MSC Cruises has announced that its private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, has been host to numerous Loggerhead sea turtle nests since August.
Now, the cruise line reports that hundreds of tiny hatchlings have been making their way to the sea from those nests — a culmination of MSC’s successful project to return the island and its surrounding waters to its former status as a thriving environment for plants and animals.
So far, over six nests have been identified on the island and are currently being monitored.
Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ Sustainability Director, said “We are all absolutely thrilled to see Loggerhead turtles come to Ocean Cay’s beaches to lay eggs so soon. This can take many years to happen with a newly restored ecosystem and we weren’t certain that they would come or when. We hope to see many more hatchlings in future nesting seasons and that these recent arrivals return to Ocean Cay when the time comes for them to nest.”
Once evidence of nesting was identified, all nesting sites were marked and staff began monitoring them in order to ensure their best chance of survival. Procedures are in place within the island-wide Biodiversity Management Plan to encourage turtles and assure their protection, especially during egg-laying season.
One priority on Ocean Cay is coral restoration, which is an integral part of the marine ecosystem that needs to be protected as they ensure biodiversity and protect coastlines. The waters surrounding the island have become popular with Green, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead sea turtles, with frequent sightings in the water.
Since it opened in late 2019, Ocean Cay has progressively transformed into a lush paradise with a rich marine ecosystem. Proof of the island’s progress — which was previously an industrial sand excavation site — can be seen with the fact that Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings have been spotted making their way to the sea from their island nests.
During the restoration of the island, a freshwater wetland was identified as an important feature that supports the bird population. It was safeguarded and as a result, a number of different bird species have been seen on the island, including breeding pairs and a resident burrowing owl.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is a highlight on MSC Cruises’ Caribbean itineraries, offering activities that allow guests to connect with nature. Plans are underway to provide opportunities for visitors to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programs.