St. Kitts
Leatherback Sea Turtle Nesting Tours

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St. Kitts
Leatherback Sea Turtle Tours

Every year from April 15th through June 15th you can be one of the select 10 people who take part in a sanctioned leatherback sea turtle watch through the non-profit St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN). 

Leatherbacks are the largest of all sea turtles, the fourth largest reptile existing today. Leatherbacks average between 3.5 and 6.5 feet in length, weighing between 500-1,500 pounds.  

Technically, turtle nesting season begins in March and ends in July, but the number of nesting turtles at the very beginning and end of the season tend to be so sporadic that it is too unreliable to schedule tours then. The Ecotours are conducted only during the prime  leatherback  nesting season.    

Guests have the chance to observe nesting female leatherbacks that may crawl on shore between 8pm until midnight.  In St. Kitts, any interaction with nesting sea turtles outside of such a tour and on your own not only is illegal but regarded as harassment, a fine of 5,000EC (US$1852). 

That fine is considerably more than the US$60 fee to participate in a turtle watch. Participants are advised to wear a long-sleeved shirt, bring rain protection and wear comfortable shoes since they may be doing some beach walking to locate a nesting sea turtle.

Two things are not permitted: no flash photography and no personal flashlight. You can get around the no flash photo ban by using a video cam, which doesn't require anything as intrusive as a flash to capture good images.  

Participants must obtain a night walk permit in order to join the research team. To arrange a tour and obtain a permit, call the Sea Turtle Hotline at (869) 764-6664.  Tours cannot be arranged online, probably because with such limited spaces you need to be on St. Kitts to reduce the chances of a no-show.  

All proceeds from tours are used in educational outreach and to provide salaries for local tour guides and sea turtle technicians. More info, see the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network website.

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