The Saint Lucia Divers

Association last week Tuesday (June 8, 2021) presented prizes to winning students in a

competition hosted by the Association in observance of World Turtle Day.

The essay competition focused on the importance of sea turtles to the environment and also a

painting competition for children from infant, primary and secondary schools across the

island.

Twelve essays were submitted by three schools and one painting from another. Students from

Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School were awarded for their essays while a student from

St. Joseph’s Convent was awarded for her painting. Another student, an eight-year-old, the

youngest entrant, also received a prize.

The winners are as follows:

 Fabi Philip and Reuben Reynolds (first place in the essay competition)

 Vianni Plummer (second place in the essay competition)

 Melanie Alcee (third place in the essay competition)

 Desiree Francois (first place in the painting competition)

World Turtle Day, observed on May 23, helps create awareness of turtles and tortoises and

the habitats. This year’s theme – “Turtles Rock!” – encouraged people across the globe to see

turtles as more than just rocks with legs. This year, people were encouraged to take

“shellfies” and “shellebrate” the reptiles.

Saint Lucia is home to the Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead turtle species,

with sightings of the latter extremely rare.

 

President of Saint Lucia Divers Association, Eget Martyr, said the competition sought to

engage students in activities that help create awareness of the turtles found in Saint Lucia and

the impact they have on our environment.

“Turtles have been around for as long as the dinosaurs were and we’ve recognized that some

of the species are becoming extinct while others are on the endangered list,” Martyr said. “It

was for these reasons that we decided to, as part of our celebrations for World Turtle Day, do

something that would create awareness among our citizens. We thought that the better way to

do so was by engaging our schoolchildren. It was evident in their essays that they did a lot of

research which showed up in the essays.”

Martyr said the ultimate goal is to petition the government for the reinstitution of the

moratorium on sea turtles. In that vein, she said her Association – also known as Anbaglo —

will be engaging students, parents, teachers and others to achieve that objective.

The Divers Association recently commenced the North Project, a bold initiative aimed at

redirecting some of the diving activities from the reefs in Soufriere to the north of the island.

By doing so, the Divers Association hopes to show people that the north is equally beautiful

and accommodating as the south of the island for diving activities.

Immediate Past President of Saint Lucia Divers Association, Donovan Brown, said four

wrecks were sunk off the north coast to ultimately become artificial reefs. He noted that, in

conjunction with the coral restoration program, the goal is to improve the ecosystem and

increase numbers of marine life.

“We have also trained six youngsters as coral gardeners for free, which is in keeping with

involving the youth in what happens in the ocean,” Brown stated. “We have to start paying

more attention to the ocean. Climate change has driven us to the point where we must do so

with support from the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) and the Saint

Lucia National Conservation Fund (SLUNCF).”

Meanwhile, SLHTA Chief Executive Officer, Noorani Azeez, noted that aside from offering

up seafood for human consumption, oceans are now creating a boom in sea moss farming,

with many people on the island’s east coast now boasting livelihoods from the manufacture

and exportation of sea moss.

“It’s no secret that the oceans are major contributors to the economic livelihoods of thousands

of Saint Lucians,” said Azeez. “Historically, we all owe the ocean for feeding us. However,

in recent times, the ocean has functioned as a point of recreation and a key driver of the

tourism economy.”

As a small island developing state (SIDS), Azeez said the blue economy shifts the focus away

from the agricultural and terrestrial environment by offering creative and more sustainable

ways of promoting livelihoods and well-being.

 

The SLHTA CEO added that the COVID-19 pandemic has fortuitously created a breather for

the oceans to regenerate through a combination of decreased human activity and less amount

of chemicals leaking into bays due to scaled down activities.

By creating new dive sites, Azeez believes the Divers Association has enabled the

diversification of the island’s offerings as a tourism economy, and, more importantly,

decentralizing the concentration of people in specific areas.

“The Divers Association has had a very distinguished relationship with the SLHTA for many

years,” Azeez stated. “Together, we have collaborated on a myriad of projects, all focused on

the welfare of the seas and the livelihoods of those who use the seas to ply their trades.”

The Saint Lucia Divers Association is a member of the SLHTA.

By GVD

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