St. Croix Turtle Project


B Y  K E L L Y S T E W A R T ,  P R O J E C T  D I R E C T O R

Although green and hawksbill sea turtles nest all year round at Sandy Point, our intensive research starts in March, with the arrival of the leatherbacks. These 900 lb mommas have traveled long distances to return home for nesting. This year we encountered 27 individual nesters, with the oldest one being Rosie, who was first tagged back in 1999! She still carried the flipper tag she was given - PPQ244. She has nested over 50 times at Sandy Point! She was adopted by Nancy Byrnes.







We saw many familiar turtle faces, including many of the turtles that our supporters have adopted. We also tagged 52 green turtles, and 9 hawksbills this year. The oldest green turtle was Happy (adopted by Sally Hewitt), first tagged in 2003 and the oldest hawksbill was Yesca from 2010 (adopted by the Grahams). In October and November, it's all about the hatchlings as our green and hawksbill nests are hatching!

A popular addition to the refuge entrance was our sea turtle nest count sign. We updated it daily all year for our three sea turtle species!


B Y  H A L E Y   J A C K S O N , O U T R E A C H  C O O R D I N A T O R

Supporting the staff at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, we hosted a variety of outreach events and educational opportunities for the community of St. Croix. A focus on youth and children is a priority!

We ran two beach cleanups during the summer, participating in the International Coastal Cleanup (Coastweeks). These events brought our volunteers and community members together to clean nearly 70 lbs of trash from St. Croix beaches! In 2022 please look out for more of these cleanup events at beaches around the island and at Sandy Point.

Participants in the Sandy Point Sea Turtle Education Program received these fantastic educational worksheets. They were made by Haley Jackson (as her Duke University Master's thesis) to be specific to St. Croix. They are available free of charge to St. Croix schools and teachers courtesy of Sandy Point! To request copies for your classrooms, please email us!


A M A Z I N G  T R A V E L S   A R O U N D  T H E   C A R I B B E A N

In 2020, we began to satellite track leatherbacks, in collaboration with the New England Aquarium and Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas (ATMAR) in Maunabo, Puerto Rico. Our goal is to understand more about leatherback nesting site choices, as populations in the Caribbean have been declining. This work complements our genetics research looking at family relationships (moms and daughters) and survival and recruitment of the hatchlings. We can also figure out the dads from the genetic profiles and build extensive family trees for our leatherbacks!

We have now tracked 11 leatherbacks on their journeys around the Caribbean and north to their foraging areas!

One of the amazing tracks from 2021 was Spot. She nested three times in St. Croix, before heading off to Antigua, where she nested twice more. After that, she traveled to the Gulf of Mexico (off New Orleans), where she remained all summer into fall. Most of our leatherbacks head to Canadian waters, but not Spot! She's the first to venture to the Gulf!

Three Sandy Point leatherbacks are still going.. Carol, Mona & Sunshine!

You can see all the tracks of our satellite tagged leatherbacks online at, then go to Tracking. Maps are published live daily and are free to access. Sponsorships are welcome of course!


Two of our amazing volunteers are Donna Boles (left) and Dante Trivett (right). They help with absolutely everything at Sandy Point! Experts at keeping an eye on the hawksbill population, they carefully record every crawl they come across.Donna's artistic contributions to the Frederiksted community and Dante's willingness to learn every aspect of resource management, make them incredibly valuable team members at the refuge!


Volunteers are an integral part of the sea turtle conservation work at Sandy Point! They spend many hours walking beaches identifying sea turtle crawls, assisting with educational programs, helping with maintenance projects around the refuge, and lending a hand whenever needed. In all, during 2021, volunteers spent over 1,500 hours patrolling Sandy Point and other St. Croix beaches, recording over 7,000 sea turtle activities! The work we do at Sandy Point would not be possible without their support.If you'd like to sign up to be notified of any volunteer opportunities that come up from time to time, please visit and click on the volunteer link!

Thanks to our volunteers for their hard work and dedication!


Sandy Point is an incredible incubator! A whopping 152,105 sea turtle eggs were deposited this year. Total hatchlings: 108,471. By species below...


GREEN 81,668


National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation

4419 West Tradewinds Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale Florida 33308

(954) 351-9333 – Toll Free (877) Turtle 3


State of Florida Registration Number CH-2841. Internal Revenue Code 501 (c) (3)

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