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Cruise Ship Guests Volunteer to Clean Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches

04/22/10

St. Kitts Beach Cleanup Volunteers

St. Kitts Beach Cleanup Volunteers

North Brunswick, NJ–April 22, 2010–On March 31st, the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network—which is directed by Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine alumna and assistant professor Dr. Kimberly Stewart ‘06—received some unexpected help cleaning the two main leatherback sea turtle nesting beaches from guests aboard the Royal Clipper cruise ship.

According to Dr. Stewart, about 70 people from the ship volunteered to spend an afternoon of their vacation removing about 600 pounds of trash from both beaches.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been approached about anything like this,” Dr. Stewart said. “The naturalist from the ship contacted me about two weeks before the event took place to see if we would be open to the idea, but we had no idea how successful it would be.”

During the leatherback nesting season, which takes place annually from March through July, Dr. Stewart and a team consisting of RUSVM students and faculty and local volunteers clean the beaches every two weeks. So far this year, they have removed nearly 3,000 pounds of trash from both sites.

“Trash is a real problem for the turtles,” Dr. Stewart noted. “It can get in the way when they’re trying to build their nests, and often hatchlings can’t get over it on their way to the water. In addition, leatherbacks eat jellyfish, and will often ingest plastic bags by mistake.”

Cleaning the beaches also serves to benefit the community and create awareness and an appreciation for the environment, according to Dr. Stewart.

“It’s a win-win situation,” she said. “Once people are aware of how much damage trash can cause, they are much more mindful of what they do with it.”

About Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Ross University is a provider of medical and veterinary education, offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs. Founded in 1982 and located in St. Kitts, the School of Veterinary Medicine is affiliated with 21 AVMA-accredited US veterinary schools where students complete their clinical year.  The School of Medicine is located in Dominica, West Indies, with clinical education centers in Saginaw, MI, Miami, FL, and The Bahamas.

Ross University’s administrative offices are located in North Brunswick, NJ. For more information about Ross University, visit www.RossU.edu or call 732.509.4600/877.ROSS.EDU.  

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