St Helena Online

Tag: Sandy Bay

Sea power brings hope of turtles hatching on St Helena

Turtle tracks were spotted in Sandy Bay by Larry Thomas
Turtle tracks were spotted in Sandy Bay by Larry Thomas – who took this picture

The waves that pound against Sandy Bay Beach may have made it possible for green turtle eggs to hatch naturally on St Helena for the first time in decades.

A nest has been discovered where the sea has washed away old fortifications that were causing erosion of the beach. The find was made by Larry “Nails” Thomas.

Nests were also found in 2006 and 2011, but only a single hatchling was raised – in an artificial nest.

A 2015 turtle's nest, Sandy Bay. Picture by Larry Thomas
A 2015 turtle’s nest, Sandy Bay. Picture by Larry Thomas

Marine conservationist Elizabeth Clingham said her team at the island’s environment department were “super excited” by the discovery of the new nest.

“The beach seems far better suited to nesting,” she said. “And the turtles have nested early enough in the year that the temperatures on the island will support successful nesting.”

She said the same turtles might have been responsible for the earlier nesting attempts.

“I think that that this is possibly a turtle or turtles that hatched here 30-plus years ago, as they do nest every two to five years,” she said.

“Larry Thomas (Nails) made the initial discovery and contacted the marine section.  We responded and confirmed nesting status.”

turtle hatchling 2011They found clear tracks and disturbance in the sand showing where eggs had been buried.

Elizabeth said: “Residents of Sandy Bay talk of turtles nesting at on the beach in the Seventies near the lime kiln.

“The last recorded green turtle nesting attempts on St Helena were in April 2006 and April 2011.

“In 2006, as far we know, two turtles came ashore on Sandy Bay beach and laid eggs. One clutch of eggs was completely exposed; the other clutch were retrieved and placed into an artificial nest on the beach.”

“In 2011 there was significant evidence of turtle nesting activity on Sandy Bay beach again.”

Several “false” nests were found in 2011, the result of “desperate” attempts to find somewhere to lay eggs. One turtle was even photographed on the beach. But she was unable to reach a suitable nesting spot above sea level because of boulders used as a sea defence.

Sandy Bay in 1959 - with cannon on the beach. The wall in the foreground was washed away, allow the beach to regenerate
Sandy Bay in 1959 – with cannon on the beach. The wall in the foreground was washed away, allowing the beach to regenerate. Click the pic for a larger image

Two nests were destroyed by heavy seas but the eggs from a third were taken to an incubator inland, where they were carefully monitored under the guidance of expert Sam Weber, of Exeter University in the UK.

A single hatchling, named Joe, was the only survivor. On the evening of 26 September 2011 he was returned to the spot where his mother had laid her eggs months before.

Marine section staff stood by as little Joe – only six centimetres long – was encouraged to “walk” the few metres to the water, before the remnants of a wave dragged him into the sea.

The onlookers knew the hatchling’s chances of survival were slim.

But Elizabeth said conditions on the beach had now greatly improved – thanks to the forces of nature.

“An old fortification wall had caused the beach to erode away,” she said. “Over time the sea has demolished this wall, and the beach has regenerated quite significantly since 2008, after a major flood washed debris to the beach area.

“I am still concerned that the beach is still not ideal; however, it is better than it has ever been before in recent history.”

Read more from 2011: 
Turtles ‘desperate to nest’ – May 2011
Artificial nests made – including picture of green turtle on Sandy Bay Beach
Eggs destroyed by sea
Turtles hatch – first picture
St Helena’s first artificially incubated turtle released at Sandy Bay (St Helena Herald)

Green turtles ‘attempting to nest on St Helena’

Green turtles have been attempting to nest on St Helena, the island’s marine conservation section has reported.

Part of Sandy Bay Beach is to be closed off while the conservation team finds out the state of the nests discovered.

A statement from St Helena Government did not say how or when the discovery was made, or by whom.

People are advised not to allow pets on to the beach or to use torches and flashlights at night to try to spot turtles, in case it deters any from nesting.

Visitors who see a turtle are asked to contact the marine conservation section by telephone (22270) or by emailing – but with no mobile phone coverage on the island, any call may come too late for an actual sighting to be confirmed.

Ascension is famed for its green turtle nesting season, but nests on St Helena – 700 miles away – would be a cause for great excitement. Turtles are seen in the waters close to the island.

Green turtles next on sandy marine beaches – though the “beach” at Sandy Bay is made up of very harsh sand. They lay an average of six clutches of 120 eggs within a nesting season, at intervals of three or four years.

Hatchlings emerge 45 – 60 days after nesting, normally at night, and disperse rapidly into the open ocean.

Any green turtles nesting at St Helena are likely to spend much of their year foraging along a 6,000 km stretch of coastline from northern Argentina to northern Brazil.

Green turtles are protected under island and international agreements.

They are listed on the Schedule of the Endangered Species Protection Ordinance, 1996, which forbids anyone from endangering their welfare, killing or capturing them, or taking their eggs.

Cruise writer finds a film set waiting to be discovered

Sandy Bay’s arid landscape could be the setting for a science-fiction fantasy and Diana’s Peak would need no make-up for a role in a remake of Jurassic Park, according to writer Captain Greybeard on the Cruise International website.

He highlights the familiar attractions of St Helena in a stylish piece, but many might challenge his statement that the “incredible blue waters” around the island offer no safe location for swimming or sunbathing.

The Captain finds the cabins on the RMS St Helena “as basic as those on a cross-Channel ferry” but is nonetheless keen to spend more time in them: “It’s a long journey,” he says, “but it’s one I’d like to make again.”

Perhaps he wants a second taste of victory in the ship’s quiz.

The full article is here – and it’s worth a click just to see the superb accompanying photographs, including one of a tropic bird flying over Jamestown.

Sandy Bay health changes receive ‘positive’ report

Changes in the wake of the controversial closure of Sandy Bay clinic have been given a “generally positive” review, according to St Helena’s governor, Mark Capes.

Bus services were laid on to take patients to Half Tree Hollow after the clinic closed in May 2012, because St Helena Government felt there were too few patients to justify doctors’ time in attending it.

Mr Capes’s report of the 18 September executive council meeting said health staff conducted a review to see if the new system was effective. Some changes had been adopted after suggestions from patients, he said.


a surfer on level water with a wave breaking behind him in a mass of foam, four times his own height

St Helena barrels out as a surf destination

a surfer on level water with a wave breaking behind him in a mass of foam, four times his own height
Surfer Jamie o’Brien probably won’t be heading for Sandy Bay. Picture: Susánica Tam

All hopes of St Helena becoming the Bondi Beach of the mid-Atlantic have been dashed. Not that anyone on St Helena thought it was ever going to be a surfer’s paradise.

An article on The Surfer’s Path – spotted by Swindolena Saint Aneka Williams – declares what the Saints already knew: there is no mystical barrelling right hand point break on St Helena.

“When we arrived after 12 days at sea, we almost fell over ourselves getting off the boat, into a rental car, Sitka boards on the roof, Globe sandals on, and driving to the beach,” says writer Bryson, tongue in cheek.

The first requirement is waves. In the South Atlantic, they’re born in the wild tempests off Patagonia, says Bryson: “In the case of St Helena, the swells have almost 4000km to organize themselves into a perfectly groomed long period ground swell.” As any surfer could tell you, that means the waves are consistently far apart.

Where the island suffers from a lack of planning and foresight by tourism bosses, though, is in bathymetry. They completely failed to ensure a curved section of reef, beach or coral for waves to travel along.

“The slope up to the reef cannot be too steep or too shallow, it must be just right,” says Bryson. “St Helena rises like a tower straight out of the South Atlantic.”

Interesting footnote: St Helena is only six miles wide at the surface, but about 80 miles across at its base on the ocean floor. But that’s a long way down. Even so, some bays offered possibilities – but the wind didn’t look good.

But surfers are determined. “We were going to find surf no matter what anyone told us.”

Click here to find out how Bryson and friends got on – and also see some fine shots of surfing.

‘Transparency and scrutiny lead to public trust’ – White Paper

Proper scrutiny is vital to good government, says the UK’s 2012 White Paper on the country’s Overseas Territories.

“This important work helps strengthen the people’s trust in government,” it says, “and encourages greater public participation in decision making.”

It also sets out a list of seven principles of public life that are now followed in some Overseas Territories. They form part of the code of practice for legislative councillors on St Helena.

Both official and independent bodies have a part to play “to ensure openness and
transparency and to hold public bodies to account, including auditors and complaints

“The UK Government is supporting the development of these organisations.”

SHG has been asked to set out how its work is scrutinised and made public. It has not responded.

Part of the work of scrutiny is done by the media. The White Paper notes: “The Territories have a free and open press that serves to inform the public and foster debate on issues of policy.

“In recent years there has been an explosion of colourful internet debate and political blogs.”

The Seven Principles of Public Life – from the White Paper

The UK Committee on Standards in Public Life has set out these principles for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way. They have been adopted by many
public bodies in the UK and the Territories.

Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.


Prime Minister David Cameron: we’re ambitious for you
White Paper sets out need for openness in government

Overseas Territories White Paper

Health service for Sandy Bay yet to be made public

Councillors have been given a briefing on future health provision for Sandy Bay when the area’s clinic closes at the end of May 2012.

But a report by Governor Mark Capes does not say what new arrangements are likely to be put in place.

He said: “I asked for an update on the measures to be introduced to ensure that the people of Sandy Bay continued to have ready access to clinical services when the Sandy Bay clinic closes at the end of this month.

“Carol George, Director of Health, attended to provide details of the measures being proposed.”

St Helena Online has asked for details to be released because of strong public interest.

It was originally announced on 8 March that the clinic would close at the end of that month, along with a similar service at Head o’Wain.

Public protest secured a two-month reprieve for the Sandy Bay outpatient sessions when it was pointed out that some patients would have difficulty getting to alternative clinics in Half Tree Hollow or Levelwood.

A statement at the time said:  “The decision to close the clinics has been made as a result of low attendance and consequent inefficient use of medical and nursing staff time at these locations.

“With increasing pressure on financial resources, it is important that the Health and Social Welfare Directorate uses the resources it has in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

Cape hospital agrees deal to treat Saints
Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell on transparency (audio)

St Helena Government