To be truthful, I wasn’t all that excited about going to see a turtle sanctuary on our first visit to Bequia. I thought there had to be SO many other things to check out on this lovely island that I really didn’t want to spend time looking at turtles in captivity. I mean it’s thrilling to see turtles in their natural habitat while snorkeling, diving or swimming in the Caribbean, but turtles in a cage? Reluctantly I went along, and ended up enjoying the experience quite a bit and came away with a lot of respect for the man behind the sanctuary, “Brother” King, and the time and effort he has put in to saving the Hawksbill turtle from extinction.
The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary is located on the north east side of Bequia and we found a taxi in Port Elizabeth to drive us over for a tour. It was a beautiful drive and we got to see some of the Bequia countryside as well as beautiful vistas and beaches along the way.
Orton “Brother” King started the sanctuary in 1995 as a way to protect Hawksbill turtle hatchlings during their most vulnerable time and collects eggs from nearby beaches. He raises them until they are about 14 inches long and then releases them into the ocean. According to his website,
“This gives them a better chance to survive, and instead of one from one thousand reaching maturity, this project will help repopulate the ocean sooner with about fifty from one hundred.”
The entrance fee and any donations he receives help to fund his continued work.
This turtle like to have his back rubbed. He would swim over to people at the side of his pool and when you rubbed his back in the right spot, he’d wiggle his leg – just like a dog!
We spent some time talking to Brother King and asking questions about his operation – which he gladly answered. He’s passionate about what he does and increasing the number of Hawksbill turtles that swim in the waters around this beautiful island.
Find the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on our Grenadines Map
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