Patrice Osei Morris donates $2,050 to Turtle Sanctuary
June 15, 2007
Patrice Osei Morris donates $2,050 to Turtle Sanctuary

In memory of his father the late Kerwyn Morris, Patrice Osei Morris presented a cheque for $2,050 to Orton King, founder of the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on Bequia last Saturday.{{more}}

The money was raised mainly from contributions made in memory of Morris, who was the former Chief Fisheries Officer.

Patrice Osei Morris noted that his father, who was buried at sea on March 14, was a staunch environmentalist, and would have been peeved if wreaths were thrown into the sea, so the decision was taken to use the money that would have been used to buy wreaths as a donation towards an environmental cause.

He explained, “It’s a tidy sum that would hopefully help Mr King at his sanctuary because it is a good cause. My dad would have been happy to know that we have helped in this area, it’s what he would have wanted because the family discussed it at home.”

King accepted the contribution and emphasized that the late Morris was instrumental in establishing the sanctuary in 1995.

He said that operating the turtle sanctuary was a costly venture but the late Morris would help him to source less expensive smaller fish to feed the turtles.

He reminisced, “We had a good interaction while he was in office, I never saw much of him after he retired. I am however accepting this donation with mixed feelings because something was done for him, through me and now he is gone. My son went to look for him a few days before he died and now his son whom I never met before is here to hand over this cheque on his behalf.”

King described the donation as timely since it was the slow season for tourists on the Grenadine Isle and buying canned fish products was costly.

With 841 turtles released since 1995 and 600 still in captivity, King expressed ambitions to get a lease from the government to have the land to build larger pools and expand his haven for turtles, which is located at the north eastern side of the island.

“I get no direct support and I have to rear these turtles until they are about four years old so that they are strong enough to fend for themselves in the ocean. I want to build a bigger pool to get away from the hurricanes but I have no idea what the government is saying. While our country looks at these things slightly, foreigners are appreciating the efforts that I have been making. “ he lamented.

King said that a scientist who conducts a similar project in Cuba recently visited his site and praised the work that he has been doing with turtles. King called on the government to make a link with the work being done in Cuba so that assistance could be given to the local sanctuary.

King confessed that he once hunted turtles, but said he had a change of heart when he realized that the turtle population was depleting, “There are only about six people in the world who have a turtle sanctuary and this country is one of them. I know my turtles because I drill holes in their shells instead of tagging them. As a diver I encounter them every now and then. But I would probably have to wait another12 years for them to be mature enough to reproduce.”

King also noted that turtles, which are solitary sea creatures start to reproduce when they are 25 years old but could live for more than 200 years. He said that having a healthy turtle population was vital since they kept the ocean clean for coral reefs by eating algae and sponges that could be harmful.

King released a turtle on Saturday June 9th in Morris’ honour.