Sea turtles in peril
Friday, 27 November 2009 04:04 by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff
THE Navy is still doing a marine resources biological assessment to address the potential affects of the proposed creation of a new wharf at Polaris Point to house an aircraft carrier on threatened and endangered species, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
There are three special status species associated with Apra Harbor. The green sea turtle is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the Hawksbill sea turtle listed as endangered and the Spinner dolphin which is protected under the Endangered Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Navy expects the potential impacts to sea turtles to be "temporary disruption of normal behavior patterns (swimming, resting or foraging behaviors at Sasa Bay and Big Blue Reef)," states the study.
The temporary activities include dredging for the wharf and turning basin anticipated to last four to 78 months. The entire dredging process is expected to last eight to 18 months, but the Navy does not anticipate work to widen and deepen the existing channels to affect sea turtles.
Pile-driving and wharf construction is expected to last from six to 18 months with a total of 3.5 year duration to be estimated for all in-water construction activities. The draft study does expect the sea turtle nesting activities to be impacted by the lights from the barges used for dredging activities.
The work is expected to go on 24 hours per day for up to 18 months. Sea Turtles have been observed nesting during all months of the year on Guam with peak activity from April to July. Dangkolo, Dikiki and Kilo Wharf are the most active locations. "In general sea turtles nest and hatch at night.
They use natural light cues to orient toward the ocean. However, bright lights from the dredging platforms may confuse nesting turtles and hatchlings and result in them orienting away from the ocean," says the statement. The Navy promises that the final impact study will contain a revised sea turtle impact analysis based on ongoing and recent past studies of potential noise exposures to sea turtles and other marine species from pile driving actions.