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Last year, Christopher Columbus Condos was excited to become the first development on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lighting. Today, we are delighted to announce that thanks to this update, 142 baby sea turtles hatched on our beach earlier this week.

A few weeks ago, the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (DOE) began monitoring a nest that was found next to one of our beach huts. They determined that because of our turtle-friendly lighting, the eggs would not have to be moved to another location. On November 12, the eggs hatched and the tiny turtles made their way to the sea with a little help from the DOE and cheers from onlooking CCC guests.

CCC’s turtle-friendly lighting was installed as part of a partnership with the DOE in an effort to help preserve the sea turtle community. This was the first nest on our beach since the lighting was installed, and we hope for many more in the coming years.


*Photo courtesy of property manager Lisa!

What is turtle-friendly lighting?

Turtle nesting season occurs yearly between May and September, and hatchlings appear between July and November. Momma turtles come up onto the beach to lay their eggs, and then after 50–60 days, the hatchlings emerge and begin their journey back to the ocean.

When baby turtles hatch, they use the light of the moon to help navigate them to the ocean. Bright, blue-spectrum lighting on buildings can mimic the lighting of the moon, disorienting the hatchlings and leading them into dangerous places like further up the beach, nearby properties, or even roads. LED lights sit more on the orange end of the light spectrum, which doesn’t bother or confuse turtle hatchlings.

Due to the endangered status of green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles, the DOE is working on an official policy that would require new developments on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lights. These regulations would be based on similar ones enacted along the Florida coastline, which have been incredibly successful and world-renowned in helping preserve the turtle population.


Attractive and environmentally friendly

In addition to helping out our turtle friends, LED lighting is more energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing. The warm lighting creates a cozy, modern atmosphere outside the condos and around the pool. Enjoy watching the stars without distracting bright lights, and don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see your way back inside after taking in every second of gorgeous Cayman sunsets on the beach.

Owner Keith Holloway who oversaw the lighting installation last year says, Christopher Columbus is “invested in keeping the property current and modern for the enjoyment of our guests.” New lighting is one of many improvements that have been made in recent years, including in-unit wi-fi, enlarged laundry facilities, a roomy oceanside gazebo, and more.

*Photo courtesy of condo owner Marsha O'Daniel. This was taken in 2014 when the DOE came to CCC's section of the beach to assist some turtle hatchlings and allowed lucky viewers a chance to see the baby turtles up close.


Heads up for turtle nests

We would like to thank the DOE for monitoring the nest on our beach and for all the continued work they do preserving the sea turtle population in Grand Cayman. Guests can do their part in helping turtles as well. If you notice any turtle tracks on our segment on the beach, let a CCC staff member know or call the DOE directly as soon as possible. The DOE will properly secure and tag the nest so the hatchlings can have the best possible chances at survival. Remember, disturbing a turtle nest is against Cayman Islands’ law so if you see anyone harming a turtle or a nest, you should notify CCC staff or the Cayman police.

Since the DOE began monitoring nests on Seven Mile Beach in 1998, nest numbers have increased from just 30 a year to over 300. We hope that our new turtle-friendly lighting can help foster a comfortable and safe environment for many more nests to come!

This post was originally published on May 31, 2018 and updated November 14, 2019 to share great results from the original lighting project.


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Christopher Columbus Condos is excited to announce that we’re working to become the first development on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lighting throughout the property.

A combined effort between CCC and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE), owner Keith Holloway is overseeing installation of the new lighting. “The native turtle population is a true treasure of the Cayman Islands. We have had nesting turtles on our property and have safeguarded the nests and hatchlings through the years.” We’re thrilled to add new lighting to our list of ways to help out the turtles.

What is turtle-friendly lighting?

Turtle nesting season occurs yearly between May and September, and hatchlings appear between July and November. Momma turtles come up onto the beach to lay their eggs, and then after 50–60 days, the hatchlings emerge and begin their journey back to the ocean.

When baby turtles hatch, they use the light of the moon to help navigate them to the ocean. Bright, blue-spectrum lighting on buildings can mimic the lighting of the moon, disorienting the hatchlings into dangerous places like further up the beach, nearby properties, or even roads. LED lights sit more on the orange end of the light spectrum, which doesn’t bother or confuse turtle hatchlings.

Due to the endangered status of green, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles, the DOE is working on an official policy that would require new developments on Seven Mile Beach to implement turtle-friendly lights. These regulations would be based on similar ones enacted along the Florida coastline, which have been incredibly successful and world renowned in helping preserve turtle populations.

Attractive and environmentally friendly

In addition to helping out our turtle friends, LED lighting is also more energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing. The warm lighting creates a cozy, modern atmosphere outside the condos and around the pool. Enjoy watching the stars without distracting bright lights, and don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see to make your way back inside after taking in every second of gorgeous Cayman sunsets on the beach.

As Holloway says, Christopher Columbus is “invested in keeping the property current and modern for the enjoyment of our guests.” New lighting is another improvement that’s been made in recent years, in addition to in-unit wi-fi, enlarged laundry facilities, a roomy oceanside gazebo, and more.

Heads up for turtle nests

If you notice any turtle tracks on our segment on the beach, let a CCC staff member know or call the DOE directly as soon as possible. The DOE will properly secure and tag the nest so the hatchlings can have the best possible chances at survival. Remember, disturbing a turtle nest is against Cayman Islands’ law. If you see anyone harming a turtle or a nest, you should notify CCC staff or the Cayman police.



Since the DOE began monitoring nests on Seven Mile Beach in 1998, nest numbers have increased from just 30 a year to over 300. We hope that our new turtle-friendly lighting can help foster a comfortable and safe environment for many more nests to come!

*Photos courtesy of condo owner Marsha O'Daniel. They were taken in 2014 when the DOE came to CCC's section of the beach to assist some of the turtle hatchlings and allowed lucky viewers a chance to see the baby turtles up close.

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The Cayman Islands has 17 unique bird sub-species that are endemic to the islands. Meaning these birds can only be found in the Cayman Islands and no where else in the world! While there are no endemic bird species in the Cayman Islands anymore, the islands were once home to the endemic Cayman Islands Thrush species which became extinct by the 1940's.

BananaquitOut of the 17 endemic sub-species however, thirteen live on Grand Cayman island, while four others also live on the Sister Islands. Below you'll find the list of 17 sub-species and which island(s) they reside on in parentheses.

Endemic Sub-Species of Birds Living in the Cayman Islands

  1. Caribbean Dove: collaris (Grand Cayman)
  2. Cuban Parrot: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)*
  3. Cuban Parrot: hesterna (Cayman Brac)
  4. West Indian Woodpecker: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  5. Northern Flicker: gundlachi (Grand Cayman)
  6. Carribbean Elaenia: caymanensis (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  7. Loggerhead Kingbird: caymanensis (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  8. Red-legged Thrush: coryi (Cayman Brac)
  9. Thick-billed Vireo: alleni (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  10. Yucatan Vireo: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  11. Bananaquit: sharpei (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)
  12. Vitelline Warbler: vitellina (Grand Cayman)**
  13. Vitelline Warbler: crawfordi (Little Cayman, Cayman Brac)**
  14. Western Spindalis: salvini (Grand Cayman)
  15. Cuban Bullfinch: taylori (Grand Cayman)
  16. Greater Antillean Grackle: caymanensis (Grand Cayman)
  17. Greater Antillean Grackle: bangsi (Little Cayman)

* Commonly known as the Grand Cayman Parrot, this parrot is the official national bird of the Cayman Islands.

** The majority of the world's population of all Vitelline Warblers live on the Cayman Islands with only a few others living on the Swan Islands off of Honduras. 

In addition to these unique sub-species, there are over 200 species of birds on the Cayman Islands which has made the islands a popular destination for birding. There are several reserves that are ideal for bird watching, too. Pick out one of the spots below and take a turn at watching the wide array of birds here.

Great Spots for Watching Birds in Grand Cayman

  • Governor Gore’s Bird Sanctuary in Spotts Newlands area
  • Mastic Reserve
  • Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
  • Salina Reserve in the East End
  • Central Mangrove Wetland
  • Barkers National Park in West Bay
  • Meagre Bay Pond near Bodden Town
  • Colliers Bay Pond north of East End


Resources used in this blog post:

A birds-eye view of bird watching, Compass Cayman Article
Cayman Islands, Fatbirder Webpage
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Cayman Islands, Page 272
Animal Sanctuaries, DOE Webpage
National Trust Website
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The months of May to November are turtle nesting season here in Grand Cayman. Sea turtles, a symbol of national pride in Cayman, were once abundant here and have since become an endangered species. The average number of nests found during a season is 43 which is down from millions as the Cayman Islands were once the largest rookery for green turtles in the Caribbean. Generally, there are 80-120 eggs per nest. Since 2000, the Department of Environment has been conducting conservation efforts capturing, tagging and releasing turtles to determine population size, migration patterns, growth rates, habitat use and diving behavior. There are four species of Turtles on Grand Cayman: the green sea turtle, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback. The green sea turtles and loggerheads are typically the most predominate nesters each year.

The DOE begins to monitor the beaches looking for turtle nests during nesting season. When a nest is discovered on the beach it is marked and sometimes enclosed with rocks or beach chairs for protection. We've been very fortunate at Christopher Columbus Condos to have several nests on our beach over the years. After finding a nest the DOE then monitors them, and when the approximate time for hatching approaches a DOE employee will carefully dig down into the nest to check the hatching progress. There are usually some eggs that have hatched. These baby turtles are put back into the nest and covered up to await the hatching of the rest of the eggs. We generally get an estimated time that the turtles will actually hatch. However, sometimes we will all gather at the beach for days anticipating the big event!

Turtles hatch at night. When the turtles do hatch they literally erupt out of the nest to the great delight of everyone watching! Hundreds of tiny baby turtles pour out of the nest and hopefully head for the ocean. It is such a treat to see this miraculous occurrence. If you are lucky enough to witness this migration to the ocean you won't soon forget it!!

The island community in conjunction with the DOE has taken it upon themselves to be "guardians" of nesting turtles and hatchlings. As recommended by the DOE most beachfront condos and property owners will dim their lights at night during nesting season as the lights can scare female turtles away from the beach (which results in them choosing not to nest). Hatchlings also use the moon and star light that bounces off the ocean as their guide to the sea. When bright artificial light is present they tend to get confused and head towards interior land (where they will most likely not survive). Everyone on the island is encouraged to help with conservation efforts, and most of us take it upon ourselves happily to protect our beloved turtles.

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