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Shell Beach - A view from our expert author
Shell Beach © Courtesy of Wilderness Explorers
Visitors don’t just come for the endless expanse of unspoiled Atlantic coastline; they come hoping to see a prehistoric sea turtle crawl ashore and lay her eggs.
This 90-mile stretch of beach is the main reason people find themselves planning a trip to this region of Guyana. From March through August, Shell Beach becomes the nesting ground for four of the world’s eight endangered species of marine turtles: leatherback, green, hawksbill and olive ridley. Most of the world’s sea turtle nesting sites are visited by only one or two species, adding to the exceptionality of Shell Beach.
Shell Beach stretches from the mouth of the Waini River, along Guyana’s northwestern sea coast to the Pomeroon River’s mouth, a distance of roughly 90 miles. It is a rare swathe of undeveloped tropical coastland that, for the most part, remains ecologically undamaged. The entire area is broadly referred to as Shell Beach, but nine sections of beach have been given separate names, such as Almond, Kamwatta, Tiger and Gwennie. While largely unpopulated by permanent inhabitants, nearly 150 inhabitants occupy Almond Beach, near the Waini River’s mouth; roughly 180 people reside at Gwennie Beach, near the Pomeroon River. While the name Shell Beach may sound like a romanticised appellation, it’s actually utilitarian. Shell Beach is a beach composed entirely of seashells, from perfectly intact to crushed bits the size of sand.
(with thanks to Michelle Kalamandeen, of the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society, www.gmtcs.org)