Sea Turtle Savior

Lemuel Pemberton has made Nevis a safe-haven for endangered sea turtles.

September 25, 2019
man in pink shirt on beach with stick
Lemuel Pemberton has a devoted following of volunteers, including local youth who help him count turtle eggs and more. Tina Thuell

When Lemuel Pemberton first thought about launching a turtle conservation program on Nevis, he wasn’t even sure if the Caribbean island was home to enough turtles to make a monitoring program worthwhile. The answer proved a resounding yes. Not only were loggerheads foraging offshore, but there were nesting populations of leatherback, green and, especially, hawksbill turtles. Pemberton founded the Nevis Turtle Group in 2003.

After starting out with small night patrols of nesting beaches, Pemberton has gained valuable partners. He developed a sea turtle conservation program for the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, where hatchlings disoriented by the resort’s lights were crawling toward the swimming pool rather than the ocean. Prince Harry paid a visit from the United Kingdom in November 2016, working with Pemberton at Lovers Beach—the island’s top nesting site—to release hatchlings and conduct an egg count. “That was the highlight of the season,” Pemberton says.

He also has created a strong volunteer corps among local youth. “They’re now able to do the egg counts, tagging and measuring all on their own,” he says. “It’s exciting to pass on this work from one generation to the next.”


How did it feel to host Prince Harry? That was an exciting time for the Nevis Turtle Group. People all around the world heard about us and the work that we do.

After all these years, what still thrills you about working with turtles? It’s a thrill to see the same turtles return. We have fewer green sea turtles, so when you see one you tagged in 2004 coming back in 2018, you feel happy.

How can visitors participate in Nevis Turtle Group activities? They can come along on a turtle watch with us from June through December. They can learn more at our website,


Pemberton’s Picks on Nevis

Lovers Beach: It’s the best beach for turtle watching.

Esmie’s Sunrise (St. James Parish): It’s great for local food and atmosphere, and authentic local music. It’s adjacent to the historic Eden Brown Estate.

Boddie’s Café (Charlestown): Enjoy great local food while you take in the sights and sounds of Charlestown.


Sunshine’s Bar, Lounge & Grill (Pinney’s Beach): Come here for the seafood and the world-renowned “Killer Bee” rum punch.


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