Responsible Turtle Watching

Turtle Facts

  • All species of sea turtle are endangered and need protection
  • Turtles can drown if they are prevented from reaching the surface of the sea to breathe.
  • Litter is dangerous, especially plastic bags, which can be mistaken for jellyfish – a favorite turtle food.
  • Turtles remain in the same region for years and, as adults return to the same nesting area year after year. If a nesting colony is destroyed, the turtles may never return.

What You Can Do

  • Support local sea turtle conservation initiatives—make a donation or consider volunteering.
  • Participate in local sighting networks and complete all wildlife sighting forms.
  • Do not buy or sell turtle products—turtles are strictly protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and most national laws.

In The Water

  • Watch for turtles while boating—boat strikes can kill.
  • When in the water, keep your distance and avoid startling turtles. Do not disturb resting, sleeping or feeding turtles.

  • Approach turtles slowly and calmly and move away if they show signs of distress.
  • Never try to spear, harass, catch or ride turtles.
  • Do not touch or feed turtles.

On The Beach

During the breeding seasons, some special consideration should be taken when visiting turtle nesting beaches.

  • Avoid damaging incubating nests – do not drive on a turtle nesting beach or use it for campfires or barbecues.
  • Do not leave large items (such as chairs, umbrellas or vehicles) on nesting beaches at night. These can obstruct a turtle’s path and prevent egg-laying.
  • Keep pets away, especially dogs, as they can endanger eggs and hatchlings.
  • Minimize beach lighting – artificial lights disorient turtles.
  • Shield or switch off lighting that is visible from the beach.

Watching Nesting Turtles

Turtles are very vulnerable on land, and a startled turtle may return to the sea before her eggs can successfully be laid. Please follow these simple rules.

  • Stay quiet and move slowly.
  • Do not approach or photograph any turtles that have not laid eggs.
  • Make minimal use of flashlights and never shine directly into a turtle’s face.
  • Approach from behind and keep low to the ground.
  • Move away if the the turtles shows signs of distress.
  • Never disturb turtle eggs or hatchlings.
  • Limit viewing to 30 minutes at a time.

Hatchling Turtles

  • Shield hatchlings from beachfront lighting. Ask that lights be turned off long enough for hatchlings to reach the sea.
  • Do not interfere with their crawl to the sea.
  • Never photograph hatchlings – they are very sensitive to light.