Sea turtles have lived in the world’s oceans for over 150 million years. Sadly, these ancient reptiles are now globally threatened with extinction. Many populations are declining as a result of hunting, increasing coastal development, incidental capture in fisheries, degradation and destruction of nesting beaches, and marine pollution. You can help protect them by following these simple guidelines.
- 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.
- Participating in responsible turtle watching programs can help raise awareness of the need to protect turtles.
Be sure to find out about local laws and regulations, as they may differ from these general guidelines.