Sea Turtle Ocean Habitat
The grace and beauty of a sea turtle in its ocean habitat is a magical experience. Whether boating, snorkeling, or diving, remember that the ocean is home for turtles and other wildlife.
Be a Good Mate: Follow responsible boating practices.
- Use mooring buoys whenever possible and lay anchors away from coral reefs and seagrass beds, which are main feeding areas for turtles.
- Create as little trash as possible, including food waste, and keep it stowed safely in the boat. Plastic and other waste is a major threat to wildlife.
- Watch out for corals or rocks in your kayak or small boat.
- Obey all posted speed zones.
Leave Space: Viewing ocean creatures from a distance ensures both your safety and theirs.
- Circling, chasing, or harassing turtles can lead to stress and injury. Resist the temptation to ride or touch them, too.
- Unless a turtle approaches you, maintain a distance of at least 20 feet (6 meters) at all times (this will feel close under water). If one does approach, keep a safe distance.
- Feeding wildlife can condition them to human food and have lasting negative impacts including habituation and poor nutrition.
- Limit viewing time to 30 minutes to reduce stress on the animal and to give others an opportunity to observe.
- Make sure the turtle has a clear route to leave if it wants and refrain from chasing a one swimming away.
- Keep selfie sticks and other equipment out of their way, no photo is worth stressing out a sea turtle or other animal.
Healthy Habitat: Sea turtles and other wildlife need a healthy home to survive.
- Leave it there: collecting coral or other objects can damage habitat (unless its trash).
- Standing on or accidentally bumping coral causes serious damage (and floating above it is more fun).
- Watch out for signs and obey all local regulations.
- If you want to fish, do so away from turtle habitat because they are easily hooked on lines or entangled in fishing gear. Properly discard used fishing line on shore in garbage cans, or fishing line recycling bins.
- Collect any trash you see in the water.
- Avoid using chemical sunscreens in the water, avoid ones with oxybenzone and look for ones with zinc oxide. This article has some great suggestions.
If interacting with sea turtles as part of a research or conservation project, stick to defined research regulations to minimize contact and reduce unnecessary stress on animals.
sea turtle conservation expeditions
Photo credits: Brad Nahill/SEE Turtles, Elizabeth Moreno/RED Sustainable Travel, Neil Ever Osborne