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leatherback and moon

(D Perrine)

Any distractions on the beach can lead a female turtle to return to the sea where she may drop her eggs.

Watch with care

The site of a female turtle, arriving on a moonlit beach and excavating a huge hole for her eggs is a magical experience which many tourists visiting tropical coastlines are naturally keen to appreciate. But over- obtrusive visitors can b e extremely damaging to the turtle's cycle of reproduction. The slightest sound, movement, or flash of light can deter a female from coming ashore to lay her eggs. And if the turtle is already on the beach it may retreat back into the sea Fortunately, once a turtle has begun laying her eggs it enters a trance-like state and can be observed with less risk.

At many important nesting sites well-arranged turtle watching tours are organised by experienced guides who know exactly how to avoid disturbing animals coming ashore. At Tamarindo in Costa Rica, a well developed turtle watch programme, b uilding on the knowledge of local villagers, helped to create a national wildlife refuge, ensuring the future not only of nesting beaches but also vital mangrove swamps and other important wildlife habitats.

Other well-organised turtle watch programmes can be found at numerous sites along the Florida coastline, at Tortugera in Costa Rica, Maruta Bay and Colola in Mexico, Tangalle in Sri Lanka, the turtle Island Park in Sabah Malaysia, and Bun daberg in Australia.

laying leatherback Any distractions on the beach can lead a female turtle to return to the sea where she may drop her eggs.
(D Perrine)

Turtle friendly tourism

  • Guides should have a detailed knowledge of the nesting patterns of turtles and follow strict conservation guidelines
  • Tourist should remain under the supervision of the guide at all times
  • Only the guide should use a torch, which should be of low intensity
  • Turtles should not be approached until they have begun laying
  • Flash photography should not be permitted

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WSPA's campaign booklet - Turtle Alert! has been adapted for the WWW by EuroTurtle, which is a Web based project by MEDASSET International (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles), Exeter University (UK) and the Biology Department of King's College,Taunton, UK. EuroTurtle is Europe's first Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation Web Site for Science and Education.

Copyright © 1997, WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).
These pages are the intellectual property of WSPA.
Permission to copy these materials must be obtained from WSPA.