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April 09, 2022 4 min read

How YOU can help sea turtles

Sea turtles face many threats worldwide. These include global warming, overfishing and plastic pollution in the oceans. Here you will find out how you as an individual can counteract these dangers and thus support these wonderful animals.

Do not touch, feed or rush

If you are on holiday by the sea and are lucky enough to come across a sea turtle, please do not go too close to it or rush it. This is very stressful for the turtle and, in the worst case scenario, it can prevent it from diving to the surface to breathe. Feeding and touching the turtles is also an absolute no-go! The sea turtles prefer to eat algae or small sea creatures and do not need any additional food from us humans. Foreign food can be very harmful and is much less nutritious than their natural food.

Unfortunately, since turtle sightings have increased here in Cyprus, we have also noticed that many people come and feed the animals. We have already seen a change in behavior in just one year. When diving we carry a second regulator as a reserve. This regulator is marked yellow so that you can see it clearly under water. Since the sea turtles have been fed lettuce, which is often yellowish/green, we have seen more and more often that the sea turtles swim towards the divers and try to grab the regulator. This probably has to do with the fact that they confuse it with salad.

Turtles also feel it when you touch their shells, so touching them can be very disturbing to them. In addition, an exchange of bacteria occurs between animals and humans, which can be harmful for both parties.

Reduce and recycle plastic consumption

Plastic pollution in nature is increasing, with an estimated 14 million tons ending up in the ocean every year. This threatens marine life of all kinds because they can become entangled in trash or mistaken for food, which in most cases ends in death. So try to reduce your plastic consumption as much as possible. Be it reusable bottles and carrier bags, shampoos or detergents, there are many alternatives.

beads smaller than 5mm – are often found in cosmetics and toothpastes . So when buying such products, pay attention to whether they contain microplastics. There are various apps (e.g CodeCheck ), with which you can scan the barcode and see whether the product contains microplastics.
This also includes the correct disposal and recycling of plastic and other waste products. This means that plastic can also be recycled and does not end up in landfills or in nature.

Eat less fish and seafood

A lot of sea turtles and other marine creatures end up in fishing nets as bycatch - i.e. unwanted. By reducing your fish consumption or even avoiding fish and seafood, you stop supporting wild-caught fisheries. If you can't do without fish or seafood completely, pay attention to the fishing method and the origin of the products. Longlines, trawls and gillnets have the highest bycatch rates and should therefore be avoided.

pass on information

It is very important that information like this is passed on - be it to friends, family or acquaintances. The more people know about the dangers of sea turtles and what can be done about them, the better. It is very easy to share this information, especially with social media. We too as Diving school constantly pass on information and educate people on how to behave properly with sea creatures.

Another option is ours Online course “Sea turtles in the Mediterranean” to share, or if you haven't been there yet, take part yourself.

Don't buy turtle souvenirs

Unfortunately, the deliberate capture and killing of sea turtles is still a major problem. The beautiful pattern on the shell leads to the sea turtles being killed to sell souvenirs. So if you're on vacation and see a turtle shell souvenir, don't buy it. If you're not sure whether it's real or fake, ask and always err on the side of caution by not buying it. The same goes for turtle soup.

Climate-friendly living

Global warming poses a very serious threat to sea turtles. Weather conditions are becoming more and more extreme, which is destroying the turtles' nesting places and habitat. The sex of sea turtles depends on the temperature; warmer temperatures produce more females and colder temperatures produce more males. With global warming, many more females are emerging, which can negatively change the entire turtle population. Rising water temperatures also mean that sea turtles are much more susceptible to disease. So by trying to live in a more climate-neutral way, you are not only helping sea turtles, but many other species.

Turn off lights on the beach

If you are one of the lucky people who owns a beach house, please turn off the lights at night. Because if sea turtles nest on this beach, you will help the babies find their way to the sea. They find their way to the sea by following the reflected moonlight. In large hotel complexes and built-up beaches it often happens that the hatched turtles follow this light and therefore go in the wrong direction. The chance of survival is therefore very low.

Safe boating

If you rent or own a boat on vacation, always follow local rules and stay a safe distance from the beach. Sea turtles often stay near the coast where there is a lot of seagrass. When they dive up to take a breath, it can be very dangerous when there are many boats at sea. So staying safe and driving slowly can help you see turtles early and give them enough time to go back under.

Support turtle conservation projects

Sea turtles in the Mediterranean still receive less attention than those in tropical waters. But fortunately there are now many organizations in the Mediterranean that are actively committed to protecting these wonderful animals. These organizations and projects often rely on donations and look forward to any kind of help. Of course, this also includes us at Ocean Support Kistler. With your donations, we cover, among other things, our ongoing costs incurred in removing ghost nets around Cyprus. You can also support us by wearing XENIOS Wear . These are trendy clothes that are of course produced in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. 10% of your order goes directly to protecting sea turtles.