The Best Places To Dive with Sea Turtles
There are seven species of sea turtle: green, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback, flatback, olive ridley and Kemp’s ridley. They can be identified by their different jaw structures and shell shapes, and are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe. Sea turtles have lived in our oceans for more than 100 million years.
But they are now increasingly under threat. Six of the seven species are listed as endangered or vulnerable - and there is insufficient data on the flatback to make a call.
Last year a study revealed male green sea turtles are disappearing from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A turtle's sex is determined by ambient temperatures. The study confirmed that 99 per cent of hatchlings born in 2014 in the northern part of the reef were female.
In addition to the impact of climate change, turtles are also suffering from eating waste plastic in the ocean, light pollution in breeding grounds and being caught by long-line fisheries.
The Best Places to Dive With Sea Turtles?
Six of the seven species of sea turtle can be seen at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The reef is an important habitat for sea turtles to forage, breed and nest. The outer parts of the reef, including Ribbons Reef and Osprey Reef, have plenty of turtles and divers are most likely to see green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles there. Leatherbacks and olive ridley turtles have also been sighted but less frequently.
The MV Spoilsport Australia offers special Turtle Spectacular safaris in November each year to explore the far northern reefs. These safaris include a visit to Raine Island, which has been a green turtle nesting site for over 1,000 years. Thousands of turtles return to Raine Island to lay their eggs in the warm sands each year.
Sipadan Island, Malaysia is known for a high aggregation of green sea turtles year round and there is a high concentration of mating green sea turtles there during each August.
The Maldives may be best known for encounters with whale sharks and manta rays, but it is also home to numerous sea turtles. South Male and North Male Atoll are good areas for sea turtle encounters but they are commonly seen at many Maldives dive sites.
DIVE TIP How TO TELL A HAWKsBILL FROM A GREEN GREENS are bigger with a more domed shell • HAWksbill beaks are sharper and their carapaces have more jagged edges • Greens have lighter skin around their eyes • the scutes (panels) on the green's carapace do not overlap • hawksbills tend to be more colourful • both eat jellyfish - hawksbills munch on sponges, greens prefer seagrass
Costa Rica is visited by six different sea turtle species each year, as they return to mate and nest along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica. The abundance of turtle species means divers have a good chance of seeing turtles at any time of the year. Guanacaste has several species of sea turtles that visit in their thousands each year. Hawksbill and green sea turtles can often be seen in the waters off Cocos Island.
Green sea turtles arrive in Costa Rica to lay their eggs in August and September, whereas leatherback turtles are more commonly seen in April.
The Galápagos green sea turtle is the only type of green sea turtle that nests on the beaches of the Galápagos Islands. These turtles have a slightly darker and more domed shell than other green sea turtles. Cabo Marshall and Cabo Douglas are both good dive sites for sea turtle sightings.
Oman is another turtle hotspot and is visited by hawksbill and green sea turtles. The Daymaniyat and Hallaniyat Islands are well known for their nesting sea turtle populations, though the Musandam Peninsula also has sea turtles at the coral reefs found there. May and June are the months to visit to see hawksbill and green sea turtles nesting on island beaches.
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard