Sea turtles are some of the world’s most beloved marine creatures, but as such, they face immense pressure to avoid extinction in our modern age. Although international trade in sea turtle products is banned due to each specie’s placement on a list of endangered species, many countries and peoples still harvest sea turtle eggs for consumption and kill sea turtles for their meat and products that can be made and sold with their carcasses.
Of course, most divers have an invested interest in seeing sea turtles, rather than exploiting them, so if you are passionate about seeing abundant numbers of sea turtles on your dives, here are three places where you’ll likely get your wish!
Leatherback, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles all build their nests on beaches along Costa Rica’s coasts. There are many networks run by locals that can help facilitate viewing the magnificent and diverse species of turtles that live there. Most of them are environmentally responsible and help protect the turtles.
Some of the best beaches include Pacuare Research Station, a leatherback sanctuary, and the Osa Peninsula, which is a popular foraging ground for green turtles and hawksbills. Different species operate on various nesting schedules, so if you have a specific turtle in mind that you want to see, do a little research first to plan your trip accordingly. A bonus of going to Costa Rica is also being able to explore some of the most spectacular untouched rainforests in the entire world.
Mexico hosts ideal habitat conditions for many species of turtles that includes several thousands miles of coastline where they nest and forage. Six out the seven species of sea turtles in the world reside in Mexico. The two most popular peninsulas to find turtles in Mexico include those near to Baja, California and the Yucatan peninsula near the Gulf of Mexico. The water is the perfect warm temperature here for the turtles.
If one visits the Baja Peninsula, they should not miss Magdalena Bay. In addition to sea turtles, many other interesting species can be seen there as well, including grey whales. The Yucatan Peninsula includes several important nesting beaches for green turtles and loggerheads. Some of the best beaches include Akumal Bay, Sian Ka’an, and X’Cacel beaches.
Cuba’s conservation and wildlife protection efforts have paid off over the years. In 2013, a record-breaking 900 nests were recorded. If you are considering getting to Cuba, perhaps your beat approach is to book a conservation tour to Guanahacabibes National Park. The main beaches within the park where nests are found in great quantity include Isla de Juventud, Cayo Largo, and Doce Leguas.