A lot of people would like to go snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles. We can’t blame them because sea turtles are one of the cutest and most gracious sea creatures in the world. They have been around for over 150 million years, which is long enough to witness the dinosaurs come and go extinct. Sea turtles are marine reptiles, and they have adapted their bodies to be able to live in the oceans and spend about 96% of their lives there. Sea turtles are considered to be expert navigators because they can often migrate thousands of miles between their feeding grounds and nesting beaches.
Types of Sea Turtles
Sea turtles have fascinated snorkelers every time because of their size and elegance as they float and swim through the waters while looking for food. But take note that sea turtles are also timid creatures, which is why an encounter with them is an extraordinary moment.
Green Sea Turtles – Green sea turtles are the most common sea turtle that you can find in Hawaii. They can weigh up to a whopping 400 pounds and grow up to four feet in length. The native green turtle is known to feed on seagrasses that are located close to the shore and, they are not actually green. They are brown in color.
Hawksbill Turtles – Named after a bird because it has a snout that looks like a giant bird’s beak, the hawksbill turtle is an inborn to Hawaiian waters. They can grow up to 200 pounds, and they use their beaks to eat shellfish and sponges.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles – Also called as Caretta Caretta, this sea turtle species can be seen around the world. They can grow up to 35 inches in length and weigh up to 135 kilograms. They have a yellow or brown color, and they spend most of their life in saltwater with female loggerhead turtles that briefly come to the shore and lay eggs.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles – Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, this type of turtle is considered to be the most abundant sea turtles in the world. They are typically found in tropical countries where there is warm water. They can grow to about 2 feet long when they are fully developed, and they are considered to be the second smallest sea turtle in the world.
Leatherback Turtles – An encounter with one of these turtles are considered to be a Holy Grail by several snorkelers. Leatherback turtles can weigh a whopping two thousand pounds and eight feet long. Unlike any other kinds of sea turtles, the shell of the leatherback turtle is not that hard. Spotting one of these gentle giant turtles is a rare occurrence because they do not always come close to shore, and they prefer to hunt food in deeper waters.
Look but Don’t Touch
If you ever have the chance to come across some of these turtles while snorkeling, the first thing that you should not forget is that sea turtles are also under the protection of the law.
Keep in mind that sea turtles should have a wide berth of at least six to ten feet. If a turtle happens to swim towards you, you should have to stay still and enjoy your close encounter and remember to move carefully and be mindful of not hitting the turtle with your flippers. Please take note that sea turtles require oxygen, so remember not to crowd the surface of the water or overfeeding turtles, to avoid them from coming up for air. If you see a turtle that is in trouble, you should alert the authorities or tell a local snorkeling guide.
Where to Look
Maldives – You will be able to see several turtles in different parts of the Maldives. However, the most often sightings of these gentle creatures are always at Ari Atoll. Here you can find several hawksbill turtles, and you will be able to swim with green turtles and Ridley sea turtles.
Mexico – If you want to see hundreds of green and loggerhead turtles while they are feeding on the abundant seagrass, then Mexico is the right place for you. You have to go to Akumal, Riviera Maya, this name translates to “place of the turtle” and it has a beautiful shallow, protected bay where you can snorkel and watch sea turtles to your heart’s content.
Hawaii – In Maui, Hawaii, you will find Turtle Town. This place really lives up to its name because you will be able to see several Hawaiian Green sea turtles, hawksbill, olive ridley, loggerhead, leatherback turtles in the Hawaiian waters. Here you can witness the turtle swim along with the incredible underwater lava formations that are also abundant with all sorts of marine life.
Greece – A place in Greece called Zante is excellent to spot to see loggerhead turtles, or what the locals like to call Carreta Caretta. These types of turtles make several beaches as their primary nesting ground in the Mediterranean. Experts consider Zante to be Europes most important endangered turtle habitat and one of the most important in the world. Every summer, the employees of Zante National Marine Park, watch the turtle-nesting beaches during daytime and night time. They count turtle nests while giving out information to tourists and reminding them to keep away from the nesting areas.