Swimming with the Turtles in Barbados
Turtle Time In Barbados
There are three main species of sea turtles found in the waters surrounding Barbados:
— the green turtle (Chelonia myda)
— the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and
— the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).
The green turtle and the hawksbill turtle both nest in Barbados mainly between May to October, however nesting has been documented in every month of the year.
The leatherback turtle’s nesting season in Barbados is between February and July.
It is currently thought that sea turtles live for 60+ years however there is no present measure to accurately age live adult sea turtles.
Did you know? As of 1998, the Government of Barbados made it illegal to catch any species of sea turtle in Barbados, as well as possess any kind of turtle product such as their shells and eggs.
This is considered a serious offence in Barbados, so please keep this in mind during your stay on the island. Penalties for breaking this law can include fines of up to $50,000 BBD and/or two years in jail.
The reason behind this is that the sea turtles have always been locals to the island however over the years they have started to become both critically endangered and endangered species.
According to the Barbados Sea Turtle Project (www.barbadosseaturtles.org), the hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles are considered critically endangered, whereas the green turtles are considered to be endangered (www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/categories-and-criteria/2001-categories-criteria#critical).
Over harvesting for turtle shells, meat and eggs, as well as beachfront developments like sea walls, and introduced animals such as the mongoose disturbing nesting areas, are all factors contributing to a declining local turtle population in Barbados. A large number of sea turtles are also accidentally caught and drowned in fishing nets and long-line fishing gear.
Note: Tortoise shell jewellery is made from the hawksbill turtle shell and canned turtle soup was once made by using the meat from the green turtle.
In an attempt to try to slow down this extinction process, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project was formed in an effort to restore the local Barbadian marine turtle populations. Employing various conservation measures and monitoring programmes, the project encourages research and the conservation of the turtle populations at both local and regional levels.
Swim With The Turtles In Barbados
Swimming with the turtles is an extremely popular activity to do in Barbados, for both locals and visitors alike.
The fact that there is hardly anywhere else in the world where you can interact with these sea turtles in their natural environment is just another thing that makes Barbados so special and not surprisingly makes it a ‘must do’ experience during your time on the island.
You can swim with the turtles in many spots dotted all around the island.
Simply grab your snorkelling gear and head out to where you see the tourist boats feeding the turtles, and you’re bound to catch an up close and personal glimpse of at least one of these magnificent beauties.
You can also actually go out on of these same boats that are solely dedicated to taking you out to swim and feed the sea turtles of Barbados.
Perhaps taking a catamaran cruise is more your style?
Rest assured, there’s nearly always a stop along the west coast of the island designated to swimming with the turtles on these types of local sailing cruises. Most tour operators also provide snorkelling equipment such as life jackets, masks, snorkels and fins, which is normally part of the all-inclusive sailing packages for most local catamarans.
In addition to swimming with the turtles, you can also explore underwater shipwrecks on the catamaran cruises, as well as swim and interact with countless other types of colorful tropical fish. This makes for a unique and vibrant underwater petting zoo, as well as a great photo opportunity.
Swimming with the turtles is an exciting Barbados attraction. Children, teenagers and adults will all enjoy feeding and swimming with the sea turtles of Barbados in the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
We’re sure you’ll love it too!
Author: Brett Callaghan