Love & Life of the Green Sea Turtle

Swimming with the Turtles in Barbados – Kissing Turtles

Tiami Catamaran Cruises Barbados

Endangered Species

The Green Sea Turtles hang out along the reefs off the west coast of Barbados. Not long ago they were considered a delicacy and harvested as food by local fishermen. Today all turtles in Barbados are protected. It is illegal to catch any species of sea turtle, or possess any turtle product (i.e. meat, shell, eggs) in Barbados. Penalties include fines up to $50,000 Barbados dollars and/or two years in jail.

Now abundant around the Barbados coral reefs

As a result of these conservation and protection measures, the turtle population in Barbados has grown and flourished. They nest on the beaches mostly on the south and west side of the island, and you will see them swimming off the reefs where they tend to frequent specific areas and frequently return to their favorite spots.

Mating & Breeding

Watch this video (above) to see the turtles Kiss

We don’t know if this video is technically and politically correct. It seems to show two turtles kissing. Can that be true? – We will have to investigate – but watch it for yourself. The kiss is slightly elongated in our movie production but the action is unedited!! What do you think? Do Turtles Kiss?

Anyway the turtles are having a ball and seem to love all the attention and the frolic with swimmers on this catamaran sail and party cruise.

So here are the facts that we know on turtles romance. Females turtles mate every two to four years. Males can mate every year. So you have to wait up to 4 years for a mate as a female, but we suppose kissing can be anytime!

After mating the female turtles wait a 7-10 weeks gestation period. They then pull themselves out of the water to dig nest for their eggs in the sand, above the high water mark. The mother will dig a hole a foot or more with the hind flippers and lay over 100 eggs. She will cover them in sand and return back out to sea. The sand protects the eggs from predators and keeps the shells moist and at the right temperature. The mother will swim away after laying her eggs and never return. The hatchlings tend to return to the beach where they were hatched as they mature (maybe more than 25 years later).

tiny baby turtle

tiny baby turtle being helped to the sea.

The eggs hatch during the night around 45 to 75 days after laying. The Green turtle hatchlings are tiny, no bigger than a the palm of a child’s hand. They instinctively head directly into the water. This is the most dangerous time in a turtle’s life as they must avoid gulls, crabs, and beach dogs that feed on them. Many never make it to the ocean.

Young Turtles living on Floating Islands of Seaweeds

The juvenile turtles spend up to five years in the open ocean. They are rarely seen as they live for several years in the deep, pelagic waters. Imagine these tiny little creatures fending all for themselves in the ocean way off the shore. How brave they must be. Scientist refer to this stage as the “The Lost Years” as little is known. They get carried on tides and live close to the surface hiding in floating seaweeds. Some species end up in the gulf stream, hitching a ride on the “floating nursery” of the Sargasso sea. A cycle of floating Sargassum seaweed that circulates clockwise around the north Atlantic, providing a refuge for small turtles. In this stage the turtles are carnivorous, feeding on the bite-sized, floating prey. Living like this they remind me of the floating islands in Bolivia’s great lake Titicaca where whole families have for generation lived in houses made of reeds floating on islands of reeds.

Later, as they mature and become the size of a diner plate, they return to the shallow coastal waters the feed on seagrass and a mostly herbivorous diet.

Young Turtles take from twenty to fifty years to reach sexual maturity and can live up to eighty years in the wild. Only 1% of hatchlings reach maturity.

Mature Adult Turtles 25 Years and Over

Mature turles return to the land where they  hatched

Mature turles return to the land where they hatched

Mature turtles spend most of their time in shallow, coastal waters with lush seagrass beds. Adults frequent inshore bays, lagoons and shoals with lush seagrass meadows. Entire generations often migrate between one pair of feeding and nesting areas

Migration

In the wild green sea turtles migrate long distances from feeding and nesting sites. Some swim more than 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) to reach their spawning grounds. In Barbados, with turtles so well fed by visiting tourists and locals, perhaps they migrate less. We will look for more research as time progresses.

Breathing and sleep

Sea turtles spend almost all their lives underwater but come to the surface to breathe air for the oxygen they need every 4 to 5 minutes during active hours. They will rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time.

Turtle Hatchlings being rescued from dusk waters at feeding time

THese tiny Hawskbill turtles are picked up by the Beach Wardens along the boardwalk in Barbados south coast. Tey are being saved from entering the water at dusk a bad time for tiny turtles to swim. Wardens try to help turtles survive all sorts of hazards in an effort to protect the species.


 

Join a Turtle Adventure and Swim with the Turtles in Barbados –

Tiami Cruises

You can see the turtles, and even swim with them, by taking a catamaran cruise along the coast.

They are beautiful and very social. We are told to respect them and not pet them. That is pretty hard to resist as you just want to reach out and connect with these large, big shelled, green turtles that swim under the boat and seem to want to play.

The crew, who swims with them regularly, knows them by colors and markings, and seems to have a personal friendship. I think that the friendship is mostly because they quietly feed them; but hey, it’s cool. Turtles love it and know that they are protected. They don’t end up in soup. It’s excellent for the turtles and lovely for us all to see them.

You can get more information and book a cruise on the Tiami website at http://TiamiCatamaranCruises.com/

More on the Cruises see our Party boats and Taimi Catamaran page


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Love & Life of the Green Sea Turtle

Swimming with the Turtles in Barbados – Kissing Turtles Tiami Catamaran Cruises Barbados Endangered Species The Green Sea Turtles hang out along the reefs off the west coast of Barbados. Not long ago they were considered a delicacy and harvested as food by local fishermen. Today all turtles in Barbados are protected. It is illegal to catch ...

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