Does snorkelers and divers behavior influence marine turtles?
As summer and high tourist season is coming, we are expecting to observe an increased number of divers and snorkelers in the water. One of the reasons for so many tourists to come to the Red Sea is to enjoy the marine wildlife including sea turtles in their own habitat. However, the risk is that certain behaviors from people can scare these amazing animals. As an example, in Marsa Abu Dabbab is unfortunately very common to observe snorkelers surrounding solitary turtles, touching them, screaming, diving very close to the head of the animal to take pictures until it decides to leave. The turtle will probably move to a deeper area and people coming to Abu Dabbab later on will not be able to enjoy such an encounter.
There are few, simple rules to fully enjoy snorkeling/diving with turtles:
* When swimming with a turtle, always keep a distance of 2 meters to avoid any disturbance.
* The best way to enjoy the presence of turtles in the water is to follow them without making fast movements (especially with your arms).
* You can get closer to a turtle by gently approaching it from behind or one side always keeping a certain distance.
* Approach a turtle only in small groups (maximum 6 people) and do a semi-circle behind the animal so everybody will be able to enjoy the sighting.
* Never block a turtle when it tries to swim away! If you see that there are already people observing a turtle, please wait your turn or try to find another one!
* Never touch or ride a turtle! This is a very stressful situation for them and they will swim away.
* Never feed a turtle! Remember, sea turtles are wild animals and their ability to find food is fundamental to their survival. If you see people feeding turtles, please tell them that this is wrong!
* Never try to move a turtle from where it is resting or feeding. Do not encourage your dive guide to handle turtles and if you see him/her doing so, please let him/her know that this is a wrong behavior.
* Finally sea turtles are not aggressive animals however if they feel threatened, they will try to bite you. Even if they have no teeth, their upper and lower jaws are very sharp and act like a clamp. Once the muscles that open and close the jaws have contracted, it is very hard to escape from a turtle mouth.
If you witness wrong behavior, please report it to us at email@example.com
Happy turtle watching!