Please ensure you read the turtle watcher's code of conduct before heading to the beaches to interact with marine turtles.
As a key rule, please do not use a torch either at nesting or hatching as this can disorientate the turtle and cause them to abandon their nesting.
Stay still and at least 15m away until she is returning to the ocean when you can approach at 2m.
- Walk along the beach at the high tide mark (near the water) looking for tracks in the wet sand, or turtles.
- Do not approach or shine lights on turtles leaving the water or moving up the beach.
- If a turtle is encountered, calmly stop where you are, sit down, and wait for her to start digging.
- Avoid excess noise and sudden movement at all times.
- When approaching a nesting turtle crawl up behind her on your stomach (”commando crawl”).
- Always position yourself behind the turtle and stay low (sit, crouch or lie on the sand).
- If you are getting covered in sand as she digs you are too close!
- Be patient - the nesting process may take 20 to 40 minutes - She may abandon the nest and dig another one for a variety of reasons including hitting an obstacle or the sand being too dry.
- Wait until she is laying before moving closer. She will be quite still when laying her eggs - if sand is spraying or she is using her flippers, she is not laying.
- Give her enough space to camouflage the nest.
- Stay out of her sight
- Let her return to the ocean without interruption or getting between her and the ocean. This can take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Avoid all flash photography.
- Depart all beaches by 11pm.
More information on the turtle watcher's code of conduct can be found here.
It is extremely important that hatchlings are not handled or interfered with in any way during this time. Doing so will interrupt the completion of various developmental stages of the hatchling, thereby threatening its chances of survival.
- Stand back from the nest - do not compact the sand.
- Let the hatchlings make their own way down the beach.
- Hatchlings can get stuck in footprints so stand to the side rather than crossing their path.
- Do not touch or handle the hatchlings.
- Do not use lights or flash photography.
- Do not get between the hatchlings and the ocean.
- No Glow, Move Slow and Stay Low - Photography and torches must not be used as these discourage turtles from emerging on the beach, make nesting turtles return to the water and disorientate hatchlings. Turtle watchers should move slowly and crouch low to the ground when near turtles to avoid disturbing the nesting.
- Stop, Drop and Become a Rock - When near a turtle, stop (where you are), drop (slowly to the ground) and become a rock (stay still like a rock). If you follow these guidelines, you will not jeopardize the egg laying and hatching processes.