5 surprising facts about turtle cruelty happening today

May 23 2016

We’ve identified holding sea turtles as one of the ten cruelest wildlife tourist attractions. At the Cayman Turtle Centre, tourists can handle turtles and take selfies, potentially causing unnecessary suffering for the animals.

Sea turtles are solitary and naturally timid creatures. They are known to migrate thousands of miles through the ocean during their lifetime.

The sea turtles of the Cayman Turtle Centre are unable to roam the high seas. Instead, they are kept in cramped tanks and fed food pellets instead of natural sea grasses. Tourists visiting the centre are encouraged to handle the turtles and take selfie pictures, not realizing that this activity causes mental torment and physical suffering.

The Cayman Turtle Centre is also the last sea turtle farm on earth that breeds sea turtles for human consumption.

The following are five facts of turtle cruelty still happening today:

1. Fighting for space in cramped tanks

Wild sea turtles swim long distances in clear waters. So imagine the cruelty of trapping one in a small tank. Packed together, thousands of turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre spend their whole lives fighting for space in cramped tanks. The shallow tanks do not allow their natural behavior of diving and foraging for food. Instead, the turtles get sick and stressed. Their behavior changes and they turn on each other, biting and maiming one another.

2. Illness from sunblock and insect repellent

Sunscreen and insect repellent can be toxic to turtles, so handled animals are at risk from traces of these products left on tourists’ hands. Sadly these are both products which are likely to appear on the hands of tourists wishing to protect themselves from the Caribbean sun and mosquito population.

3. Stress causing a weakened immune system


Image: Michelle de Villiers

Due to their timid nature, when sea turtles are held, they suffer a great deal of stress. The stress can weaken their immune system and increase their susceptibility to disease.

4. Fractures and detached claws

When sea turtles are handled by tourists, they often panic and intensively flap their flippers which can cause fractures and detached claws. 

5. Broken Shells

Sometimes tourists handling struggling sea turtles accidentally drop them. This can cause significant injuries including a broken shell, which can kill the turtle.

Next, read about a 2014 disease outbreak at the Cayman Turtle Centre which killed more than 1200 turtles

Sea turtles deserve a better, more natural life

Sea turtles, like all wild animals, deserve to live free from suffering. The green sea turtle is an endangered species. We would like to see the Cayman Turtle Centre be turned into a sea turtle rehabilitation and education facility like the Kélonia Observatory for Marine Turtles on the island of Réunion which mirrors the conditions of a turtle’s natural habitat.

As you read this, Carnival Cruise Line is shipping more tourists to Cayman Turtle Centre. Please sign our petition urging Carnival Cruise Line to protect endangered sea turtles and stop their trips to Cayman Turtle Centre.

The Cayman Turtle Centre is also the last sea turtle farm on earth that breeds sea turtles for human consumption.
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