Learn How You Can Protect our Turtles

We love our turtles here on Tybee Island! We work hard to educate the public and our visitors about the importance of our sea life including our turtles and share our knowledge of how you can help save the amazing creatures. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center‘s mission is to cultivate a responsible stewardship of coastal Georgia’s natural resources through education, conservation, and research. They have been helping Tybee Island to fight for these amazing creatures and preserve their lives, one turtle at a time.

Fun Sea Turtle Facts

  • Sea turtles are amazing creatures who have near perfect sight in water, but out of the water their vision is limited.
  • They have an amazing sense of smell.
  • Females are usually the only ones that come on land, the males rarely do.
  • Unlike land turtles, sea turtles cannot pull in their heads and flippers for protection so they are more vulnerable to enemies and human inventions like boats and fishing nets.
  • Females leave the water to lay eggs on land every other year. Once the eggs hatch, the baby turtles return to the sea. As adults, the females always return to where they were hatched to lay their own set of eggs.
  • Sea turtles do not have teeth but rather they have “beaks” to help them catch their prey or grab seaweed.
  • All sea turtles are endangered, or critically endangered, all over the world.
  • Sea turtles are live representations of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years.

Turtles of Georgia

  • Loggerhead Sea Turtle – Caretta Caretta – are usually 33-49 inches in length and eat a diet of clams and sea urchins.
  • Green Sea Turtle – Chelonia Mydas – are usually 31-47 inches in length and eat a diet of seagrass.
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle – Dermochelys Coriacea – are usually 55-63 inches in length and eat a diet of jellyfish.

Please note that nesting season is from May 1st to October 31st. So, please be aware of your actions on our beaches and do what you can to help protect our sea turtles. There once were millions of sea turtles in the world and now only a fraction of them remain.

Protect our Turtles

Here are tips on things you can do to help protect Georgia’s sea turtles:

  • Do not use lights on the beach at night. Instead use red filtered flashlights if you are walking on the beach at night.
  • Never disturb a sea turtle that is crawling to or from the sea.
  • Once a sea turtle has begun nesting, observe her only from a distance.
  • Do not shine lights in a sea turtles eyes or take flash photography.
  • Do not touch or disturb nests or hatchlings.
  • Remove beach litter such as balloons, plastic bags, foam, fishing gear and other non-degradable litter. These items can cause the deaths of many sea turtles who mistake them for food.
  • As your beach day comes to an end, fill holes dug in the sand and tear down sandcastles, as they become obstacles in a sea turtles nesting journey.
  • Do not touch a sea turtle. Most people will oooohhh and ahhh when they see any gorgeous sea turtle, especially baby sea turtles. Take a picture with your mind and not a flash camera, as that can be harmful and confusing to them.
  • If you see a turtle crossing the road, pick it up and carry it to the side in which it is heading, to help it avoid injury.
  • Do not interfere with baby sea turtles. If you touch them, there are lots of chemicals on your hands that could hurt the baby turtle. Additionally, they imprint on the sand as they make their trek to the water and it’s crucial that they have the time to imprint.

If you see a dead or injured turtle or anyone harassing a sea turtle, call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-2-SAVE-ME (if the sea turtle is tagged, include the tag color and number in the report). Tybee Island Marine Science Center – 912.786.5917

Images shared from Tybee Sea Turtle Project

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