Turtle-Friendly Diving Tips

Divers can help sea turtles and other ocean wildlife both in and out of the water. Here are some easy ways to reduce your impact on these endangered animals.

In The Water

  • Choose Sunscreen Carefully. Look for brands with zinc oxide and avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone and sprays that pollute sand where turtles nest. The best way to stay safe is to cover up!

  • Respect The Coral. Corals are living animals so look but don’t touch! Stepping on or touching coral polyps can damage or kill them so be sure to practice good buoyancy. Floating above the coral is more fun!

  • Watch your fins. Keep them away from the reef. Frog kick is the best technique. Practice your buoyancy and control in water to never touch corals. Use reef hooks and pointy sticks carefully. 

  • Be Hands Free. Resist the temptation to ride or touch turtles and other animals. Circling, chasing, or harassing wildlife can stress them and cause injury.

  • Keep Your Distance. Stay at least 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) from wildlife unless one approaches you. If one approaches, be still and let the animal pass.

  • Record Respectfully. Keep selfie and Go Pro sticks and other equipment out of the way of wildlife, no photo is worth disturbing or stressing an animal.

  • Don't Feed The Turtles. Feeding wildlife can condition them to human food and have lasting negative impacts including habituation and poor nutrition.

  • Leave It Be. Collecting coral or other objects can damage ocean habitat (unless it’s trash).

  • Time's Up. Limit viewing time to maximum 30 minutes to reduce stress on wildlife, less if others are around to give others an opportunity to observe them.

  • Free & Clear. Make sure the animal has a route to get away if it wants and don’t chase an animal that is swimming away from you.

  • Pay Attention. Watch out for signs and obey all local regulations to make sure you are safe and not damaging the habitat.

  • Don’t drop anchor. Boat and anchor damage on coral reefs have a huge impact. Always look out for permanent buoys to avoid having to drop anchor. Ensure anchors are only dropped away from fragile habitat.

5 Tips For Turtle-Friendly Diving

On land

  • Avoid Turtleshell. Products made from sea turtle shells can be found in the tropics around the world. Learn how to avoid these products at TooRareToWear.org.

  • Plastic Free. Sea turtles often confuse plastic for food. Reduce your use of disposable plastic including bags and #skipthestraw.

  • Help The Injured. If you find an injured or distressed turtle or other marine animal, call local authorities or a rescue organization that can respond properly.

  • Leave No Trace. Help clean beaches and water of plastic and other litter when you visit.

  • Sustainable Seafood. If you eat seafood, choose local and wild seafood caught with environmentally-friendly fishing gear, preferably troll or hook and line. Learn more at Seafood Watch.

  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. While on vacation, use public transport and purchase carbon offsets. Climate change alters wildlife habitat and affects their food sources.

  • Lights Out. During nesting season on turtle beaches, don’t use white lights at night and keep beaches free of furniture and holes that can trap both the adults and hatchlings.

  • Fish Away. If you fish, cast your line away from where sea turtles are surfacing. If you come across a sea turtle that has been hooked DO NOT pull on the fishing line as this will cause further damage. Call local authorities or a rescue organization that can respond properly.

  • Safe Space. Always give nesting and basking sea turtles and other ocean wildlife that are resting plenty of space. Approaching and disturbing them can stress them and deplete precious energy reserves.

  • Save A Baby Turtle. Hatchlings face all kinds of threats, from poachers to plastic and climate change. Billion Baby Turtles is a program that helps save hatchlings at important turtle nesting beaches around Latin America and every $1 donated saves at least 5 baby turtles. Donate to save baby turtles here.