Turtle-mating season under way

A pair of turtles mate just off the beach at Boggy Sand Road in West Bay. - Photo: Martin Coetsee

Sharp-eyed observers recently have been spotting sea turtles mating just offshore at several spots throughout Cayman.

While there has been a proliferation of turtle sightings from land in recent weeks, Department of Environment Deputy Director Tim Austin is urging people not to disturb the animals.

“Anybody that sees a turtle in the wild needs to really keep their distance from it,” he said.

“They are a protected species, very culturally important, and they’re easily disturbed, particularly if they are mating. Do not approach.”

The turtle mating and nesting seasons are under way.

Austin said that during those periods, turtles often can be seen on local beaches and near the shore.

He said though their behaviour may be “fascinating” to observe, people should stay away from the turtles.

He also urged boaters to watch out for the animals at sea, but not to go near them.

“Typically, they [mating turtles] will remain locked together for several hours. So, if they get disturbed, then suddenly the reproductive event may not be as successful as it should have been. We encourage people to stay away. It is against the law to harm or to approach or to do anything that disturbs the turtle,” he said.

Similarly, with turtles nesting on a beach, he said, people should keep their distance so the animals can lay their eggs.

“If you’ve come across a turtle on the beach at night, you’re advised to keep the lights off of it, stay away. Let us know where you’re seeing it and we’ll come and check it in the morning. But again, please keep a long way away,” Austin said.

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