Earlier this year, British TV broadcaster Kate Humble teamed up with the Travel Foundation and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to urge UK tour operator representatives to encourage turtle-friendly tourist behaviour at Mediterranean holiday destinations.
The two charities launch a short animated film called Turtles in Trouble, narrated by the BBC Springwatch presenter, which explains how UK tour operator practice can make a positive difference to the conservation of endangered loggerhead and green turtles during the summer holiday season at destinations in Greece, Crete and Turkey. The light-hearted animation appears to have a very serious message – tour operators have a key role to play in the protection of endangered Mediterranean marine turtle populations. We've talked before about Loggerhead turtle bycatch, and having spent several summers protecting nesting sea turtles in Crete, I myself have witnessed first-hand what damage some beach resorts and pollution can cause to these ancient mariners, who have been travelling our oceans since the dinosaur era. Migrating thousands of miles, they return to the same beach they were born every year to lay their eggs, only to find their beaches eroded and littered with beach furniture and hotels.
Fortunately, there are lots of organisations trying to reverse the decline and protect these endangered sea turtles. Apart from joining the Great Turtle Race, if you’re planning a holiday near a sea turtle nesting beach, there are a few things you can do to help, too:
• Avoid speedboat and jet ski use where turtles are in the water;
• Ensure no light shines on to nesting beaches at night when the female turtles are nesting and the baby turtles are emerging from the nests;
• Keep beach furniture away from the nesting areas at the back of the beach;
• Removing beach furniture and other obstacles from the beach before nightfall during the turtle breeding season;
• Ensure responsible disposal of litter.