7 Sea Turtle Spots Around the World

Six of the seven species of these graceful underwater creatures are endangered.
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There are seven species of sea turtles, all of which you could find while on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

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One of the many perks of cruising is being able to hop off the ship, grab your snorkeling gear and dive into the wonders that lie beneath the ocean’s surface. What you just might find on your adventure is the extraordinary marine life that calls the sea home, such as the seven species of sea turtles around the world. Luckily, not only does Royal Caribbean sail to the destinations where you may discover these magnificent creatures, but you also can join us to support programs that benefit their well-being on World Sea Turtle Day and all year long.

With our partners at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we’ve developed ongoing programs and goals to help in the long-term health of the oceans and their iconic wildlife. Because, despite their beauty, six of the seven species of sea turtles are classified as threatened or endangered due to poaching, habitat destruction, accidental capture and other causes.

Pro tip: It’s incredible to swim with sea turtles should you cross paths with them, and it’s important to remain a safe distance if you do. Their shells may look tough, but they are sensitive to the oils on our hands.

Read on to discover where you can see and appreciate these gentle giants yourself, and learn more about the ongoing programs to support them:

 

Brisbane, Australia – Hawksbill

Known for their pointed beak and the distinct overlapping scales that cover their shells, the hawksbill sea turtle can be found in Brisbane, Australia. They’re omnivores with a preference for sea sponges and can grow to be 2 to 3 feet wide. If you ever find yourself spending a day on the beach in Brisbane, be sure to take a peek under water, too, for a chance to spot one swimming around the coral reefs.

The hawksbill is also critically endangered, in part due to the illegal trading of their shells. With WWF-Australia and Australian Museum Research Institute, we launched “Surrender Your Shell.” Some people may have unknowingly purchased these shells and items, and they can be handed in for research purposes. With our support through funding, scientists developed a way to extract DNA from the items to identify the turtle populations most at risk. This allows them to trace the origins and pinpoint the illegal sale and nesting beach location.

 

Catch a glimpse of the leatherback at Bridgetown, Barbados.

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Bridgetown, Barbados – Leatherback

Leatherbacks stand out from other sea turtles because their shells are soft, instead of hard, and leather-like. They are the largest sea turtle species, and they migrate across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch one floating off the coast of our southern Caribbean homeport and popular port of call—Bridgetown, Barbados. Sadly, the leatherback is susceptible to egg collection and fisheries, making them vulnerable today.

Fun fact: We’re lending a hand to Florida Atlantic University in their crucial leatherback research at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Florida.

 

The loggerhead feeds on hard-shell marine life—made easy, thanks to its powerful jaws.

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Port Canaveral, Florida – Loggerhead

The loggerhead is known for its larger head and powerful jaw, which allows it to munch on hard-shelled marine life like sea urchins and clams. You can look out for them around the Mediterranean and New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as well as off the coast of Port Canaveral, Florida. Though they are powerful, these turtles are still at risk because they tend to run into fisheries when grazing.

 

The olive ridley has a very distinct heart-shaped shell.

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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – Olive Ridley

When you see this species’ shell, you’ll understand why they’re named olive ridley turtles. Their shells are a shade of olive green you can’t miss. You can spot them across the globe, like in the waters of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, which you’ll visit while on Navigator of the SeasLos Angeles‘ newest resident. Although they are the most populous sea turtle, they’re still considered vulnerable because they nest in mass numbers at the same time each year and return to the same beach where they hatched—which makes them easy to find.

 

Green sea turtles swim freely in Vanuatu’s beautiful coral reefs.

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Port Vila, Vanuatu – Hawksbill and Green

Vanuatu, a South Pacific island nation, is known for its stunning landscapes and wildlife, including two—possibly three—species of sea turtles. From Turtle Reef, a zoological organization about 20 minutes outside Port Vila, to Moso Island’s 900-acre Tranquility Island Resort, which is also a turtle sanctuary, there are various places to see endangered species like hawksbill and green turtles. In recent years, leatherback turtles have made some rare appearances in Vanuatu’s waters as well. Sail on a South Pacific or Australian cruise on Radiance, Quantum or Ovation of the Seas and keep an eye out for these sea turtles swimming offshore or nesting on the beaches. You could even take a ride on a glass-bottomed boat nearby.

Pro tip: Flatback turtles, identified by their uniquely flat shells, are also native to the South Pacific. They are a small group that only nests in Australia—it’s the one place you can find them.

 

Green sea turtles get their name from the color of their flippers.

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St. George’s Island, Bermuda – Green

Unlike the others, the green sea turtle is named for the color of its cartilage instead of its shell. It is the only herbivore of the seven species. After checking out the ruins of Martello Tower on St. George’s Island, Bermuda, you can pop on some snorkeling gear to try and catch a glimpse of this sea turtle’s green flippers cruising by you beneath the surface. They’re an endangered species due to losing many nesting sites, the overharvesting of their eggs and the poaching of the adults.

 

The Kemp’s ridley is the most endangered species of sea turtle.

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Galveston, Texas – Kemp’s Ridley

If you join Allure of the Seas in Galveston, Texas, look out for Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. They have triangular heads, hooked beaks and round, grayish-green shells. With some extra time—before or after your cruise—roaming around Galveston’s colorful streets, you can pop by the nearby shores for a peek at this special species mostly found in the Gulf of Mexico.

They are the most endangered species of the seven, primarily because they are often accidentally captured in fishing nets. To help prevent accidental capture, Royal Caribbean helped fund WWF’s development of technology that places LED lights on gillnets (so the turtles can see them and steer clear).

 

Head here to see how Royal Caribbean can take you to these places and more, so you can discover natural wonders—and their inhabitants, like the sea turtles.