How Can You Help Turtles?

Below is a partial list of ways that people can make a difference for turtles:

  • Reduce the amount of garbage you produce and clean up trash you find. Turtles can become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by turtles, often resulting in injury or death.
  • Reduce the Amount of Chemicals You Use. The chemicals you use on your lawn and in your home can actually wash into the waterways – killing plants and animals. It is very important to properly dispose of toxic chemicals and, even better, find alternative products such as biodegradable solutions.
  • Volunteer.
  • Organize a clean-up day with your friends and pick-up litter.
  • Give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger.
  • Visit the local wildlife organizations. Your friendly support matters.
  • Donations to non-profits, like Nature Abounds, that are doing their best to help turtles and other wildlife.
  • Use Less Packaging. The oceans are littered with 47,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Here are a few tips to reduce your plastic consumption:
    • Shop at the farmer's market
    •   Employ reusable grocery bags
    •   Stop drinking bottled water
    •   Repair products instead or replacing them with new ones
  • Write your Congressperson. Ask your legislator to help pass regulations to protect turtles.
  • If you find turtles in a safe place, leave them there. They should not be taken home as "pets."  They want to live free with other turtles and have their own families.
  • If you find turtles in a place that isn’t safe, let them go in the woods or in a park nearby. 
  • If you know of turtles that need rescuing, contact the local turtle society or rescue organization. (see list on Turtle Ambassador Resource webpage).
  • If you see turtles on their backs at the side of the road, carefully turn them over and put them well away from the traffic.  When moving turtles out of the road, don’t put them in ditches or very rocky places; gently put them on nice flat areas of grass or dirt facing in the same direction they were going. Long-tailed turtles might be snapping turtles and they can bite. They can be safely moved out of the street with a long-handled shovel but be sure to be very gentle.
  • Don’t buy real tortoiseshell barrettes, brushes, ornaments or jewelry.  Make sure it’s plastic before buying anything that looks like tortoiseshell.
  • Support Efforts To Combat The "Asian Turtle Crisis" - The majority of Asian turtle populations have been critically diminished by over-collection, particularly for delicacies in restaurants and live animal markets. Dealers are now targeting turtle populations elsewhere, such as in the United States and Europe, to meet the Asian demand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified this as the "Asian turtle crisis," and it has spearheaded efforts to protect turtles from the trade. Turtles are also among the most popular offerings at live animal markets in the United States. They suffer terrible abuse in filthy, neglectful conditions, and they are slaughtered by being cut apart while conscious.
  • Protect turtle and tortoise habitat. Become active in your local conservation commission or parks and recreation department, and work to preserve turtle  habitat.
  • Stop turtle and tortoise exploitation. Avoid activities such as turtle races. They involve taking turtles out of their natural habitats and exposing them to many dangers, not to mention an enormous amount of stress. Races can harm individual turtles as well as entire local wild populations.
  • Give them a brake. If you see a turtle or tortoise crossing a road, gently pick him up and carry him across in the direction he was headed. (Be watchful for cars in the process.) If the turtle is a large one,    or a snapping turtle, use a stick to nudge him gently across the road without getting too close.
  • Make a difference on climate change, for turtles and all other living creatures:
  • Purchase Energy-Star qualified appliances.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescents.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle all plastic, glass and paper waste.
  • Use energy-saving methods of transportation.
  • Plant native plants and vegetation to provide better nesting habitat.
  • Look for alternative sources of energy, like solar or wind.
  • Write to law makers to encourage more efficient use of energy.

How People Can Help Sea Turtles?

In addition to helping turtles in ways listed above, there are also many other ways people can help Sea Turtles:

  • Turn out lights visible from the beach.
  • Be aware of sea turtle nesting areas and avoid nesting and hatching turtles. 
  • Knock down your sandcastles before you leave. They are real fortresses to baby sea turtles trying to find a clear path to the sea.
  • Place beach umbrellas below the high tide line. Sea turtles nest in drier sand higher on the beach.
  • Don't go on the beach at night. The fewer disturbances, the more likely the chances that turtle nesting efforts will be successful.
  • Don't help sea turtle hatchlings into the water. They have to flex their muscles before trying to swim.
  • Don't camp on the beach.
  • Don't drive on the beach. You could crush sea turtle eggs, hatchlings, or grown sea turtles.
  • Buy eco-friendly seafood. Ask questions before you buy. Find out how and where the seafood came from.
  • Pick-up fishing line. Fishing line takes 600 years to biodegrade.
  • If in a boat, use a map to avoid sea grass beds.
  • Don't harass turtles while diving. When encountering turtles, resist the urge to reach out and pet or otherwise touch or grab them. Many turtles will allow you to come close. Feel free to take pictures, but don't bother the turtles. 
  • Help protect nesting areas. Voice your opposition to coastal development such as condominiums, houses, resorts, and hotels which tend to expose beaches to excessive artificial lighting, which discourages female turtles from approaching the beach to lay eggs. The light also draws hatchlings away from the ocean, disorients them, and exposes them to predation and deadly dehydration.
  • Report crimes. Tell local authorities if you see any person harassing or poaching a sea turtle, her eggs, hatchlings, nests, or those of any other endangered turtles and tortoises. These activities are violations of U.S. state and federal laws.