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Dutch Caribbean

Curaçao Island Sea Turtles


Conservation benefit:Public outreach campaign to stop tourism practices that harm endangered marine turtles

Date Approved: 02.2024


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Endangered green, hawksbill, and loggerhead marine turtles are seen around Curaçao, but their populations have declined significantly. This project seeks to protect them by reaching out to tourists, who pose a significant threat to the turtles’ well-being.

Many tourists don’t recognize the signs of turtle nests and sometimes disturb nesting areas on island beaches. Unregulated tour operators also feed the turtles, luring them close so well-meaning visitors can feed and photograph them. This habituates the turtles to people and boats, which they come to associate with food. As a result, they are more likely to be hit and injured by boats–or to be killed as they swim through areas where people hunt turtles. The food provided is unnatural and unhealthy, leading to obesity and potentially other health problems.

Our project partner, Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, aims to reduce these harms by:

  • Installing signs at five popular beaches and two other sites where harmful tourist behavior takes place, explaining what people should do, and not do, when they encounter marine turtles.
  • Distributing information packages (brochures, stickers, and so on) for the more than 100 dive centers on the island, including how to identify turtles with Fibropapillomatosis (FG), a virus that causes the animals to develop tumors. When infected animals are reported to STCC, they can be caught and treated.
  • Upgrading the STCC headquarters, in a small donated space at a shopping area, where STCC can disseminate information and receive donations.

Project Updates

June 2024

In May, Seacology’s director Duane Silverstein visited a beach where tourists, eager to touch turtles, sometimes end up accidentally kicking them as they swim. He was impressed with the effort and dedication of the volunteers running our partner organization, STCC.

Read more
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