The Cayman Islands, located in the Western Caribbean, offer tourists the chance to come in close contact with underwater creatures.
During a vacation, my family and I visited the Cayman Turtle Farm, where individuals can touch stingrays and swim with turtles. Although the phrase “turtle farm” might sound alarming, the Cayman Turtle Farm is actually a conservation facility for Green Sea turtles.
The conservation center focuses on reproduction and release back into the wild, while also stressing the history of these sea turtles in the Grand Caymans. In the 1700s, a “turtling” industry developed because sailors and other travelers would eat turtle meat. As a result, this bizarre industry greatly depleted the turtle population both in and around the island. International regulations in this trade eventually developed while the turtle has still remained an important feature of the Cayman Island–the island’s flag even has a sea turtle on it!
The Cayman Turtle farm is dedicated to rehabilitating this endangered turtle species, and 31,018 turtles have already been released into the ocean from the center. During my visit, there was an assortment of pools that held turtles ranging in age from young to old. At the Green’s Breeding Pond, I observed large turtles—think 500 pounds—floating around. These turtles were generally older because turtles do not breed until maturity, which can be anywhere from 16-50 years old.
My favorite part of the turtle farm was the Turtle Touch Tanks. At these tanks, I was able to touch baby turtles and inspect their features up close. The turtles were surprisingly easy to hold and looked even more adorable at a closer view. Sometimes when I picked a turtle up, they would flap their arms and legs around.
Visitors can also see a huge saltwater crocodile and a loggerhead turtle. The loggerhead turtle is a hard-shelled turtle with a very strong jaw. Though I did not swim with the young sea turtles, individuals do have that option.
The Cayman Turtle Farm is a worthwhile visit if you love turtles. Even if you do not love these creatures before walking into the center, it is likely that you will leave with a newfound appreciation of these awesome animals.