Marine Life

The vast waters of The Bahamas team with an amazing array of marine habitats, including coral reefs and mangroves that feature a diversity of dolphins, sharks, and rays as well as sea turtles and manatees.

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Reptilian relics

Sea turtles are ancient reptiles that have been on this planet for more than 100 million years, surviving multiple mass extinctions. There are seven species of these “living fossils” and they are all endangered. The most characteristic part of the sea turtle is its shell that is composed of scales called scutes. The scutes are used to identify a particular species and are hard except for the largest species, the leatherback sea turtle, in which they are flexible and rubbery. Instead of possessing teeth, sea turtles have a beak that is modified for either grazing on sea grass or for grabbing their prey such as jellies, squids, sponges, and shrimp.

Egg layers

Just like other reptile species, sea turtles lay eggs. Every two to three years, females come ashore a few weeks after mating, use their fore flippers to dig a body pit, and then use their hind flippers to dig a cavity in which they lay 50-200 soft-shelled eggs. The young usually hatch 45-70 days later and then make their way into the sea.

Threats to Sea turtles

Sea turtles are threatened by a large host of challenges including:

  • Entanglement in fishing nets and lines
  • Trash ingestion, especially plastic bags that look like jellies
  • Pollution that includes oil spills and agricultural and mining runoff
  • Bycatch as part of fishing operations
  • Destruction of coral reefs
  • Development on nesting beaches
  • Climate change

How can you help?

Every Day Efforts Make a Difference

Pick up any trash since most of it ends up in waterways; stop using plastic bags and water bottles; stay alert while driving a boat and follow posted speeds to avoid collisions with sea turtles and other marine life. If you live in a sea turtle nesting area, keep your lights off during nesting season, don’t build fires on the beach, never disturb a nesting female, and avoid areas that have been roped off to protect nests and hatchlings.

Get Involved

Sea Turtle Conservancy kicked off its thirteenth annual Tour de Turtles with a live sea turtle release in August 2020. You can get involved by supporting a sea turtle to help raise awareness about the challenges they face. While we may not know the outcome of the race, one thing is certain: saving sea turtles is a marathon, not a sprint!


Join Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Eco-volunteer Adventure where you will be able to work with researchers to find, tag, and record data about leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica. Counting turtle tracks in the sand helps scientists determine if that location is highly populated for nesting. Also, you will have the opportunity to help tag the nesting turtles. The tagging process helps reveal information on the life cycle and migratory patterns of certain sea turtle species, which aids in determining if that location has a growing or declining population of nesting turtles.

What we are doing

Atlantis is also actively breeding and releasing the endangered green sea turtle. Over 700 hatchlings have been returned to the ocean to date that will help increase wild populations.

Tour de Turtles is a fun, educational experience focusing on the migration of multiple sea turtle species using satellite telemetry. This sea turtle marathon migration starts at their nesting beaches and ends when they reach their foraging grounds: a trek that usually takes about three months.

Fans can follow the turtles’ migrations online at, cheering on their favorite competitor and learning about threats sea turtles face. These threatened and endangered competitors swim with the goal of being the sea turtle to swim the furthest distance during the contest. Similar to many people who run marathons, each Tour de Turtles competitor is swimming to raise awareness about a particular cause. The Causes Challenge raises an understanding about threats to sea turtles such as boat strikes or marine pollution.