Tour with the turtles

Cayman Turtle Farm is a family friendly adventure that is sure to delight the young and young-at-heart.

Part education and conservation center, most of the turtles in the pond have been bred there since the farm was founded in 1968. The turtles even have their own beach on the edge of the pond so that the females can nest and lay their eggs.

 

turtle2turtleThe farm has expanded over the years to offer visitors a complete wildlife experience, with dashes of Caymanian culture thrown in to boot.

You can learn all about turtles, get up close and personal with a crocodile, sharks, a Rock Iguana, birds, traditional Caymanian buildings, indigenous plants and trees as well as swim and snorkel with marine life in a lagoon and sunbathe on a beach.

The majority of the turtles on the farm are green sea, so-called because of the color of their fat, but there are also some Kemp’s ridley, considered to be the most endangered turtle species in the world, and a loggerhead hybrid with powerful jaws that can crack a conch shell.

turtle6Green sea turtles grow up to a weight of more than 500 pounds. They were given the moniker “buffaloes of the sea” because they graze on sea grass beds in the manner of an underwater equivalent of the large prairie animals.

At Cayman Turtle Farm, the first encounter with these creatures is at the breeding pond. The turtles nest up to 10 times per season, with 50 to 150 clutches of eggs at a time, yet only 1 percent will make it to full adulthood in the wild.

The turtles are put into tanks and separated into different stages of development, ranging from nine to 18 months to more mature turtles aged from three to 11.

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Tickle a turtle

turtle4The touch tanks are a highlight. Visitors are allowed to pick up the yearling babies, presenting the perfect moment for a photograph.

Also at the farm is Smiley - a 10-foot, 260-pound crocodile - found on the beach, rescued and brought to live at the Turtle Farm. She’s in a wire pen so there’s no danger of her snapping at tourists.

Expect a “wow” moment when you come to the predator reef, which is like a giant fish tank, containing nurse sharks, jacks, tarpons and barracuda.

You can stand right next to the glass or swim up to the viewing windows to get nose-to-nose with these creatures.

Then there’s the aviary where birds of the Caribbean flit amongst the lush vegetation. Look out for Cayman’s national bird, the colorful Cayman parrot, and also Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird, the scarlet ibis.

On your way out, make sure to stop and see the agouti or “Cayman rabbit” which is related to a guinea pig.

turtle5Don’t forget to go into the education center and hatchery to learn more about the turtles and how they are hatched, as well as the annual turtle release program.

turtlebirdMake a day of it and wander round the nature trail, take a stroll down the replica “old-time” Cayman street or swim in the lagoon and relax on the sun-loungers. There’s a restaurant for snacks and lunch when you get hungry.

TURTLE TIPS

  • You can pick up a self-guided leaflet at the front desk but a tour guide makes the experience more personal. There is no extra charge; just ask the receptionist if a guide is available.
  • Take your beachwear for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling.
  • A free shuttle operates between the major resorts in the Seven Mile Beach area and the Turtle Farm.