BiologyPhotographyScienceScience & Nature

A Unique Way to See Sea Turtles

A shot of the turtle farm in Grand Cayman

About a year ago our family went on a Caribbean cruise, and one of the stops was Grand Cayman. At the time my oldest daughter, Zoë, was interested in a career in science but hadn’t yet settled on which field of scientific research to pursue. Once we visited the “Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd.“, her mind was made up and her love for marine biology bloomed.

The history of the turtle farm is quite interesting. It originally opened as Mariculture Ltd. and was established in 1961 as a commercial business that would breed sea turtles for purposes of domestication. When laws regarding sea turtles were later established, outlawing the selling of sea turtles (even farmed), Mariculture became unable to sustain the lives of the 100,000 turtles they had in their possession and went bankrupt.

Mariculture was bought by another company 1975 that then changed the name to Cayman Turtle Farm. The new organization tried to operate as a not-for-profit and research facility, but  it struggled because of the restrictions on the exportation of sea turtles. Eight years later, the organization reduced the number of sea turtles and slowed down operations with the intention of closing its doors for good.

The Cayman Islands Government bought the farm in 1983 and it has since been known as the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd. The purpose of the organization this time was to produce enough turtles to fulfill the needs of the locals and continue releasing turtles into the wild. The farm has become the largest land attraction on the island, so it also brings in a lot of tourism. The facility was moved further inland to better protect the turtles during hurricanes and to increase its size.

The turtles are in huge, low, open tanks that were easy to peek into.
Time to catch one!
You are actually allowed to grab up the turtles and hold them. I declined to, but our girls were all for it.
And at that moment, Zoë fell in love.
Turtles. Turtles. And more turtles.
Just watching the turtles interact and swim was extraordinary.
They sure were cute.
Who couldn’t love that face? Still, I didn’t want to touch it.
This guy…eww. Just walking around…
They let you wade in the tanks if you are so inclined. What grandmas do for their grandkids, I swear.

The park is beautiful and it was a unique experience that all my girls enjoyed (with the exception of my daughter Jude, not due to the park itself, but she had a tummy bug and threw-up during the trip). For a true “hands-on” experience, this is a wonderful little treat and even inspired a life-long love of sea turtles for Zoë. If you are ever in Grand Cayman, be sure to stop by.

Gigi Chickee

All photos are taken by me, Gigi Chickee, unless otherwise noted. Photography Correspondent here at Mad Art Lab. Wife to my gorgeous husband, Rob. Mother to my four girls. Proud Secular Homeschooler. Photographer when the occasion arises. Seamstress in training. Skeptic always. Follow me and my musings on Twitter: @gigichickee

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