Tourism threatens turtle population

Tourists jetting off in search of unspoilt beaches may be unwittingly playing a part in the demise of the turtle. The World Society for the Protection of Animals claims the turtles' habitats on tropical beaches are being destroyed by coastal development.

The 10,000-to-one odds of hatchlings surviving into adulthood are being lengthened by the tourists' invasion of important nesting sites that are often situated on the beaches of the Mediterranean and popular long- haul destinations, such as the Caribbean. Other threats posed by man include illegal egg poaching and hunting of turtles.

WSPA is calling on the tourist industry to operate turtle-friendly holidays and has sent copies of its Turtle Alert report to several thousand tour operators worldwide, with a recommendation that they follow the Code by taking measures such as ensuring new hotel complexes are set back from the shoreline, using turtle-friendly lighting, avoiding bathing the beach in artificial light, and sectioning off areas of beaches used most often by turtles, keeping them clear and closed at night during peak nesting seasons.

Jonathan Peacre, WSPA campaigns manager, said: "WSPA is asking tour operators to look hard at the damage that is being done and implement changes to save these unique creatures that have lived on earth for over 100 million years."