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lucywestie

How good or bad is the Turtle Farm?

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So I have been doing some research and from looking at Tripadvisor there are a reasonable amount of recent negative reviews regarding the turtle farm. Some reports state that the animals are kept in very poor and crowded conditions and that the staff are no help whatsoever.

 

Others report that its all sunshine, smiles and dancing unicorns.

 

So just wondering what people on this forum think. Will only be my wife and I (50's) so no kids etc.

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When we were there they offered us turtle soup at the end of the tour. I was appalled. This was 25 years ago. Hope they’re not still doing that. Never wanted to go back.

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It's a turtle FARM...they RAISE turtles for food. That's the whole point of the thing. Yes...you can see baby turtles and learn about turtles, but it's a food source business. Just so you know.

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We were there a few years ago when our son was 7. He is ten now and we will be returning again in December because he really wants to visit again. He loved the aviary and the turtle wading pools where you can pick up small turtles. He also liked seeing the giant turtles. Yes, they were a little cramped in their enclosures. Personally I didn’t feel like it was much different or worse than a typical zoo. Clearly, this is a polarizing topic among some who have stronger feelings than me but I liked the visit and I think it’s a cool experience for kids.

 

 

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It's a turtle FARM...they RAISE turtles for food. That's the whole point of the thing. Yes...you can see baby turtles and learn about turtles, but it's a food source business. Just so you know.

 

True above ... best to know before you go. ;)

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Lucy it’s between your two descriptions and we can’t really tell you if you’d find it worthwhile or not as everyone is different. And the time of day makes a difference as well. We (two adult couples) visited the farm while staying on the island so we had the luxury of driving and being able to go somewhere else as we wanted. The girls enjoyed holding smaller turtles and the staff was eager to answer any questions and provide info. We spent less than an hour looking at the turtles and the birds and spent another hour at the pool there.

We visited Hell as well, and again can’t recommend or not recommend that but it’s also something to see once. And the dolphin discovery is across the street from the farm and we just walked in and watched others interacting with them.

I agree with nlooser that the farm is a cool experience for kids, and maybe for the older “kids” as well!

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Turtles are raised for food in the Caymans, however they do release a certain percentage of them every year. I don't remember the amount, but think it is something like 25%. Although I am against eating them, I do understand their philosophy about conservation.

When we were there 2 yrs ago, we didn't think the conditions were bad. The menu at the restaurant has zero turtle items, I did check it. No, we were not given any turtle soup. I am sure the tourists protests had them change this many years ago.

 

robin

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We enjoyed our day at the farm. The nature trail is nice walk also. The best part is the fabulous pool and it virtually empty. We had a great day relaxing at the pool.

 

Renee

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I was not impressed. It's right there on the main road, the turtles are in these big cement pools that look like cement kiddy pools. They talk about ecology. They talk about releasing turtles into the ocean for sustainability but they also talk plenty about raising these specific turtles for food. There was no sugar coating. I was ready to leave before it was over.

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We loved snorkeling with the turtles in Humongous lagoon! We have been twice in last few years. Great pool and very nice farm. Clean and you will see iguanas everywhere!

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We loved the turtle farm. We went 15 years ago (before kid) and then recently went back with our kid and her cousins. People complain because it is not like it is "at home." If you want stuff like at home. Stay there and don't travel.

You get to see the turtles, touch, and pick them up. Yes. They farm them. Yes they release some too. No one forced any one to touch or taste anything.

We went to a vendor holding a sign when we got off the tender. $20/ per person. He took us around the island to see Hell, 7mile beach, tortuga rum store, and dolphins/turtle. Some in our van went to dolphins and we did turtle. The admission was not included but we got a couple bucks off because we were there as a "tour" ie our driver.

 

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from history page on their web site

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Cayman Turtle Centre was established in 1968 as Mariculture Ltd. by a group of investors from the United States and Great Britain as a facility to raise the green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, for commercial purposes. The intention was to supply the market with a source of product that did not deplete the wild populations further. By releasing turtles and facilitating research, any harm created by removing turtles and eggs from the wild would be mitigated.

 

After much work was put into pioneering the requirements of domesticating this wild animal, regulations designed to protect the sea turtle prevented the sale of even the Centred turtle product in the U. S. and many other countries. With close to 100,000 turtles to feed and care for and unable to sell its products to continue a cash flow, Mariculture Ltd. consequently went bankrupt in 1975. Mariculture Ltd. was bought by a group from Germany and renamed Cayman Turtle Centre Ltd.

 

The new owners intended to operate the centre more as a non profit organization, funnelling any profits from the sale of products back into sea turtle conservation and protection projects, using the site as an international sea turtle research facility. However, export restrictions continued and sufficient revenue could not be generated to maintain the approximately 100,000 turtles on hand. After 8 years the new company gave up. The number of turtles was reduced and operating costs brought to the minimum with the intention of closing.

 

The Cayman Islands Government then purchased this mini centre in 1983 and has since operated it as a private company, Cayman Turtle Centre (1983) Ltd. The goal of this new company is to produce enough turtles to supply the needs of the local market and continue releasing turtles. The centre has also become the largest land based attraction on the island.

 

On 4th November 2001 the Centre was hit by the waves generated by Hurricane Michelle churning 90 miles away off to the South West of Grand Cayman. Although there was little wind, the waves inundated most of the facility near the sea, washing 600 lbs turtles out of their tanks as easily as it washed the 6 ounces hatchlings. Turtles were washing everywhere. People came from all around the Island as the news of the disaster spread, to help in the rescue. Many turtles were saved and many escaped unharmed and the huge yellow tagged adults from the breeding pond could be seen around the Island for months afterwards.

 

This was a severe setback as 75% of the breeders were lost. The turtle release program and the meat supply was reduced to build up the population again. A new breeding pond, further inland, was completed by the end of 2002 and the remaining adults and selected future breeders were moved to their new home in early 2003. They reproduced from that season on but not at levels needed to sustain the Centre at the past levels of meat supply and release.

 

Hurricane Michelle may have been the cloud's silver lining in that it was the catalyst to move the whole turtle operation further from the sea. While this was being planned, the idea of an expanded facility to include a nature park was conceived and so was born Boatswain's Beach. This 23 acre park features a reef lagoon in which guests can snorkel, a predator tank, a free flight aviary, a woodland nature trail and a zero entry fresh water rock pool, complete with waterfall provide guests with hours of entertainment.

 

On September 11th 2004 we were hit by the worst hurricane in the recorded history of the Island, Hurricane Ivan and what little of the facility near the sea that had survived Michelle was just about eliminated. No turtles were lost this however time as there was ample warning of the storm's approach and the turtles near the sea were all moved to safer areas.

REPRODUCTION

 

All wild turtles and eggs were obtained legally through official programs. Eggs and adult turtles were purchased from local legal collectors and fishermen and yearling turtles were returned for release. The last turtles for the breeding herd were obtained in 1975 and the last eggs collected in 1976.

The first nesting occurred in 1973 by adults obtained from the wild. In 1975, the first turtles raised from eggs obtained from the wild reproduced. The first second generation captive turtles were hatched in 1989.

 

Before Hurricane Michelle, the breeding herd of 355 green turtles consisted of 147 "parental" stock obtained as adults from the wild and turtles raised from eggs obtained from the wild. The remaining 208 adults were first generation (F1) turtles. These were kept in a 1,000,000 gallon pond with a beach for nesting.

 

The 90 breeders that were left after Hurricane Michelle were kept in holding tanks during 2002 and consequently there were no nesting that year. These along with some young turtles selected from stock, christened the new Breeding Pond in early 2003 and produced 900 hatchlings that season. Nesting continued at this lower level during the next 4 years.

 

Efforts are continuing to remove turtles which were put into the breeding pond at the approach of Hurricane Ivan. The goal is to establish a heard of approximately 400 females and 100 males from which the best breeders can be selected. As of January 2011 there are approximately 290 female turtles and 72 male turtles in the Breeding Pond and approximately 5000 turtles in total at the Centre.

***********************

You can find turtle on the menu in some places on Cayman today ...

 

this from a place popular with the cruise crowd but I'll not name:







Turtle Burger $16.95


Farm raised green sea turtle flash fried & served with jerk mayo.

There's only one place I know of that can provide the meat ......

************************************

The FAQ page of the place answers this question:

AT WHAT AGE DOES THE CENTRE HARVEST THE TURTLES FOR MEAT?

 

Today the place is centered around Botswain's Beach

Sitemap.jpg

... a water park good for the young crowd with some turtle interaction available as well. The 'farm' portion is not 'in your face' but IS THERE.



I'm making no judgement calls .... I've eaten turtle in Cayman and it was GOOD .... enjoyed Turtle Cordon Blu for dinner one US Thanksgiving Day and it was wonderful.



One word of warning and not sure how much it applies today as I've not been for years but in the past there were a number of items in the gift shop made from sea turtle. Combs from shell, cosmetics from ..... All of these items are illegal for import to the US .... those same laws that squashed the original 'turtle farm' concept are still on the books as far as I know.

 

Closing: my parents first visited Cayman in 1970 and came home with stories of the turtle farm they visited ....

 

 

p.s. there are two admission tickets available

 

 

one is just the 'turtle farm' , the other the adds the 'water park' and there are special 'experiences' as well (aren't there always!)

 

 

https://www.turtle.ky/

Edited by Capt_BJ

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We loved the turtle farm. We went 15 years ago (before kid) and then recently went back with our kid and her cousins. People complain because it is not like it is "at home." If you want stuff like at home. Stay there and don't travel.

You get to see the turtles, touch, and pick them up. Yes. They farm them. Yes they release some too. No one forced any one to touch or taste anything.

We went to a vendor holding a sign when we got off the tender. $20/ per person. He took us around the island to see Hell, 7mile beach, tortuga rum store, and dolphins/turtle. Some in our van went to dolphins and we did turtle. The admission was not included but we got a couple bucks off because we were there as a "tour" ie our driver.

 

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It is a farm . Farms grow either crops or animals for consumption. Unless you are a vegan, you shouldn't be upset over the turtle farm.

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Should I do it outside of a cruise ship tour? We are with Carnival and I wanted some info on how to get there on our own.

 

Any ideas? Thanks.

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Should I do it outside of a cruise ship tour? We are with Carnival and I wanted some info on how to get there on our own.

 

Any ideas? Thanks.

See my post #12 above. Grand Cayman is so doable on your own. You can even just take their public "bus" to it. We usually do cruise ship excursions for places we have never been but on Grand Cauman we always do DIY.

 

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Should I do it outside of a cruise ship tour? We are with Carnival and I wanted some info on how to get there on our own.

 

Any ideas? Thanks.

Ask when you get on land where to meet public transit. $2.50 per person each way. Stay as long as you want. Be sure to cross the road to see the dolphins after you are done with Turtles.

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Carnival has excursions with or without lunch? Any opinions thanks

 

If you do ship excursion, you may only get an hour or so instead of staying for as long as you'd want. We always start heading back about 2 hours before time for ship to sail in case of traffic problems.

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Has anyone done the $45 package? Wondering if it’s worth for a family of 5.

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Ask when you get on land where to meet public transit. $2.50 per person each way. Stay as long as you want. Be sure to cross the road to see the dolphins after you are done with Turtles.

 

 

Do it yourself is easy and saves you quite a bit. We took the bus and had no issues finding where to catch the bus or get a return bus. We thought the Turtle Farm was worth seeing at least once. We went across the street to see the dolphins at no charge since we didn’t do a package to swim with them. They even have a bar with frozen drinks.

 

 

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Dreadful , allowing tourists to handle the poor turtles with no supervision , exploiting wildlife for money , we went a few years ago with our young daughters and were appalled , wont be going again

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