Cayman Turtle Center

Grand Cayman

This is essentially a sea-turtle petting zoo. There are lots of turtles swimming in tanks, and guests are invited to handle the young ones (who are clearly distressed by the experience). If you pay for the 'adventure tour' you get access to an enclosed lagoon for swimming with the turtles, which has a few additional attractions. It's not much of a 'wildlife encounter,' as it's touted to be: you're better off snorkeling with wild sea turtles at Spotts Beach.

The center is better known as the Turtle Farm because most of its residents are eventually sold for meat. Considering the integral role of sea turtles in Caymanian history, culture and cuisine, there is obvious benefit to breeding turtles to meet the demand for the local delicacy and to reduce poaching of the endangered species.

The Turtle Center also tags and releases hatchlings and yearlings, with some evidence to suggest that the turtles can adapt and survive in the wild. The release program is highly publicized and celebrated, and the center says that it released 1300 turtles in 2018.

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