We are extremely lucky in the Caribbean to be able to see so many turtles. In the Virgin Islands they are mostly Green Turtles or Hawksbill Turtles. As you sail further south you will come across the much larger Leatherback Turtles.
The golden rule if you see a turtle whilst snorkeling is to keep your distance, make no quick movements and observe. If you do this you should be able to watch them graze on the turtle grass, and then swim up to the surface for air.
Both Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles have a hooked bill, so it is difficult to tell them apart. The way to identify them is to count the number of scales on their heads. A Green Turtle has two scales between the eyes, whereas a Hawksbill Turtle has four scales. The Hawksbill is smaller in size reaching an average of 30 – 100 pounds when fully grown, and their shell scutes (shell plates) overlap. A Green Turtle averages 100 – 200 pounds and their scutes lie flush on the top shell, also known as the carapace. Green Turtles are named after the colour of their body fat, not because they are green!
Leatherback Turtles have a thick oil-suffused skin that has seven prominent ridges, which run the length of the tapered, leathery looking carapace. This acts as a good insulator, enabling Leatherbacks to venture into colder waters. Leatherbacks average 700 – 1,600 pounds in weight.
You can enjoy watching these beautiful and graceful sea creatures during your luxury yacht charter aboard SY Pacific Wave. We’ll take you to all the best snorkeling sites around the Virgin Islands and other Caribbean destinations to ensure that you can swim with the turtles.