Because sea turtles have lungs and must swim to the surface to breathe air, they are at risk of being hit by boats and propellers as they swim at the surface of the water.

Practices to Prevent Collisions

  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare so that you can better see any turtles in the water
  • Have a designated wildlife spotter to look for sea turtles and other animals
  • Stay in deep water whenever possible
  • Avoid boating over seagrass beds and shallow waters
  • Follow all slow-speed and no-wake zones
  • Give sea turtles space by keeping your boat at least 50 yards (~150 feet) away
  • Do not follow, pursue, or entrap sea turtles
  • Avoid sudden changes in speed and/or direction
  • Ease off the throttle until you reach deeper water

If You Find Yourself Less Than 50 Yards From a Sea Turtle

  • Use no-wake speed and put the engine in neutral
  • Move away slowly and DO NOT expect sea turtles to swim out of the way
  • Ensure the turtle is safely away from your boat before engaging the propeller

If You Accidentally Collide With a Sea Turtle

  • Call the Sea Turtle Hotline for help at 1-866-TURTLE-5 or 1-866-887-8535
  • Provide your contact information and location as well as the turtle’s size and condition
  • Follow the instructions provided by the hotline


Boat threats to marine life
Safe boating
How you can help protect marine life from boat strikes