Christmas Island National Park

Christmas Island is a prime turtle watching location, with two endangered species of sea turtle calling it home.

You can see both green turtles and hawksbill turtles in the waters around the island throughout the year.

Green turtles also nest on Dolly and Greta beaches, and new hatchlings can often be seen.

Nesting occurs all year round on Christmas Island (unlike in mainland areas, where it is usually limited to October and November).

Code of conduct for watching nesting turtles

Turtle eggs, Christmas Island National Park Turtle laying eggs

Turtles are a protected species, and proper conduct must be observed around these beautiful creatures.

Please follow these rules when you watch nesting turtles:

  1. When looking for turtles, walk along the beach near the water just below the high tide mark. This allows the tide to wash your footprints away.

  2. Avoid excess noise and sudden movement at all times.

  3. Do not use powerful torches – your light should be no more than three watts and protected with a red filter (a couple of layers of red cellophane will do). Never shine lights directly on turtles.

  4. When you encounter a turtle, stop and stay at least 15 m away. Position yourself behind the turtle and stay low by sitting, crouching or lying on the sand. You may crawl up behind a nesting turtle on your stomach, but do not approach any closer than 15 m.

  5. Be patient. The nesting process can take up to 40 minutes as the turtle may abandon the nest and dig another one for a variety of reasons.

  6. Wait until a turtle has started laying her eggs before moving any closer. She will be quite still when laying eggs – if sand is spraying or she is using her front flippers, she is not yet laying. It may take a mother 10–20 minutes to lay her eggs. A maximum of three people at once may move closer to a turtle once she is laying, staying at least 2 m away at all times.

  7. Give the turtle enough space to camouflage the nest, which may take 20–40 minutes. Remain at least 2 m away while she is doing this.

  8. Let the turtle return to the ocean without interruption. Stay at least 2 m away at all times, and don’t get between the turtle and the ocean. It may take her 5–10 minutes to reach the ocean.

Code of conduct for watching hatchlings

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Christmas Island National Park – Green sea turtle hatchling

  1. Stand back from the nest to avoid compacting the sand.

  2. Do not use any lights – they will disorient the hatchlings.

  3. Do not get between the hatchlings and the ocean.

  4. Let hatchlings make their own way down the beach. Hatchlings can get stuck in footprints, so stand to the side of their path rather than walking across it.