Education on tour
Before we start our turtle tour, it is most important that we educate and share facts and knowledge with our guests first!
We might seem like a fun crazy bunch of local boys, but in nature we as locals are about respecting what has been gifted to us, and finding ways to educate ourselves and those around us through mindful and health & safety practices when entering our waters and hanging out on our beaches.
HEADING INTO OUR PASSAGES
We advise that NO tourist swim in this passage alone without a safe operator or experienced guide. It is dangerous to go out alone without the proper knowledge of a local guide who understands and knows this passage well. The conditions of these passages can change very quickly and to its extremities.
There is a clear sign at the beginning of the passage that states the passage is very dangerous for swimming. Our guides are on the beach and their watch tower almost everyday and see the tourists who ignore the messages and signage. This can also potentially damage our access to this passage in the future.
We also highly recommend doing your research on tourism operators and choosing your experience and guides wisely as we do not condone operators that send their guests out by themselves. This is a very dangerous and irresponsible practice that does happen in our waters.
We have passages all around the island. Our beach in Vaimaanga the passage we take our guests in is called Avaavaroa Passage.
In the past people have drowned and disappeared in this passage when they've attempted to go alone so we take safety very seriously in this passage. So please be smart and avoid going in without number of experienced locals!
Touching turtles is a No-Go, especially on our tours.
This is something we must advise and educate our guests on before heading out on tour. Turtles are very sensitive in nature, and they also carry Salmonella bacteria, which in turn presents a risk to us becoming sick if we touch them.
Like them we also carry our own bacteria and body oils, which can effectively be transferred when touching the animal, risking the turtles life of illness and disease. This is a dangerous and unethical practice. The last thing we want is to make an unhealthy impact on our turtles living and decrease the numbers.
Green Turtles in our sister islands of Hawaii are federally protected by the law and it is illegal to touch, scare, harass, chase and overcrowd the Honu/Onu(turtle). This has become a growing problem in our islands and we want to make sure we are guiding the right practices and education.
We ask please for all to be mindful and not touch the turtles when entering our waters.
Walking on our coral
Coral are living animals. Walking or trampling on top of our coral here in the islands is a very obtrusive and unethical practice to the longevity and health of our coral. This disturbing practice can cause much harm, damage or kill the coral.
Corals feed on plankton including tiny crustaceans, mollusks, and larvae of reef animals. They use their tentacles or arms to sting and capture plankton that drifts by on currents. Coral reefs are important to conserve here in the Cook Islands for the preservation of the corals themselves and especially for the conservation of the marine organisms that depend on coral reefs to survive. Marine life is unlike others that you might find on land. They are bright and beautiful, and come in many sizes, shapes and forms, textures and serve different purposes to this planet. They are also very fragile and succumb to damage from human disruption through pollution, climate change, increased acidity and overfishing.
Choosing a tour operator who is aware of this damaging practice is also extremely important. Large groups of people on some reef and passage tours in Rarotonga, have been seen to be trampling across our coral in the lagoons next to the passage, and this is where education around ethical behaviour is key. Having this knowledge as a visitor will allow and enable our coral life to survive peacefully!
Please be mindful and choose a operator who supports NOT walking on our coral.
Sunscreen & our coral
Sunscreen can cause the seal on the masks to loosen its grip and it can run into your eyes. While we can understand a lot of our tourists and guests coming to the island need to protect their skin from sun damage, there are unfortunately certain sunscreens that are causing irreparable and permanent DNA damage to our coral life as well, especially when we have a large number of people swimming in our lagoons. Some advice to our visitors and guests to try refrain from wearing sunscreen. You can find real eco brands made from minerals and are biodegradable with ingredients to minimise gear damage and equally the impact on our lagoons. Factually these chemicals pose a threat to our marine life. Another option would be to wear a rash guard/shirt to cover the skin when going swimming. We can offer a local brand " "Jeani" sunscreen https://www.facebook.com/Jeaniaroa to our guests which is made from the island of Mauke. These products are hand made and sourced locally using natural resources like coconut and Moringa which are very healthy for both the skin and environment.
The ingredients you want to try and avoid will be listed as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate and additionally Benzophenone-1/-8, Octocrylene, Methylbenzylidene camphor, and 3-Benzylidene camphor.
Our beach set up
Our beach in Vaimaanga is open to anyone to use during the day even when not joining in on our tours. The beach is open to public access. However permission is needed to use the beach area we are set up on in the evenings for those who are wanting to use for BBQ's, birthdays etc. We have a watch tower/tree house, this is for our guides only, we have swings, two seating areas and plenty of shelter and car park that our boys have built and cleared themselves. A lot of work goes into our beach area.
We would appreciate anyone that does want to use it to please clean up and take your rubbish and plastics with you when you leave. We take great care of cleaning our beach area daily.
MALE GREEN TURTLES
One of the most rarest green turtles can be found in our waters here in Rarotonga but this can also be a once in a lifetime moment. We were able to capture this moment here in the image by our guide Johnny.
The green sea turtle offspring are born almost completely female, with males outnumbered by at least 116 to 1. If this feminisation trend continues, it will be detrimental to the future of the species. So, what’s going on?!
The sex of a sea turtle is determined by the temperature of sand incubating the eggs. Warmer temperatures, of 29.1 degrees Celsius and above produce females, and cooler temperatures produce males.
The rising temperatures as a result of global warming means more females are born, disrupting the gender ratio. It’s possible that one day the population of sea turtles could be completely female in the near future.
This is a great concern to the longevity for many marine turtle species. Without males, the species cannot reproduce, and the combination of this with other threats such as poaching, fishing bycatch and loss of habitat, means we are at risk of losing these majestic creatures forever.
As a whole we can minimise our impact to help our beautiful marine life by reducing plastics, debris, avoiding micro plastics and keeping our beaches clean.