Environmentalists Are The Enemy: Sea Turtle Edition

Put down your fat burger and swallow that carbonated sugar drink and hear me out for a second. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have environmentalists in the world but sometimes they take it to extremes. I experienced just this on my trip to French Guyana when trying to see the massive leather back turtles lay their eggs. I booked a tour at the Galibi Nature Reserve in Suriname where we were ironically taken to French Guyana to see the turtles.

sea turtles, leather back sea turtles, pictures of turtles, suriname pictures, turtles in french guyana

Dont touch the Sea Turtle!

It was 3am and it was pitch black outside. The captain of the super sized canoe boat had to use flash lights to ensure he wasn’t going to hit other boats as we were motoring along at a ferocious 5 miles an hour (8 kph). The tour operator told us to buy flash lights before we left so I willingly paid $1 for a flashlight and $20 for 2 sets of batteries. $20 for batteries people. When we arrived on the beach they told us that they follow Green Peace standards to see the turtles to ensure their safety since they are an endangered species. We had to hold our breathe and skip to save the sea turtles too.

They told us to be careful not to get in front of the turtles paths and also not to shine the lights in their eyes as they can get easily confused. I experienced first hand how Green Peace and other extreme environmentalists think they have the right to make decisions for whats best for everyone. It started when the only person that could have their flashlight on was the tour operator. Flashing a light into the sand or a random rock hurts sea turtles that are nearby. Don’t forget to hold your breathe! Everyone was taking pictures and below is what came out:

Wow! Look at that sea turtle!

These people are serious. Whats the point of even going to see the turtles if you aren’t even able to take a picture of them and remember them? I decided to go hang out on the beach since I got the brilliant idea of renting a car come back to beach to take pictures with flash and yelling loudly “In your face Greenpeace!” As I was hanging out on the beach one of the people from the tour came over and told me I couldn’t have my flashlight on because of the sea turtles. I wasn’t anywhere near the turtles as I was looking for rocks for my insanely nerdy rock collection from around the world. Even at 50 feet away (15 meters) I couldn’t even have my flash light on.

Sea turtles, pictures of sea turtles, endangered sea turtles

The Frenchy taking some blood

Then the best thing in the world happens, a French researcher came over and started to work with the sea turtles. Not only did he have a flashlight more powerful than anyone in the group, he dug out the sea turtle as he was laying his eggs to measure its width. All while he was walking back and forth in front of the turtle, I thought flash lights weren’t allowed? After he finished that he took a needle and took the turtles blood. That doesn’t bother the sea turtles? If someone was pinching me with a needle as I was having some babies rest assured I would have some words that that guy.

A large part of the group walked over to another sea turtle and I stayed with the researcher and asked if I could take pictures, WITH FLASH. He promptly replied, “I don’t care go ahead”. The person that would have the most expertise in what harms sea turtles didn’t care if I used flash, irony anyone?

There are other situations around the world where they have done this as well. Hunting whales around the world is frowned upon just like bull fights are frowned up on in Spain. The only two countries that partake in whale hunting is Japan and Iceland. Greenpeace, knowing whats best for everyone, illegally would take ships and place them in between the vessels and whales so they couldn’t be hunted, even if it was for scientific purposes. In the northwest United States they wanted to shut down the timber industry to save the owls. While I love owls and want to save animals as much as anyone what gives Greenpeace the right to take a away a man’s livelihood? The ENTIRE timber industry.

Boat in the amazon, Galibi nature reserve, Suriname pictures, traveling by boat in the guyanas,

The Glorified Boat

In the Imperial Valley in California Greenpeace was the main influence in turning off water access in order to save the save darter fish. Now the farmers in the valley are out of jobs but at least the fish is safe. At the end of the day instead of being able to feed my family I want a fish to live. Don’t laugh I’m being serious.

One thing that Greenpeace doesn’t understand is that if people aren’t able to go and see the turtles and have a good experience why would they want to save them? If they don’t have a picture to remember that unique experience why would they even want to donate money to help save them? There is a right and wrong way to do things; putting farms out of business, wanting to stop the entire timber indusry, and not allowing pictures with flash behind a turtle is not one of them.

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The "accidental" I didn't turn off my flash picture

I would like to inform Greenpeace that I did in fact rent a car and take pictures with flash. A LOT OF THEM. I was grunted at and I did take time in-between pictures to ensure the turtles wouldn’t get confused. In Costa Rica they bring flood lights on the tours and then shine the light behind the animal so people can take pictures. Silly Greenpeace, don’t they know that when there is a will there is a way?

What are your thoughts on this? Am I taking it too far or is Greenpeace in the right.


  1. green peace sucks.  what started as a good idea seems to have been taken over by a bunch of self righteous nut jobs.  they just perpetuate the idea in the general public that environmental groups won’t be happy until the world is covered in weeds and people live in caves.  is that a way to win people over?
    maybe the only group that’s worse is that terrorist group, peta. 

  2. Your cracking me up man but you make a point.  I’m not a tree huger or fan of Green Peace, as I think they do more to hurt then good.  Perfect example, is they use to try and board US Navy Subs (yeah f-ing dumb right?) that were nuclear bc they said it hurt the environment.  Mean while they “tried” to board the subs from their huge diesel chugging ship that spilt more oil into the ocean then any nuclear sub has done harm.  Ironic yes!

    I agree the whole “lets watch turtles leg eggs” thing is about as dumb as it gets and yeah maybe the lights is a bad thing but is it any different then in Africa where all the lions get spot lighted?  They say it confuses the turtles (because they use the moon reflection off the water to find the ocean back), come on, they have someone watching it the whole time.  If it gets so confused and tried to go up the beach and order a beer, well thats why you have that little French biologist there handy, to turn him around and get him back on AA.

    You just got on a shitty tour man, bottom line! @wanderingtradr:twitter

  3. Well there is a bit of regulations and rules but recently they have been wanting to go a bit overboard.. I mean you can’t shut down an entire timber industry to save the owls.. lets be realistic

  4. I agree with you Leslie to a certain extent, in Costa Rica they place a light behind the turtle so you can see the turtle and take pictures of them. The little ones I would be a lot more sensitive too but the big guys as long as you don’t put the flash in their eyes I think it would be okay. Very similar to the researcher that came by

  5. Greenpeace is a bunch of militarists who only have one way and that is their way. Why not move the owls to another location, that way they will be saved and the farmers will have their jobs. Way too logical for Greenpeace. The modern world, that we live, is expected to kow tow to the lowest denominator, in this case Greenpeace. What gives then the rights to perform as arrogantly as they do. They should foster a bit of public relations and try to get those of us who do care on board.

    1. Shaka thanks for the comments… honestly.. these people won’t learn until the lights don’t turn on anymore. Did you know that the new oil pipeline from Canada would completely cut all of our reliance on foreign oil? Instead of building it they decided only to build one part that we dont need… its not being built because of the environmentalists….

    2. The whole point is that you can’t move the owls, just as it would be absurd to move a marginalized people who were faced with conflicts from gentrification…

  6. I understand your point here, but the anthropocentric nature of your argument IS a bit shocking. We aren’t the only species on the planet that deserves to have the freedom to reproduce, migrate, feed, thrive, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I think Greenpeace goes about it in quite an extreme way, but the intentions are good.
    I’d also like to point out that once a species is placed on the endangered species list, their habitat is protected by law. Which means that you didnt have to be granted access to that beach at all… And in the northwest, where I’m from, the timber industry is still chugging along. Not at it’s former glory, but that’s mostly due to the fact that they didn’t replant trees until a few decades ago. It’s only the old-growth forest that’s protected under the Endangered Species Act. So not ALL foresters are out of jobs.
    So while I hear your frustration about not being able to preserve your memory, think about how your wife or future wife would feel if just anybody was able to come into her delivery room and do whatever they wanted. You are a visitor into their world, and the regulations are in place to ensure that they continue to exist on this planet. I’m just jealous that you were able to witness something so fantastic.

    1. Jess… I think your argument is flawed because the environmentalists are the ones that came in and started molesting the turtles while they were hatching their eggs; they reaches around, punched them with needles, took their blood, all we wanted to do was watch them and take pictures from behind so they would be unaffected.. they are hypocrites.

  7. You are dumb. You do not understand anything but the headlines of issues like these. The entire timber industry wasn’t trying to be shut down, there is naturally almost no water in the california desert hundreds of miles from where it was being pumped to sustain agriculture, c’mon- farming in the desert?? And although I’m glad that you took the time to ensure you weren’t disturbing the turtles, the flash photos don’t affect just the individuals that you were shooting but any on the beach and in the water that can see it. Once they start laying eggs, they generally don’t stop, however, at any point up untill the first egg drops, the nesting attempt can be abandoned.

  8. It sound like you do not fully understand the effects of light on sea turtles. There is an educational artical in National Geographic about this issue. Check it out: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0417_030417_tvlightpollution_2.html

    Newly hatched turtles need a dark night sky to orient themselves toward the sea, but artificial lights behind beaches lure them away.”Hatchlings are attracted to lights and crawl inland, or crawl aimlessly down the beach, sometimes until dawn, when terrestrial predators or birds get them,” said Michael Salmon, a biologist at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

    Coastal counties in Florida have passed ordinances that residents turn off beachfront lights during turtle nesting season, but they are not always enforced—and they don’t address the larger problem of sky glow near cities, says Salmon.

    1. Hey Ericka thanks for the note.. I do know the effects of light on sea turtles and it effects them if you take the picture and the light hits their eyes, not if you are taking pictures from behind them. I find these environmentalists to be ridiculous when they are molesting these animals, grabbing them and injecting them with needles, when they are trying to hatch their eggs. Walking around and taking a picture of a turtle as he walks past isn’t going to harm the turtle one bit if you aren’t shining the light directly into their eyes.

      The problem that I was specifically referring to are not the hatched turtles, I was talking about the older ones that come on shore to lay their eggs. Thanks for the comment Ericka

  9. Your disappointment at having to buy $20 batteries (too pricy, I agree) and pay attention and care to how you interact (or not) with these turtles borders on the obnoxiously entitled. The fact that you felt the need to rent a care, drive back and do what you damn well pleased while thumbing your nose at Greenpeace seems to have been a priority over just appreciating the fact that you were in this incredible place and being allowed to observe these beautiful creatures. As your memory of this experience dissolves into a rant on environmentalists in general, it becomes clear that you seem to have your own agenda. No respect for the gifts you are fortunate enough to behold, just give you what you think you are entitled too.

    I wouldn’t want to travel with you.

    1. Hi Lani, thanks for the comment but we couldn’t enjoy our time with the turtles because the people were going back and forth molesting and bothering the animals. In order to see the turtles you have to go during the right time and there may be times that you just can’t see them because they dont come out of the ocean. Its like the weather, sometimes you have great weather and other times you dont. I wrote this post the dday after I visited the turtles while I was in French Guyana so it isn’t a matter of remembering what happened

  10. I found this while looking for articles on why people need to touch wild animals and marine turtles in particular because I never understood that. I am a turtle biologist myself and contrary to what you think, the fact that your guide cared more about the turtles than about your own satisfaction is very good news to me. The guide was simply following the rules he was told. Yes, flshlights are a problem for nesting turtles and hatchlings. The fact that you used a flshlight and took pics with the flash obviously shows that you do not know the effect these lights have on turtles. You don’t know neither that when a turtle lays eggs than it will probably keep on laying eggs even if you are in front of it with your lights and cameras because the cost (from an energetic point of view) was too high for her. What you do not know instead is that the turtle could decide to cover up the nest quicker than usual thus leaving the eggs unprotected or more vulnerable to predators. The turtle could also decide not to lay all the eggs and finish the process of laying eggs in the water thus destroying them. What you also do not know is that turtls do not see red lights. Which means that instead of using white or yellow lights you can built yourself a red flashlight and take all the pictures you want. As for the researcher, obviously he was more interested in his work than in the protection of turtles. However collecting samples from wild animals (blood, skin, etc) is USUALLY (not always unfortunately) to learn more about them and better protect them. The problem is not that one person went out one night with his flashlight on. the problem is that if one person does that, then why others should follow the rules? Can you imagine if every one in your group had decided to rent a car and go there and take pictures with flash? I feel a bit sorry for people that are living an amazing experience like seeing leatherback turtles nesting and they feel the need of taking a picture to show their friends and family. Memories are not just pictuers.

    As for Greenpeace, I agree with you on the general idea because most of the biggest NGOs working for the “environment” have an “economic” agenda more than anything else. But you are wrong when you say that “One thing that Greenpeace doesn’t understand is that if people aren’t able to go and see the turtles and have a good experience why would they want to save them? If they don’t have a picture to remember that unique experience why would they even want to donate money to help save them?”. The truth is that you should want to protect nature (in general) even if you do not have a picture of it because of the way things are interconnected in nature and because of the fragile balance that we are breaking. Saving a fish or saving a wood is not just a matter of saving a fish or saving trees, it is a matter of protecting a full ecosystem and find a balance between human activity and nature.

    1. I always made sure to only take pictures with flash when they were walking back into the ocean or completely behind them to make sure that I didn’t interrupt the laying process. I honestly think that a man that is coming up molesting the animal injecting it with needles causes a lot more harm to what you mentioned above rather than a person like myself that was just watching and admiring them. I do disagree with your comment because if people dont care about the animals there will be no agenda to save the animals.. thanks for the comment Angie very good stuff for debate here

  11. Your anthropocentric argument holds no water as far as judging the value of Greenpeace, environmentalists etc. Organizations like that, while they do have their fair share of problems, are trying to shift the view away from seeing immediate human comfort as the ultimate goal and, like Angie said, show how we are part of something larger, a very complex and fragile ecosystem that we are putting more and more at risk everyday with wasteful, destructive, or biologically ignorant practices.

    Also, how about you learn to remember and enjoy something without having to take a photo?


  12. I am sorry, but this article disgusts me. You are so centered on your own inconveniences, that you can’t even appreciate the amazing event happening before you. I’m sorry that you need a photograph to appreciate the importance of an endangered species. I’m sorry that you feel like if tourists can’t accost an animal then that animal doesn’t deserve to be saved. There is a big difference between an educated researcher handling a turtle than a bunch of tourists in a tour group who’s only focus is to take pictures so they can brag back at home. If it had been just you and a researcher, maybe you could have been allowed to take pictures with flash, but you were in a group. Rules are different when you need to control a larger number of people. You can’t make exceptions for one person. Also, you have stated multiple times in your responses to other comments that you think jabbing a needle into the turtle is more offensive than your camera, and yet you used that man as an excuse to use your camera flash. You don’t even know if that researcher was following proper protocol. Whether Greenpeace overdoes their conservation efforts is neither here nor there. You are just annoyed at not having a decent photo to put on your blog. Stop complaining and enjoy the experience. Also, I don’t think it’s very nice of you to accuse your readers of superficiality or obesity before they even read your article.

  13. Iceland does not Hunt whales, maybe you meant the Faroe islands. Agree with Candace to an extent you seem more pissed off that you couldn’t get a photo and that you had to pay 20 bucks for some batteries than how the turtle was treated.

  14. I can hardly believe you said “One thing that Greenpeace doesn’t understand is that if people aren’t able to go and see the turtles and have a good experience why would they want to save them?” We want to save them from becoming extinct! Would you risk all endangered species only so you could take a photo? Seriously, I’m appalled.

    1. When I saw that gentlemen come and molest that animal and inject it with needles while it was laying eggs. I don’t think you would like someone that to do you while you were giving birth.

  15. I’m afraid this shows a lot of misunderstandings about how turtles breed and lay, and how they navigate. I was involved in Costa Rica turtle projects, most recently returning last summer to see the Jaco developments.

    Turtles navigate using the moon. An increase in light pollution along coast lines had made it increasingly difficult for them to get their barings, and we see a reduction of turtles at light polluted breeding sites. Torch light as they come up the beach can be disruptive enough that they don’t lay at all, and as they return to the ocean it can leave them heading away from the ocean, sometimes fatally.

    During laying, turtles seem much less phased by anything at all. They can be touched and have their eggs collected, without it disrupting them (as the researcher you met was demonstrating). That’s why they’re so vulnerable to poachers, and why we can let people close to a laying turtle (Though out of respect for an animal at a very vulnerable moment, it’s kinder not to be flashing lights in her face).

    on costa rica, no project would ever flood light a beach, I’ve no idea where that info is from. Many laying beaches are now off limits to visitors at all and heavily protected/patrolled against armed poachers. Warden’s use red light torches to avoid disruption, and on Jaco beach, the local police are called when a turtle is sighted, and trained to collect their eggs before poachers can.

    On that beach last summer a small group of us were watching a female Olive lay. People arrived, excited, but sadly they used flash photography as she was trying to return to the ocean, then left. Confused, the turtle headed inland, and tangled herself in a football goal net. We had to extract her, and help her, exhausted, in the right direction. If we hadn’t had been there, they would have accidentally killed her.

    Seeing turtles in the wild remains one of my most enduring and treasured memories. I didn’t need a photograph to recall it.

  16. Unfortunately, there are some people who consider the world their own personal playground. They may be well meaning, but quite often they already “have theirs,” and are very jealous of protecting others from having meaningful experiences they consider their personal domain.

  17. dont be sillly, these animals are not there to satisfy your tourist endeavour, it is there for ecological balance and their own survival because they are living being.

  18. I guess any blanket statement about environmentalists is kinda risky since it often hardens the views of those without an open mind on the issue. As to snail darters, owls and sea turtles, it depends on what we know from a science perspective at the time. Wiping out any species can moderately to drastically change the future environment. We should save as many species as “possible” shouldn’t we? Ruining a whole industry is one thing, but even there, if we have alternatives, moving to them can be beneficial to all in the long run. It also seems like you may be against any change that the general public wants to continue to pursue. That’s also a problematic stance because it may be hurting others in the long run as well. Of course, if flashlights are not a hurting the sea turtle, and it’s merely a scam to scare you off, then that’s ridiculous, and will hurt their cause as well. I also believe Green Peace can go “overboard”, like the people torching animal testing labs. That said, change in the public psyche is very difficult, and shouting from the rooftops may not be very effective. It’s like MLK, if his marches, and time in jail, as well as those who marched with him, and who did their own civil disobedience, did not result in change, more radical steps would have been required. It required a civil war to end slavery, and WWII to stop Hitler. Of course, each of those could have been dealt with earlier to avoid war, but they weren’t. Violence to end environmental degradation is for the most part unwarranted now, but if global warming causes 1/4 of the problems it is predicted to if “things” don’t improve, the violence any people cause will be infinitesimal compared to what the environment will put us through. Even you traveling around the world, as well as millions of others, is probably contributing to global warming. Would you be willing to stop it if they proved it was bad? How much proof, rising sea waters of 2 feet, 12 feet, 22 feet? Some people disbelieve it is happening, is that enough to not do something? These are huge questions, and you are worried about taking pictures of turtles. Your upsettedness is as unwarranted as their potentially bogus flash/flashlight rule. Everyone is culpable in some way. But many will never take responsibility, and live off the future of many others. We can take sides or we can do something to better insure there is a future. Even if global warming is a hoax, we still can avoid being the over consuming, trampling over, wasting more of everything, rather-not-think-or-care-about-it humans.

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