Tourism Australia post of woman and turtles at Ningaloo Reef Western Australia reprimands cops
An image of a woman floating in reef waters with sea turtles was quickly removed by Australia’s main tourism body after an online backlash.
It showed the woman in a black swimsuit floating with around 30 protected sea turtles at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia after it was posted online last week.
But the stunning photo has been deleted from Tourism Australia’s social media after being slammed by critics saying the ‘mating turtles’ should be left alone.
The post was deleted five days after being inundated with 700 comments, Yahoo News Australia said.
Wildlife advocates and photographers have called out Tourism Australia for encouraging travelers to approach vulnerable species like sea turtles.
The social media post showed the woman in the black swimsuit posing with around 30 protected sea turtles at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia and was uploaded by Tourism Australia last week.
Wildlife advocates and photographers have urged Tourism Australia not to encourage travelers to approach vulnerable species like sea turtles (pictured, a sea turtle at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia)
“Why any government tourism agency would post a photo like this is beyond me,” one commenter said.
“We trust the government to protect wildlife and then they post a picture like this.”
But the image has inspired others to visit the idyllic spot.
“Can we go together,” one commented, as they tagged a fellow traveler.
The bird’s eye view showed the woman lying on her back in shallow crystal blue water surrounded by turtles near a pristine sandy shore.
It was originally taken and posted last November by social media account Frame Chasers.
The photo was taken at the same time as the turtle mating season.
The Tourism Australia caption said the Frame Chasers were ‘lucky enough to witness a turtle party’ while visiting Exmouth.
“These majestic sea creatures can be seen in this part of @westernaustralia all year round, but a visit between November and March will allow you to witness hatching and nesting,” it read.
“We recommend booking a Guide Turtle Watching Experience.”
But some pointed out that the turtles were most likely gathering to mate in the photo and advised against encouraging tourists to get close to them at this time.
USC marine scientist and PhD candidate Caitlin Smith said there was a range of male and female turtles in the photo, suggesting they were breeding.
She said turtles can be very stressed at this time and advised swimmers not to approach turtles while they are mating.
‘Sea turtles are likely to be disturbed during mating season,’ said DBCA Exmouth Marine Program Coordinator Peter Barnes (pictured).
Although the reptiles didn’t look distressed in the photo, she was worried the image would lead to others trying to get a selfie with the endangered species.
But she praised Tourism Australia for recommending tourists use the guided tour options in her post.
The Western Australia Department of Biodiversity and Conservation’s Turtle Watcher Code of Conduct states that there are strict rules that protect turtles while they mate.
“Sea turtles are likely to be disturbed during mating season,” said Peter Barnes, DBCA marine program coordinator at Exmouth.
“Anyone who encounters this natural phenomenon in the water should move away and watch from a convenient distance so as not to disturb the animals.”
He added that there were signs at various stops along the Jurabi coast in the area where the photo was taken.
Wildlife biologist Ellie Sursara (pictured) said disturbing turtle nesting and breeding sites, even just for a photo, could discourage turtles from mating and laying eggs
Ms Sursara added that the photo pushes the boundaries of Western Australia’s code of conduct for turtle tourists and Tourism Australia’s commitment to responsible travel (pictured, a turtle at Ningaloo Reef)
Wildlife biologist Ellie Sursara said disturbing turtle nesting and breeding sites, even just for a photo, could discourage turtles from mating and laying eggs.
The avid photographer said it was important to maintain a safe distance from where wild animals are.
“Knowing the rules is what helps me to engage safely, responsibly and legally with wildlife,” she said.
She added that the photo pushes the boundaries of Western Australia’s code of conduct for turtle tourists and Tourism Australia’s commitment to responsible travel.
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest that Frame Chasers acted illegally or irresponsibly.
Frame Chasers and Tourism Australia have been contacted by Daily Mail Australia for comment.
Code of Conduct for Turtle Watchers in Western Australia
There are three important stages in the breeding process of sea turtles: mating, nesting and hatching.
Guided turtle tours are recommended for those wishing to observe nesting sea turtles.
Respect the recommended distance indicated in the code of conduct.
Dogs should be kept away from turtle nesting beaches.
Do not touch or disturb resting, sleeping or mating turtles.
Unnecessary contact with turtles is an offence.
Garbage can harm all marine life, including turtles.
The regulations prohibit vessels from dumping waste, including trash or sewage, into a marine park.
Source: Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions.
WHAT IS THE SHELL? FUN FACTS ABOUT SEA TURTLES:
- Six of the seven species of sea turtle inhabit Australian waters
- They are part of a group of reptiles that have been around for over 100 million years
- The largest and heaviest turtle on record weighed 914kg and was nearly 9ft long
- Turtles have major cultural significance to many indigenous cultures
- They maintain the health of seagrass beds and coral reefs – commercially benefit valuable species such as shrimp, lobster and tuna
- Turtles use the Earth’s magnetic field like a global GPS, calculating both their latitude and longitude to point in the right direction
Origin: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk