Last Updated on August 10, 2023
Located on the south coast of Fuerteventura is the Morro Jable Turtle Nursery. Also known by its Spanish name: Centro de Recuperación y Conservación de Tortugas Marinas de Fuerteventura (Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Center). Find out how you can visit the centre, the aim of the turtle nursery and what you can expect from a visit!
Turtle Nursery Morro Jable
🗺Puerto del Morro Jable, Morro Jable, Fuerteventura, Spain
📅Tuesdays and Thursdays (except holidays)
🕖10am – 1pm
*2023 Update* I have since been made aware that the Morro Jable Turtle Centre are now operating on a pre-booked in advance ticketing system ONLY. Tickets are still free and you can reserve up to a week in advance. You can find open reservation slots here.
The Morro Jable Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Center is located in the Port of Morro Jable. It’s about a 1km or 15 minute walk from Playa Morro Jable (mostly uphill in both directions!). The centre is open Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 1pm.
It’s completely free to visit but due to its size, there’s a maximum visit time of 20 minutes. Do not be put off by this, it can easily be seen within this time frame. On the day I visited there was a short wait to get in, but it operated on a one out, one in basis.
The area open to the pubic is quite small and has a one way system around it. There are 2 large tanks that have raised viewing platforms so visitors are able to have a better view of the current inhabitants! These tanks had 2 turtles in each. The centre has more tanks of various sizes, but they are away from the public viewing areas.
Visitors are asked to use quiet voices, so keep this in mind if visiting with children. Children are allowed when accompanied by an adult. Photography is also allowed, however please ensure that flashes are turned off (no underwater photography permitted).
What is the Morro Jable Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Center?
Out of 8 sea turtle species, 4 can be found in the waters around the Canary Islands. The most common species being the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles.
The Morro Jable turtle nursery has 2 main goals:
- Sea turtle recovery
- Conservation by reintroducing an endangered species back to the island
When I was researching the turtle nursery I found multiple reviews from people saying that it’s cruel as the turtles are kept in small tanks. The turtle nursery is NOT a zoo. Yes there is an element of education but that’s not the aim or goal of the centre. The tanks are scientifically designed to help rehabilitate turtles and help them reach maturity.
If you are interested in this aspect of sea turtle rehabilitation centres, you can check out this post: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release: Visiting The Turtle Hospital, Marathon FL. In this post I go into more detail about the rehabilitation process of sea turtles after I visited ‘The Turtle Hospital‘ in Marathon in the Florida Keys, USA. The Turtle Hospital was the first of its kind in the world.
Sea Turtle Recovery
The first aim of the Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Center in Fuerteventura is to help with the recovery of sick and injured sea turtles. Sea turtles face many challenges in the wild, from fishing lines and hooks, swallowing plastic bags that look like jelly fish and boat strikes.
The centre rescues sick and injured turtles found around the coast and then nurses them back to health, before releasing them back into the wild. This is one of the reasons for tanks being small. Imagine breaking your leg and then being chucked into the deep end of a swimming pool. Recovery can sometimes be a slow process, sometimes you need to start small/shallow!
The second goal is the conservation of an endangered species. Fuerteventura is part of a wider project with the aim of reintroducing Loggerhead sea turtles back to the island. It’s working alongside the islands of Cape Verde, who are providing the project in Fuerteventura with donor turtle eggs.
From here, the turtle nursery in Morro Jable then look after the new hatchlings. They care for them until they reach a level of maturity and strength that will give them the best chance of survival when released back into the wild. For example, birds and crabs prey on baby sea turtles. The bigger they are, the more chance they have of avoiding these threats. Many baby sea turtles struggle to reach the age of 1 in the wild.
Once they are ready to be released, they are taken to a beach 22km from Morro Jable. Sea turtles are pretty special in that they have an internal homing beacon on their ‘first’ beach. The females will return to the same beach to lay its eggs throughout its life. The hope is that eventually the species will be stable enough to continue returning to the same beach and laying their eggs naturally. This is the long term goal of a successful reintroduction to Fuerteventura.