Sea Turtle Survival
| Instructional Objective |
Learners | Object of
Game | Game Materials |
Time Required | Set-Up |
| Rules | Design
Process | Diagrams |
The learners will be able to identify a variety of factors
affecting sea turtle survival, both positive and negative. The
learners will see that these factors are both human related and
natural, and as conditions change so do the chances for survival.
Also, the learners will become familiar with some aspects of sea
turtle natural history.
The game is designed for learners, ages 10 and up, who are
interested in sea turtles or marine science.
Maintain the largest surviving sea turtle population by overcoming
various obstacles throughout the natural life cycle and avoid
The game is for 2 to 4 players and will play for approximately
thirty minutes to an hour. Players can determine the length of the
game by deciding to either play for a certain amount of time or a
designated number of cycles around the board before they begin.
- Open the game board and place each of the shuffled stacks of
cards face down in the designated place on the board. The Question
cards should have the answer side face down.
- Each player selects a playing piece and places it in the Start
position or nesting area.
- Each player begins the game with 10 turtle tokens.
- One of the players can be in charge of the remaining turtle
tokens to help others collect and return tokens as needed.
- Have one player spin the Variable
Conditions Spinner to determine the conditions at the start of
the game. The four conditions are:
- Level of Human Interaction - red
- Level of Climate Interaction - blue
- Number of Predators - yellow
- Availability of Food - green
- Place the Variable Conditions Indicator Tokens on the game
board to show the current level (High or Low) of each of
the conditions as determined by the spinner.
- All players should discuss and determine when the game will
end. There are three options:
- Play for a specified amount of time i.e. 45
minutes, 1 hour
- Play until at least one player makes a specified number of
cylcles around the board
- Play until one player reaches a population of 50 turtle
- Roll the die to see who goes first. Highest roll goes
- On their turn, each player rolls the die and moves the number
of spaces shown on the die in a clockwise direction around the
board. (* If a 6 is rolled see Rule 3.)
If the player lands on a:
- Land Space - Take the card on the top of the
Land Card deck. Read the card to the group
and lose or collect turtle tokens as required. The Variable
Conditions Indicator determines the number of tokens. For
example, the card may read "Your nests have been attacked by
raccoons and many eggs have been eaten." The card will also
have a yellow colored dot for predators, reminding you to check
the position of the yellow token on the board. The card will
indicate the number of turtle tokens lost, three during High
levels or two during Low levels. Return the card to the bottom
of the stack.
- Sea Space - Take the card on the top of the
Sea Card deck. Read the card to the group
and lose or collect turtle tokens as required. Remember to
check the Variable Conditions Indicator to determine the number
of tokens as described above. Return the card to the bottom of
- Question Space - Take the card from the top of the
Question Card deck. Read the question
to the group. Pass the card to the player on your left. The
player on the left checks the answer against the answer
indicated on the back of the card and tells the player the
number of tokens earned. If the answer given is not exactly the
same as the one on the card, it is up to the entire group to
decide if the answer is acceptable enough to collect tokens.
Return the card to the bottom of the stack.
- Global Population Space - There are several spaces
on the board that affect all sea turtles. If a player lands on
one of these spaces, they read the description on the space to
the group. All players lose or collect turtle tokens as
- If a player rolls a 6 on their turn, they must
spin the Variable Conditions Spinner. This
changes the current conditions for all players. Arrange the
Variable Conditions Indicator Tokens on the board as determined by
the spinner. The player then moves their playing piece and
continues with their turn. The conditions remain the same until
another player rolls a 6.
- When a player has completed their turn, play continues as
above with players taking turns in a clockwise direction around
- A Turtle Tussle occurs if two players land on the same
space. When this occurs both players need to roll the die.
- If both players roll the same number, a mating
occurs and both players collect the same number of tokens as
the number rolled on the die.
- If the players roll different numbers, a competition
for food, mates, or nesting areas occurs and the player that
rolled the higher number collects the number of tokens that is
indicated by finding the difference between (subtracting) both
- When a player completes a life cycle by moving their turtle
around the board and passing the Start space, or nesting area,
their population increases in size. The quantity of the population
increase is determined by the size of the population. Use the
following chart to determine the number of turtle tokens to
Size of Population
Number of Tokens to Collect
0 - 4
5 - 9
10 - 14
15 - 19
20 - 24
- If a player loses all of their turtle tokens their sea turtle
population has gone extinct and they are out of the game.
- At the end of the predetermined length of time or number of
rotations around the board, the player with the largest sea turtle
population wins the game. Another option is to play until the
first player has a population of 50 turtle tokens, winning the
The game board is arranged in a circle to represent the cyclical
nature of the sea turtle life cycle. The number of Land spaces is
fewer than the number of Sea spaces to reflect that sea turtles spend
very little of their life on land. Actually, after the hatchlings
reach the sea it is only the females that return to the beaches and
then it is only to nest. Considering this, there are probably too
many Land spaces, but since many of the threats to sea turtles exist
on land I felt that the learners needed to play a significant portion
of the game on land.
I thought about trying to have some represtation of males and
females, hatchlings and sea turtle eggs. I also considered having
each player represent one of the eight species of sea turtles. This
seemed like it would add too much confusion and would not be worth it
in educational value. So the player moves their piece and collects
tokens representing the generic idea of sea turtles, not worrying
about only females going on land or matings occurring between
As the players move through the land and sea, the Land Cards and
Sea Cards are meant to represent the possible threats and benefits to
sea turtle populations. One of my early concerns was making sure that
the game is challenging, especially for older learners. I decided to
use the Question cards, which also allowed the inclusion of more
facts about sea turtle natural history and added some skill to the
game. Some of the threats and benefits that in reality would affect
all sea turtles were made to affect all players (the Global
Population spaces), with the idea that it would keep players
interested during someone else's turn. The Turtle Tussles, occuring
when players land on the same space was added to bring some
interactivity between the players and allowed the representation of
mating and competitions that occur in nature.
The initial game design had the threats and benefits to the entire
population (all players) on the spinner, and the board had Spin
spaces. While playing the game, it was decided that it would be more
interesting to add another dimension to the game. One of the game
testers suggested the concept of representing the conditions that
change and have an effect on sea turtles, such as climate, human
impact, predators, and availability of food. It was decided to use
the spinner to determine these conditions, so the things affecting
all players were moved to spaces on the board (Global Population
Spaces). Then playing the game and landing on a spin space meant that
nothing happened to that player. So the Spin spaces were eliminated,
and the idea of using a roll of 6 on the die was added.
**Note: The diagram of the Current Conditions table includes
representations of the Variable Conditions Indicator Tokens to
demonstrate one of the possible arrangements.
Front of Card
Back of Card
Alderton, David. Turtles and Tortoises of the World.
London: Blandford, 1988.
Burton, Maurice. Encyclopedia of Reptiles, Amphibians and Other
Cold-Blooded Animals. London: BPC Publishing, 1975.
Bustard, Robert. Sea Turtles: Their Natural History and
Conservation. London: Collins, 1972.
Carr, Archie. The Turtle: A Natural History of Sea Turtles.
London : Cassell and Co., Ltd., 1967.
Gibbons, Gail. Sea Turtles. New York: Holiday House, 1995.
National Marine Fisheries Service - Sea Turtle Page
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
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Last updated October 23, 1997