Whether or not turtles actually can recognize people is something that is often disputed and also something that nobody really knows for sure. Some have suggested that turtles do not necessarily “recognize people” in the same way that we humans recognize other people, however like most animals they are able to acquire an understanding of who feeds them and some may even begin to warm up to allowing themselves to be touched.
However typically most turtles do not really like to be touched, especially on their shells and will hiss as a warning for their predators or pet owner to back off. It has been said that turtles lack the cognitive ability and emotional depth to have the understanding of recognition. Since they are wild animals, they are used to fending for themselves in the wild, but when they become domesticated they quickly learn that people are the new providers of their food and may appear to be excited when it is feeding time.
Many pet owners have often mistaken this type of behavior as affection, however most will quickly find out that once the turtle has been fed they will often prefer to be alone and act as such.