3 thoughts on “Green turtle conservation in Madagascar works

  1. FLIRTING WITH OMAN’S ANCIENT WILDLIFE –

    VIEWING THE SEA TURTLES OF RA’S AL HADD:

    Every year around June, a female green turtle braves the high tide to come ashore at Ra’s Al Hadd, a protruding peninsular located at Oman’s most easterly point, just 150 kilometres southeast of the capital, Muscat. Upon reaching the inlet’s sandy beach – the very place where she was born – she ambles to a quiet spot where she will remain throughout the night, burrowing and digging in the sand before laying up to 100 eggs.

    This is not her first nesting season; for the past 36 years she has returned to Ra’s Al Hadd, joining 20,000 local and migrating turtles from the Arabian Gulf, East African Coast and Red Sea in a four year cycle of breeding and nesting.

    Every evening from June to September, visitors can view five different species of turtles – green, olive ridley, leatherbacks, hawksbills and loggerheads – as they clamour for prime beachfront along the unspoiled shoreline of Ra’s Al Hadd’s Turtle Reserve.

    “To watch a silhouette of a turtle emerge from the sea under a moonlit sky, see her dig decoy holes in the sand with her flippers, lay up to a hundred eggs – each the size of a ping-pong ball – before she struggles back to sea in an exhausted state hours later is an amazing sight to behold,” says Mona Tannous, Director of Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism.

    Unfortunately, few hatchlings survive their first and most important journey to the sea. Considered tasty morsels by seagulls and crabs on the beach, many young turtles equally become fodder for marine predators before they reach the safety of the Gulf’s warm currents. Yet the evolution cycle of Oman’s sea turtles is wondrous to watch.

    “Though June and July are the best times to view the turtles coming to shore, from August through to September, visitors can view both the mothers laying their eggs and the hatchlings emerging from their shells. Seldom do you witness such a momentous cycle – one that has been playing out on Oman’s beaches from prehistoric times,” adds Ms Tannous.

    PROTECTED SPECIES:
    Once considered an endangered species the Sultanate has taken on the protective role in the conservation of the turtles, whose ancestors have inhabited the Omani waters for more than 200 million years.

    In 1977, the Sultanate of Oman – in partnership with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) and WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) – embarked on a series of surveys, which involved tagging and tracking 23,000 turtles. Over an 11-year period, the surveys confirmed that the turtles nesting in Oman not only moved great distances over the four year mating cycle, but also returned to the same nesting location each season.

    Today, over 275 beaches along the Omani coastline – from Musandam in the north to Dhofar in the south -now shelter the turtles during the summer breeding season and tourism is strictly monitored through the issuing of permits for OR1 (AUD $3.00). Wardens also escort visitors to the beach at 9.30 in the evening, where they watch the turtles come ashore.

    FAST FACTS:

    * Ra’s Al Hadd and Ras al Junayz, located in the Sharqiya region – have been the primary nesting grounds for Oman’s sea turtles for millions of years.
    * Five of seven recognised species of sea turtles nest on the coastline of Oman.
    * The green turtle gets its name from the colour of its body; a hue caused by the green algae it feeds on.
    * Females swim thousands of kilometres with potential male suitors, always returning to the beach where they were born.
    * Female turtles nest every four years, with the eggs taking two months to hatch.
    * The female turtle will repeat her nesting cycle over eight times during the nesting season, laying some 800-1000 eggs throughout the summer.
    * The turtle’s gender is determined by temperature of the sand where the eggs are laid.
    * After mating, the female turtle comes ashore to lay her eggs in the sand. To help protect her nest from predators, she digs several decoy holes with her flippers before selecting her final nesting ground. After laying approximately 100 eggs, she uses her last ounce of strength to cover the nest with the sand – a process that takes up to four hours. She then struggles back to the shallow water where she will remain without food for up to two weeks as she maintains her guard.
    * After the hatchlings break through their shells, the great race to the ocean often ends in misery. Approximately 20 per cent of the hatchlings only make it to the water, with no more than half of those surviving once in the water.

    RULES OF ENGAGEMENT:

    Visitors are required to secure a permit (either from the Director General of Nature Reserves, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment or the Directorate General of Regional Municipalities and Environment, A’Sharqiya region) before they visit Ra’s Al Hadd’s Turtle Reserve. There are also strict guidelines to adhere to when viewing the turtles on the beach. They include:

    * Never approach or handle moving turtles
    * Never bring a camera (especially with a flash) to the nesting site
    * Never handle turtle eggs
    * Camping overnight on the beach is strictly prohibited
    * Lighting a fire or using a torch on a designated turtle beach / reserve is strictly prohibited
    * Never litter (as turtles frequently confuse plastic for jellyfish)

    For further information on Ras’ Al Hadd or the Sultanate of Oman:

    Contact: Mona Tannous

    Visit: http://www.omantourism.gov.om

    http://www.etravelblackboard.com/showarticle.asp?nav=21&id=77064

  2. Pingback: Sea turtle evolution research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Suriname, vultures and snake | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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