Muscat: Artificial lights installed along Ras Al Hadd coastline are distracting baby turtles, who are mistaking them for moon light, which is nature’s way of leading them to the sea.
This results in some turtles ending up being eaten by predators or getting crushed under the vehicles speeding down the coastal roads.
As a part of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs’ (MECA’s) efforts to protect and conserve animals in Oman, a “Save our Turtles” campaign, which aims at redirecting lost green turtles, was started recently. “Save our Turtles” was a one-night campaign sponsored by MECA.
“Around 20 people from different nationalities have joined our team through a Facebook page”, said Irina, a volunteer at “Save our Turtles.”
We have seen people at the beach leaving their trash behind. Plastic bags might end up easily in the sea and the adult turtles mistakenly eat them thinking it is jellyfish”, added Irina.
Ahmed Al Makhmury, who is in charge of the Nature Reserves Department at MECA, said the ministry is planning to replace the current lights with environment-friendly ones to avoid distracting the turtles. Al Makhmury also confirmed that work is on to build a wall to stop the turtles from wandering on to dangerous streets.
In a bid to encourage the local residents to participate in environmental activities, school children in Ras Al Hadd are constantly rewarded by MECA whenever they help little turtles with their journey. Volunteers have also visited the turtle reserve to help release hundreds of baby turtles back safely into the sea.
Every year, thousands of sea turtles migrate from the shores of the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay eggs on the Sultanate’s beaches. July to October is the peak time for turtle watching in Oman, and is considered a major tourist attraction.
More than 20,000 turtles lay an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 eggs each year in Oman, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s website.