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Commandos to protect sea turtles

11 Oct 2021 By MOHAMMED TAHA

Muscat – As part of its efforts to protect sea turtles, the Environment Authority (EA), with the participation of local youth, will launch an initiative called ‘Turtle Commandos’ on Tuesday.

An official at EA said, “The three-month initiative aims to protect and monitor sea turtles in Oman, specially at Ras al Hadd Nature Reserve.”

He added that the initiative will encourage youth to volunteer for environment conservation projects, educate the local community inside turtle reserves on best practices, and teach them to protect and monitor sea turtles. “It will also motivate them to keep beaches clean and help clean up post cyclone Shaheen,” the EA official said.

“Participants will undergo awareness training on the importance of turtles. They will in turn transfer this knowledge to the community.”

The programme will engage 40 participants every week from all governorates in various activities and workshops to help achieve its goals in the Ras al Hadd reserve in the wilayat of Sur, South Sharqiyah governorate.

“The idea of the Turtle Commandos programme is based on several factors. Owing to the global situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges faced by foreign tourists in visiting Oman, domestic tourism flourished. This led to crowding at turtle sanctuaries as a large number of visitors came to watch turtles nest and baby turtles hatch without knowledge of the guidelines and laws of the reserve,” the official said.

“Without observers to monitor these large crowds, there was no control and protection for turtles in the reserve in the past two years. The programme will find effective solutions to meet this challenge.”

Located 250km south of Muscat, Ras al Jinz is one of the largest nesting sites for endangered Green Sea Turtles in the world.

Each year, thousands of sea turtles migrate to the Arabian Peninsula to lay eggs in a natural habitat which has been preserved by authorities at the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve. Visitors are offered a chance to witness the turtles laying eggs during the wee hours, while some may even be lucky to spot other species of turtles, including Loggerhead, Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtle.

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