Muscat – The Turtle Commando Programme is continuing actively with the support of local and international volunteers.
The third edition of this innovative initiative, focused on monitoring and safeguarding endangered sea turtles and preserving the country’s biodiversity, will continue its efforts till the end of December.
Manar bint Abdullah al Riyami, head of the Turtle Commando Programme, expressed concern about the challenges resulting from human interference. “The idea for the programme came from the unorganised increase in visitors to turtle reserves, which caused disturbance to the turtles and a decrease in their numbers,” she said.
According to Manar, the programme’s main objectives include enhancing public awareness regarding the significance of sea turtles, inspiring youth to volunteer in environmental conservation, and cleaning turtle nesting beaches of plastic and fishing waste.
The programme also focuses on finding solutions to several challenges that threaten turtles, such as environmental degradation, and contribute to their reproduction and environmental preservation.
The third edition of the programme commenced in June, extending across three sites – Ras al Hadd Turtle Reserve, Masirah Island and Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve.
Manar further elaborated on the challenges faced in the turtle reserves prior to the programme. These include human disturbance at nesting sites, non-compliance with laws, use of artificial lighting affecting the geographical orientation of young turtles heading to the sea, destruction of nests by vehicles or excavation, and pollution from plastics, oil or chemicals. Additionally, she mentioned the challenges posed by encroachment and unregulated construction at nesting sites.
The Turtle Commando Programme was first launched in 2022, with the second edition concluding in March this year. Its continued success represents a concerted effort to engage communities and authorities in protecting a vital component of Oman’s marine ecosystem.