Nation’s turtles face extinction

By: Kabeer Yousuf

MUSCAT: Reckless holidaymakers and picnickers are emerging as major threat to the environment and the perfect harmony of the ecosystem will be on question if they are not checked, according to the Environment Society of Oman (ESO). Oman’s rich turtle population is bearing the brunt of littering and irresponsible behaviour of visitors at the turtle sites. The number of turtles has gone down. “Oman’s turtles are endangered due to light pollution besides the plastic being dumped on the sea and oil leaks”, Her Highness Sayyida Tania Shabib al Said, President, ESO told the Observer.

254820According to reports from the Ministry of Tourism, Oman has five of the seven species of sea turtles, namely, the Green Turtle, found on most its beaches and plentiful in Ras al Hadd, Ras al Jinz, Masirah Island and Ad Daymaniyat Islands; the Loggerhead Turtle that nests on Masirah Island, the shores of Dhofar and Ad Daymaniyat Islands; the Hawksbill Turtle that nests on the shores of Muscat and Ad Daymaniyat Islands; the Olive Ridley Turtle that nests on Masirah Island; and the Leatherback Turtle which is found in Omani waters but does not nest in the Sultanate. Among these sites, the Ras al

Thousands of sea turtles migrate annually from the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs on the Sultanate’s shores. At night, these turtles carrying their heavy shells on their backs, drag themselves out of the water to the beach and dig a hole in the sand using the tips of their paws to bury their eggs and then return to the sea.

254818After about 55 days, the eggs hatch and babies come out to start the most dangerous journey of their lives, trying to escape foxes, crabs and birds and push their way towards the sea where they find safety in the waters.

Watching the turtles’ night dash to the sea is among the most popular tourist activities in the country and thousands of visitors are camping at these sites annually.

“Visitors to these sites should observe the code of behaviour at these sites as your reckless actions can be fatal to these creatures. Refraining from using camera flash is one of the guidelines and those who violate these rules should be prohibited from entering these sites in view of the national interest. Social media should discourage complaints of those who have been thrown out from such sanctuaries for misbehaving. Then we can expect the rest to behave in the correct way”, HH Sayyida Tania said.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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