To meet the green sea turtle

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There are not too many sandy beaches in Oman. But those which are, were chosen by green sea turtles as a place of nesting.

Green sea turtle (Chelonia Mydas) is a large, weighing up to 300 kilograms turtle living in the tropical and subtropical oceans. Average weight of the animal desn’t exceed 200kg. They are usually around 1 meter long (measuring the carapace) but some individuals reach even 1,5m. The name of the species comes from the color of their skin. It is believed that it’s a result of their herbivory. They mostly eat algae and seagrasses. But only when they reach maturity; when hatchlings they are carnivorous.

Green turtles are known for their habbit of nesting always on the same beach, the beach they were born at. Even if they live thousands kilometers away, when the breeding time comes they overcome thousands of kilometers to get back to their beaches. Breeding time comes every 2-4 years. What is interesting – not only female swims all the way to that beach but also male has to cover this distance as mating takes place in the water by the beach of breeding. After the mate female goes out on the beach, diggs the hole and in the evening she lays around 100 – 200 eggs. That process takes more or less two hours, then she covers the eggs with sand and leaves to the sea. Smart female tries to mislead predators hunting for eggs and little turtles and diggs coulpe holes at the beach. But it doesn’t help too much and part of little turtles is being eaten during their first run to the sea. Life of the hatches in the ocean is not easy either. Probably no more than one in a hundred will reach adulthood and will be able to give birth to next generations.

Such wonder of nature can be observed on the beaches of Ras al Jinz. 120 square kilometers of the coast are covered by national nature reserve to protect green turtles which are in danger of extinction. 45 kilometers of the seaside has been under special protection since 1996. Visiting beaches and watching those giant turtles nest is possible but only under reserve’s control. Omani beaches are that intreresting for turtles that it’s almost guaranteed to meet them there every evening.

Number of tourists wanting to experience this miracle is so big that it’s hard to find a room in a hotel within 50 kilometers. If the area wasn’t protected by the reserve the turtles would have been trampled by this multinational bunch of tourists. Now they have to book a trip in advance, pay 3 Omani rials and follow the rules announced by guides. The trips are organised after darfk and first and the most important rule is „no flash”. Only the guide has a torch and directs it so that you could see the animal but not to disturb it. Such rules effectively prevent to take the good picutre but that’s the experience that matters. Being a witness of this natural process of life creaction is an incredible and unforgettable moment and even inability of taking pictures cannot spoil it.

Seeing a huge turtle female cover the eggs with sand, scramble out of the hole in the sand and carry her heavy carapace to the sea is so moving that it stays in the memory for long time.

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