Muscat: A green turtle that left Oman 23 years ago has returned to nest in Oman, the country’s Environment Authority has announced.
The turtle, which was tagged by the conservation groups before leaving the Sultanate to explore world, returned to a turtle reserve established for their care and protection.
The turtle “returned to the shores of the Sultanate to nest at the turtle reserve in South Al Sharqiyah Governorate, where it was first registered in 1996 by the authority’s employees,” said the Environment Authority in a statement.
Oman’s rich environment naturally enables turtles to thrive and breed. According to the Environment Society of Oman, a non-profit set up to raise awareness and promote conservation of species found in the country, five of the seven species of turtles on earth are found in Oman.
“Four of these nest on the shores of Oman,” stated ESO. “They are the green turtle, loggerhead turtle, hawksbill turtle, and the Olive Ridley turtle. The leatherback turtle visits our beaches only in search of food.”
The society also urged people to keep the beaches and seas of the country free of debris, which can be very harmful, not to mention sometimes fatal, to young and adult turtles alike, not to mention other species of animals and birds.
“There are many benefits to a healthy ocean,” said ESO. “Unfortunately, human activities contribute to the accumulation of marine debris in the ocean, with extensive environmental and socioeconomic impacts. We are pleased to share some top tips for how you can help keep our oceans clean.”
Among the methods suggested by the organisation are actively raising concerns about wildlife conservation, supporting government programmes set up to stop marine litter, supporting environmental conservation bodies, the responsible and proper disposal of waste, and respecting natural habitats.
Adding to this, the Environment Authority said, “The integrated and sound management of an ecosystem is achieved by strengthening a number of building blocks to ensure that this can meet the needs of present and future generations.”
Some 20,000 turtles come to the shores of Oman every year to lay their eggs.
According to the IUCN Red List, a compilation of animals and plants facing extinction around the world, the green turtle is listed as ‘endangered’, primarily due to human activities such as residential and commercial development, particularly in the fields of tourism and recreation, and the overuse of natural resources.
“Green turtles, like other sea turtle species, are particularly susceptible to population declines because of their vulnerability to anthropogenic impacts during all life-stages: from eggs to adults,” said the IUCN.
“Perhaps the most detrimental human threats to green turtles are the intentional harvests of eggs and adults from nesting beaches and juveniles and adults from foraging grounds.”
Adding to this, the World Wildlife Fund said, “Classified as endangered, green turtles are threatened by overharvesting of their eggs, hunting of adults, being caught in fishing gear and loss of nesting beach sites.”