are marine reptiles which are characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield.
Five different species can be encountered in the waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, namely green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley. All of these creatures lay their eggs on land, often returning to exactly the same beach year after year.
Sea turtle numbers are in serious decline, partly due to pressure from fishing, but largely due to pressure on nesting sites. They are very shy animals and require quiet and secluded beaches on which to nest.
It is possible to encounter turtles when out diving and snorkelling, when the females come onto dry land to lay their eggs and during the hatching when the babies make their run for the ocean. Generally speaking, locations which are good for one tend to be good for all.
Lodges which are situated in more remote beach locations are uniquely positioned to help with turtle conservation. Often they keep a record of turtle nests and, on the night of hatching, are on hand to make sure that all of the little guys make it to the water safely. Guests are usually invited to join this night time vigil.
Some lodges and conservation bodies also pay local fishermen to report nest sites and are sometimes able to pay local people a small amount per baby turtle that they manage to assist into the water.
If you really want to encounter turtles then you will have most likely have to stay at some pretty out of the way locations.
In Kenya the best areas are the remote Tana Delta
and Kiwayu Island
in the north.
In Tanzania the best areas are the islands of Pemba
, Mnemba, Mafia
and Fanjove Island
, as well as more remote stretches of the mainland coast including Saadani
and Ras Kutani
In Mozambique virtually all of the private island lodges along the Cabo Delgado
coast and on the islands around Bazaruto
should be able to provide some kind of interaction.
In the Seychelles
there are special areas reserved for turtle nesting on almost all of the islands.