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Marine Turtle Conservation in the RUMAKI Seascape

WWF Tanzania with funding from the Blue Action Fund (BAF) is supporting a local NGO, Seasense, to develop community-based sea turtle monitoring at some of the most important turtle-nesting beaches in East Africa.

The project supports community-based marine turtle conservation at multiple sites along the coast of Tanzania, including at Mafia Island Marine Park (MIMP), within Mafia District of the Coast Region. Seasense carries-out marine conservation activities in partnership with community Conservation Officers (COs), local residents of villages adjacent to marine turtle nesting beaches.

Juani village, situated on the east coast of Mafia Island inside the Marine Park, is the most important nesting site for green turtles in Tanzania. Funds from Blue Action Fund (BAF) are supporting the local community, to continue long-term monitoring of the sea turtles. Led by local champion, Mr. Nassoro Shahame a community Officer from the local village, he has been helping protect green turtle nests and hatchlings for over two decades.
Nassoro conducts daily conservation efforts including monitoring nesting activity, relocating nests at risk of predation or tidal inundation, documenting hatching success, conducting beach clean-ups and engaging local residents of Juani to increase their understanding of the importance of marine turtles to the marine ecosystem and the coastal livelihoods they depend on.

Nassoro has been working with Sea Sense for more than 20 years and has protected over 2,700 turtle nests to date.
In addition to supporting daily monitoring patrols the BAF project, also conducts population assessments on three nesting beaches at Juani Island. This is done annually between the months of April and June, which is the peak nesting season for green turtles in Tanzania. The support received from the WWF BAF project has facilitated this activity for the past two years and Sea Sense Field Officers lead a team of seven local community members to conduct the assessments.

These community members include Nassoro and an additional six residents of Juani village, who show a keen interest to participate and are trained on the assessment protocols. The team sets up camp on the beaches for 64 days with the aim of counting all individual nesting females. Metal tags are applied to female turtles who return to lay their eggs on the beaches. The tag is attached to a turtle’s flipper with a unique identity number that indicates that the female nested on a beach along the Tanzanian coast.

During the 2022 assessment, 19 individual turtles were tagged and a total of 61 nests were recorded in the period from April to June. The annual assessment is generating important long term data that can be used to estimate the size of the nesting green turtle population in Tanzania and trends on their numbers in the face of growing challenges
© Ngoteya/WWF Tanzania
Marine Turtle