Although it has been emphasised a number of times that Oman is a country with nature in abundance and variety, it is not enough to encompass all the things that can be seen or experienced in this magnificent land. Such one lesser known fact about Oman is the green turtles coming ashore for nesting.
In one’s life, there are various instances and moments where the words fall short to describe the magnanimity or the grandeur of a situation. Even more so when you know that you are a part of something that is bigger than you, when you are a part of a positive movement to help the future of the eco-system. Believe me when I say this, witnessing the green turtles nesting right in front of you are one of those moments.
Thanks to Oman’s pristine coast line, geology and warm weather, eco-tourism in Oman is a fast growing industry which sees visitors from around the world. Proclaimed as a reserve in 1996 by a Royal Decree, Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve located in wilayat of Sur in the Sharqiyah region has now been developed into a premier eco tourist destination and attracts its own fair share of visitors to watch green turtles lumber up the shore to nest. Green turtles (chelonia mydas), which play an important role in ecosystem maintenance in the form of nutrient cycling and community structure in their foraging habitats, have been thronging Omani shores for more than 7000 years!
From Sur, a new road takes you to Ras Al Jinz where the reserve is located. One has to maintain pin-drop silence, and as one moves further at a distance one can see the aquamarine blue sea spread like a sheet of shimmering glass with a glint of contrasting moonlight framed on both sides of the contrasting hues of the well sculpted mountains. All providing a perfect setting to what follows at night, as the turtles come ashore only at nights for nesting.
On the beach you will be greeted by a legion of female turtles nesting and others emerging from the sea, crawling themselves up to the beach. This moment you start understanding the overwhelming scale of the process. Once the turtles find a favourable place on the beach to lay their eggs, they start excavating the nest, clearing the sand by the use of its fore flippers. An extraordinary sight to behold!
After a while, an egg chamber carefully crafted by the hind flippers is ready and the turtles start laying the ping pong sized eggs. On an average, a green turtle lays approximately 100-120 eggs and covers the nest with sand. The turtles resort to an ingenious decoy to divert predators away from the eggs by making a larger hole just ahead of the actual nest to give an impression that this is the pit where they laid the eggs. It takes about 55 days for the eggs to hatch and for the young newborns to head to the mighty sea!
We can go and on about this wonderful creature’s lifecycle which can overwhelm you to say the least.
The nesting period lasts from May to October and you can find more information about it on Ras Al Jinz website http://www.rasaljinz-turtlereserve.com/