Threatened marine turtles in Lamu seascape make a run for survival
Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps give every hatchling the best chance possible
Lamu seascape, located in the northern coast of Kenya, is home to five of the seven known marine turtle species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback. All of the marine turtle species found here are threatened with extinction, including the critically endangered hawskbill. March through to August is the peak turtle nesting season in Lamu seascape, watch here the incredible moment the hatchlings take their first steps and hurry to the sea.
One of the biggest threats to the hatchlings is habitat loss through poorly planned coastal developments as these can destroy turtle nesting beaches. Female turtles return to nest at the same beach they hatched and if that nesting beach is no longer there, or is changed by building or development, then she’ll probably abort her eggs by swimming out to sea and dumping them.
Lamu seascape is currently under pressure from a mega-port, part of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project. The proposed port is three times the size of Mombasa’s current port and involves a new road network, railway line, airports, tourist resorts, an oil refinery and an oil pipeline. Development for the region is important and it’s WWF’s role to make sure that it’s done in a way that minimises negative impacts on nature and people.
Even under ‘natural’ conditions, only about 1 in 1,000 hatchlings make it to adulthood. Predators such as crabs, foxes and birds often kill the hatchlings as they make their way from the nest to the sea. When they reach the shallows, many more small turtles are taken by fish. Life as a marine turtle is tough from day one!
The dedication and determination of the teams in Kenya, and the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps to ensure that we give every hatchling in Lamu seascape the best chance possible. During the nesting season, WWF works with a team of volunteers, who work tirelessly, night and day to help protect adult female turtles, nests and hatchlings. Beach patrols take place around the clock on the nesting beaches to look for evidence of turtle nesting, such as crawl marks in the sand or sand disturbance.
Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has made a real impact on the extent we are now able to work with the local community. It enables us to support women to develop their own businesses so they have an independent source of income that is less dependent on marine resources; along with helping fishermen improve their fishing practices to ensure they minimise their impact on the marine turtles and the diverse ecosystem.
Marine turtles have been in our oceans for over 100 million years. They’re brilliant navigators, swimming hundreds or thousands of kilometres between feeding and nesting grounds. They play an important and diverse role in the ecosystems, making them a good indicator of ocean health. They survive on a mix of sea grass, sponges, conches, jelly fish, algae and utilise beach, dune and marine habitats – meaning that healthy populations of marine turtles demonstrate that the coastal ecosystem overall is thriving. But they face lots of threats along the way – so we’re doing all we can to help them.
You too can help these turtles by adopting a marine turtle with WWF and helping protect their hatchlings this Easter here