Emily and Elisabeth are currently volunteering at the sea turtle sanctuary in Zanzibar. Last weekend they have been able to watch 75 new baby turtles hatching. Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos!
The sea turtle sanctuary in Nungwi is dedicated to protect the endangered sea turtles in Zanzibar from extinction. From time to time, the sanctuary staff also collects turtle eggs and relocates them to a natural aquarium at the lagoon. The turtles are grown and finally released to the ocean. In the wild, turtles have a mere 1% survival rate from egg to sexual maturity, while at the aquarium the survival rate is much higher.
During my stay Zanzibar myself and some other volunteers had the chance to join a trip to Tumbatu island to look for turtle’s nests. The island is not accessible to tourists and it was a great honor for us to be allowed to go there.
We knew that nests are only found on very rare occasions and were therefore not expecting to really find any.
We reached an incredibly beautiful beach in Tumbatu and started to look for the nests. Our third try was successful! Since the nest was located close to the water we had to evacuate it and took it to the sanctuary.
The eggs were buried deeply and we had to carefully dig them out. Each egg was placed in a basin filled with sand. It is very important not to turn or twist the soft little eggs in order not to affect the babies. While digging the eggs out, some premature turtles already hatched so that we were actually able to welcome our first baby turtles which was incredibly exciting and, as I said, an extremely rare occasion for volunteers.
After having prepared all 75 eggs for the transport back to the sanctuary, on our way back we looked out for animals captured in fishing nets, but luckily we did not find any.
Only two days later almost all turtles had hatched and after 24 hours in the sand (during which the plastron has to close), the animals are now in the water. It will still take them some practice to get orientation in the water, but so far all 75 babies look quite happy.
It was an unbelievable experience to be part of such a wonderful phenomenon of nature.
You can find all details about this volunteering program on this link.