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Study on loggerhead turtles in Masirah begins

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@lakshmioman -

Since May, the Environment Authority has been studying the nesting of loggerhead turtles on Masirah Island and following up with hatching after 60 to 65 days.

This is part of the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman and the United States Government, Fish and Wildlife Service, in the field of environment and wildlife conservation to study the pattern of loggerhead turtles for the next five years.

According to the marine environment specialist at the Environment Authority, the objective of this project is to understand the factors affecting the nesting and hatching of turtles to boost their population.

They have been studying three types of beaches in terms of density - high, medium and low to know if that has an impact on their rate of reproduction.

Specialists from the Environment Agency are participating in the field work of a project to study the success of nests of loggerhead turtles on Masirah Island, titled ‘Study of Nesting and Hatching Success of Loggerhead Turtles in Masirah.’

Aida al Jabri, marine environment specialist, said the nests had been marked, but they also came across hatchlings coming out from other unmarked ones by default. The five-year project will help experts to analyse the situation of loggerheads turtles population in Oman.

“We are studying the nests and the success rate of the nests, and we have marked the nests and wait to see the babies,” Aida said.

The study will only focus on loggerhead turtles and specifically in Masirah Island in the Arabian Sea.

“The breeding season is from April to September. But to understand their situation we must study the beginning and that is from laying of eggs to hatching. We wait for the turtles to arrive, make the nest and then we mark the nests. After 60 days we check on the hatchlings,” she said.

On Wednesday they came across more hatchlings from an unmarked nest, although over a couple of months since May most of the hatchlings have found their way to the sea.

“All the marked nests have already been checked,” she pointed out.

The conservation status of loggerhead turtles is categorised as ‘endangered’.

In 2020, there was publication of a scientific paper on loggerhead turtles by various collaborative partners including Environment Authority, Environment Society of Oman, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service and Five Oceans Environmental Services.

The paper was a result of extensive research on loggerhead turtles, which had been conducted over 30 years. It was this study that evaluated the long-term population trend that could etch out management priorities. The study, most importantly, had found that 79 per cent decline in the nesting population on the island that is considered as one of the largest nesting grounds of loggerhead turtles, making the current five-year project highly significant.

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