Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve facilities getting spruced up

Muscat, Feb 3 – Over 48,700 visited Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve in Ras Al Hadd district of wilayat Sur last year making it as one of the top tourist destination in Oman. The number of foreign visitors was 37,044 and domestic visitors was 7,373. Ras Al Jinz is one of the largest reserves in the world for the endangered and rare species of green sea turtle.
The Ras Al Hadd district of wilayat Sur situated in South Al Sharqiyah governorate has a lot of natural elements include tranquil beaches and moderate weather. Fiji Handa, Director-General of the Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve, said that there were a number of programmes last year to attract tourists including special package for schoolchildren to watch the turtles at sunrise and in the evening, dolphin watch, cycling and house visits to learn about the family life in the Sultanate.
Handa also said that watching of the turtles in the Ras Al Jinz reserve was conducted in a calm and orderly manner so as not to cause fear or disturbance to the turtle. He added that there were clear instructions for visitors. He pointed out that the best time to see these turtles was between May and September as this is their nesting period. However, the turtle watch is continued throughout the year. Tourists can also check out the interactive museum which talks about turtle life cycle and types of turtles
Handa said that the management of the reserve was currently renovating the rooms, reception, waiting area, and improving the nesting beach to make it world-class. “We are currently managing the reserve, adding mountain trails around the area for visitors,” he said.
The visitors of the Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve can stay in 31 rooms, as well as well-equipped tents. The facilities also include a restaurant which can accommodate 60 people and offers outstanding foods. It has a library equipped with the best audio-visual devices and books. There is also a souvenir shop.
Said bin Juma al Araimi, Director of Operations, said the reserve currently has about 80,000 turtles of different varieties. The number of nestling green turtles in the Ras Al Jinz reserve is between 6,000 and 13,000 every year . They come from the coasts of the Sultanate and neighbouring countries, and from the shores of Somalia.
There are five rare varieties of turtles; Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Olive Ridley Turtle and the Leatherback Turtle. They cross the territorial waters to the shores of the Sultanate. The Ras Al Hadd has moderate weather and in summer temperatures range from 25°C to 36°C which is suitable for turtle breeding and nesting.
The Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve also has archaeological sites of around 6,000 years old. They show fishing and trade activity which Omanis have practiced in the ancient times.
Al Araimi said that there were ongoing developments in the reserve without disturbing turtles in the area. Environment friendly camps have come up in the area.
About her visit to the reserve, Samira al Riyami said: “The site is beautiful. We enjoyed watching the turtles dig into the sand and see the young turtles hatching out of eggs. The trips were well organised, the guides are explaining properly and interacting with the visitors.”
“Turtle Visitor Centre of the reserve was beautiful and useful,” said Ali al Hajri. Haitham al Jahwari, who has visited the park twice, said the reserve was known for watching turtles and various activities. He added that the reserve gave an account of the social and environmental condition of the Sultanate and information about turtles in Oman. Al Jahwari said that it was important to get information of the destination before visiting it to avoid practices which harm the site. Awareness is necessary because these are external influences which can change the normal life of the creatures in the site.