Time for turtle watch

YAHYA AL SALMANI  –

All preparations have been made to welcome tourists at Ras Al Jinz, a fishing village located in the Ras AI Hadd Turtle Reserve on eastern shores of Arabian Peninsula, during the Eid holidays.
Ras Al Jinz Scientific & Visitor Centre also celebrated the ‘World Sea Turtle Day’ on Saturday.
The theme of the day being ‘Seven species of sea turtles threatened with extinction… How can you help them.’ The importance of preserving turtles was highlighted on the occasion, according to Abdul Aziz al jafari, marketing supervisor at the centre.
Ras Al Jinz beach is world renowned for the nesting of endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas). It is the only place where the public can watch the nesting process of these amazing creatures.
Thousands of visitors are expected to visit the site to catch a glimpse of turtle nesting.
Al Jafari said: “Our tours consist of guided expeditions at around 8 pm when sea turtles start coming to the beach to nest.
Early morning guided tours are also available on a daily basis.”
The site has a ‘Turtle Museum’, which is ranked one of the best in the region.
It provides a background on the lives of turtles, historical facts and dedicates a special corner on the archaeological sites of Ras Al Jinz.
The centre has 31 units comprising 19 well-appointed rooms and 12 luxury eco-tents on a hillock close by.
It also has a ‘sea giants restaurant’, gift shop, library and a meeting room.
Al Jafari said the centre saw 36,000 visitors in 2017, of which 6,000 were citizens and the rest from the other countries.
The reserve was established through a Royal Decree in 1996.
Ras AI Jinz Turtle Centre, an ecotourism project, was established in 2008 to conserve the fascinating nesting processes of these marine creatures.
While the centre cannot contain the natural threats to marine turtles such as birds, crabs and fish preying on hatchlings or adult turtles being attacked by sharks or foxes, it along with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) — educates the people about the threats caused by commercial harvesting of turtle meat and shells.
Besides making all efforts to prevent loss of habitat or disturbance to nesting, it helps reduce pollution caused by plastic bags, bottles etc.
“We are glad to see everyone enjoying the turtle beach during holidays, but we ask them to respect rules.
Please do not throw rubbish into the sea and the beach, and don’t use personal artificial lights and flashes,” Al Jafari added.