Turtles of Mnarani, Zanzibar -Swimming Along Nicely
Heading for another stretch of beautiful beach on the Zanzibar coast, the white sand is blinding. In the distance another Pier is being constructed. New resorts are going up quickly, so the landscape is continually changing. This is a challenge for one of the area’s vulnerable inhabitants: the sea turtles. Turtles have been known to end up as the main course for dinner, but recent programs have given the locals a new perspective on the commercial viability of live Turtles. The Mnarani Aquarium at Nungwi, Zanzibar, set in a tidal-fed pool, is home to around ten green turtles(Chelonia mydas), and hawksbill turtles, (Eretmochelys imbricata). They are kept for educational purposes and tourists. Because this is a local undertaking by fisherman in the area, the Department of the Environment has sanctioned the few turtles allowed to be kept here. The Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond is a community based NGO established in 1993, in an effort to conserve the population of sea turtles. Hunting Turtles in Zanzibar was made illegal in 1993, but the enforcement is difficult. By providing the local community with options and showing that eco-tourism can be more profitable than hunting the turtles, it is hoped that the turtle population will thrive. A combination of government and volunteer projects are aimed at helping to protect the turtles, as many of their natural habitats are quickly disappearing due to erosion and modernization. Mnarani Aquarium offers continued education in the effort to save endangered sea turtles. This is probably the only chance you will have to get so close to these sea turtles. There is even a whale skeleton on display. I was told that years ago a whale was beached in the area. The locales tried to get it back out to sea, but could not save it.