Why sea turtles?
Turtles are a fantastic indicator species for ocean health because they live long lives, travel great distances, and make use of all sorts of different habitats throughout their lives. From beaches and the crashing waves to coral reefs and the open ocean, the turtle visits them all. If turtles are healthy and thriving, it’s a good indicator that the habitats they visit are too.
Beaches are a critical habitat for sea turtles. This is where their journey begins as they emerge from their eggs and make a dash for the ocean. Maintaining beaches that are suitable for nesting turtles and their precious eggs is critical to the survival of this species.
Assessing nesting suitability
Watamu is an important nesting beach in Kenya and forms part of a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.
In collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Services, Local Ocean Conservation (LOC) has been monitoring and protecting the Watamu beach for over 20 years. We have protected over 1,000 turtle nests, resulting in more than 73,000 successful hatchlings making it safely to the ocean!
We are incredibly proud of these efforts, but more still needs to be done.
As little was known about turtle nesting sites in Kenya, LOC conducted a baseline assessment of the suitability of beaches for turtle nesting along the Kenyan coast. To enable this exercise, we developed a mobile app that allowed us to assess nesting suitability and mapping of socio-economic activities. This identified human induced factors that contributed to a beach being categorized as unsuitable for nesting.