Can you remember where you were 17 years ago? What the world was like in 2003?
For LOC, we were only 6 years old and Watamu looked very different to what we see today!
2003 was the year of Mama Mayai’s first recorded nest in Watamu, Kenya. Since then she has been our longest standing nesting female – laying a recorded 35 nests! She is a green turtle (Chelonia mydas), which is listed as an endangered species.
During this period, our Beach & Nest monitoring programme has operated in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service, residents and beach operators – supported through our amazing donors. It is this collective effort and support which sustained the important conservation efforts needed in Watamu for all those years, a great feat considering the immense and ever-increasing pressures faced by our marine environment.
35 Nests | 6 nesting seasons | 2,824 hatchlings
The direct impact of these conservation efforts is exemplified by Mama Mayai nesting 35 times, over 6 nesting seasons – resulting in 2,824 baby turtles successfully hatching! And if we go by the general statistic of 1 in 1,000 turtle hatchlings make it to adulthood, she will produce 2-3 adult sea turtles from these nests.
Stop. Read the above paragraph once more.
It really makes you appreciate the sea turtles that visit our precious shores and how important it is for us to protect them!
This story is also very special for LOC. It reiterates the importance of our conservation efforts and reminds us to plan for the long-term when protecting our marine resources. In addition to this, the initial insight came from our Watamu nest monitor coordinator Newton Shungu, who obtained the insight from using our nest monitoring app. Whilst capturing Mama Mayai’s first nest for 2020, the app highlighted all her historical nests too, drawing his attention to explore the nesting mother further and revealing this inspiring story!
Newton had this to say: “It was amazing to record a new nest being laid and then finding out the nesting mother had such a long history with us and her nesting beach. We managed to link her nesting seasons and nests based on her tag, which is also interesting as she’s had the same tag for 17years without losing it along her journeys in the open ocean!”
When sharing the story with Lewa Karisa, our Turtle Rehabilitation Centre co-ordinator, he responded with amazement: “You know, in 2003 I was still in school and back then I had no idea that sea turtles even existed! A lot has changed since then, here I am working in a turtle rehab centre! I urge for everyone to please take care of sea turtles, there is so much to learn from them. We are living through this story today, and not just reading about it in a book of how things used to be when nature was thriving. We need to protect our marine environment so a similar amazing story can be told in another 17 years!”
Unfortunately, safe and natural turtle nesting beaches along the Kenyan coast are under immense pressure and threats – learn more in this article. We all need to work hard on protecting what precious spaces they do have. Both for the sea turtles and the many other species and people who depend on them too.
Our nest monitoring programme is made possible through donations, you can help us protect nesting beaches by Protecting a Nest or donating. Please help us keep Mama Mayai and turtles like her safe and nesting in these sites for decades more to come.