The sight of a hundred baby sea turtles flip-flopping along the beach can melt even the most hardened heart. As they scurry toward the gently lapping waves, they must navigate the many challenges of the beach, from clambering through crater-like impressions, to the crabs and birds that want to take advantage of the limited-time-only turtle buffet. Sadly, this obstacle course isn’t the only peril sea turtles face today. Habitat loss, climate change, ocean pollution, hunting and egg collecting have all contributed to a dramatic reduction in sea turtle populations worldwide.
Conservationists around the globe have been working to protect the habitat that is vital to their nesting, as well as tracking the movements and welfare of adult populations. At Time + Tide Miavana, our environmental team records the location, species, incubation and number of hatchlings of all the nests on Nosy Ankao and neighbouring island Nosy Manampaho. Within our waters, we have three species: the green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtles and the occasional olive ridley.
Currently we have 15 nests on Nosy Ankao, 10 from green sea turtles and 5 from the highly endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Several of the nests are even located directly in front of the guest villas and along the main area. Each clutch will contain between 85-200 eggs depending on the age of the mother that laid them. Each mother can lay between 3-5 clutches every year, always returning to the same beach that she herself hatched from years ago.
With daily monitoring walks, the team are able to note when new nests appear. Even if the mother laid her eggs during the night, they are able to see her tracks and the freshly disturbed sand above the high tide line. Each nest is marked, and the laying date is noted. Based on this, they estimate the date that they will hatch. Closer to the time, they will increase monitoring efforts so they can gather data on the hatchlings and give guests the best chance at witnessing the adorable parade.
The information that’s collected is added to an international database covering the South Indian Ocean, which helps track the welfare of sea turtle populations throughout the region. Researchers can then correlate the data against factors known to cause declines, such as rising ocean temperatures, which provides better insight into how they can better protect sea turtles.
Time + Tide are proud to do our part to support international conservation efforts of these beautiful, gentle creatures. With ongoing protection and collaboration, they can continue to thrive for generations to come. Next time you’re snorkelling or diving with our team at Time + Tide Miavana, keep an eye out for one of our resident turtles as it flaps peacefully past.
If you’re interested in seeing the laying season, the best time to visit is November and December. If you’re keen to see the hatching season, it is best to visit from April to early May. Check out our Time + Tide Blue Safari for more information about rates, our stunning beachfront luxury villas, and our wide selection of activities on offer.