Sea Turtle Ecotourism

Amina, our Turtle Tour Guide in Temeke District

Since the early 1990’s, several sea turtle conservation and management initiatives have been implemented in Tanzania.  Despite the considerable success of some initiatives, sea turtles continue to be exploited in many coastal communities due to the economic gains to be made from the sale of sea turtle meat and eggs.  Therefore, sea turtle conservation strategies need to address the socio-economic needs of local communities through the development of conservation interventions that deliver positive economic outcomes. 

Sea Sense has developed a sea turtle ecotourism initiative that is engaging coastal communities in sea turtle conservation, providing an alternative source of income for many members of the community and raising awareness of the need to reduce pressure on critical marine resources.   

Sea turtle nesting density is comparatively low in Tanzania compared to other countries in the region, eg South Africa, Madagascar and a number of countries in west Africa.  Therefore tourists would be unlikely to be successful in finding a sea turtle nest themselves or indeed encountering a nesting female.  As a result, sea turtle ecotourism in Tanzania has developed into an initiative led by coastal communities themselves and has provided opportunities for local people to learn new skills and diversify away from consumptive resource use such as fishing.  A network of nest monitors (Conservation Officers) and Turtle Tour Guides are now earning a living from sea turtle ecotourism.  In addition, sea turtle ecotourism in now generating important revenue for local communities through visitor donations and viewing fees.  

Sea turtle ecotourism is also an important tool for educating local communities, many of whom lack a formal education and have limited understanding and awareness of the threats to marine resources including sea turtles.  Viewing a nesting sea turtle or watching a nest hatch provides a first-hand opportunity to observe the direct output of a conservation programme and can help to improve knowledge and understanding of the value of conservation initiatives.  It is very important that members of the local community including school students have the opportunity to participate in sea turtle hatching events.  Tour Guides and Conservation Officers provide that vital link and are responsible for disseminating hatching information to the community.  







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