Monitoring of Sea Turtle & Marine Mammal Strandings

Although only green and hawksbill turtles are known to nest in Tanzania, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley turtles forage in Tanzanian waters. Tanzania is also home to several species of dolphin and east Africa’s most endangered marine mammal, the dugong. Sadly, all of these species are at risk from entanglement in fishing nets and many are deliberately slaughtered for their meat. Their remains are frequently found stranded on Tanzania’s beaches.

Conservation Officers collect data on sea turtle and marine mammal strandings to identify areas of high risk from fisheries interactions and illegal slaughter. Morphometric data is collected from each specimen including width and length, sex and distinguishing marks (eg tags). If possible, a tissue sample is taken for genetic analysis.

Green turtles strandings are the most commonly recorded in Tanzania but hawksbill, olive ridley and loggerhead strandings have also been observed.  Leatherback strandings are less common with only five records in the past seven years.  The majority of sea turtle strandings in Tanzania are juveniles with curved carapace lengths (CCL’s) measuring well below those expected at sexual maturity.  This suggests that Tanzanian waters are important foraging grounds for juvenile sea turtles but pose a significant threat to their survival.

 

Did you know?

Every whale shark has an individual pattern of spots, a bit like a human fingerprint!

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