I’m very happy with the new Duikamagzine (Dive Magazine) that just came out, a four page article on one of my favorite subjects of 2008: the Turtle beach at Ras al Jinz (check here for an earlier article on this website in English ).
Imagine a beach where you can see turtles. Nothing special you say, just go to a warm place and you might get lucky. But what if there was a beach where you can see wild turtles every day? Laying eggs as well, every day! There is such a place and it’s called: Ras al Jinz and You’ll find it at the most eastern tip of Oman.
It’s 4:00 AM as we walk through the dark sands, trying not to fall as it is still pitchblack except for the incredible starlit nightsky above us. Our guide, this is a nature reserve, points us the way with a red light as one of his colleagues brings the word “we’ve found one just digging its nest!”. Our group, three journalists, three German biketourists and our Omani guide for the week halts with excitement. Bad news though: she’s just started digging so we’ll have to wait for the egglaying to start. This will take about an hour, would we show up earlier we’d scare the turtle away. As long as the egglaying itself hasn’t started the turtles don’t like to take chances.
An hours wait at this hour is a long one, still cold, wet and chilly we gaze upon the countless stars above until the time has come to advance.
But what a sight and what a worthwhile wait! A massive Green Turtle has dug herself a massive hole and is slowly but steadily laying her 60-100 eggs for the night. Every female does this every year for three years in a row and is then gone for four years before returning to the same beach for her whole productive life (age 35-80).
It’s an emotional moment to see the turtle working hard, we can even see the eggs: small golfballs without the dimples. Then it’s over, with her backfins she carefully covers up the eggs, moves forward and starts filling up the hole. Quite a task as it’s almost a meter deep. It takes ages and while the sun slowly advances to the horizon she finishes up her task in about 45 minutes.
And just when the sun is about to show it’s time for her to get back into the sea. It’s a short crawl as she dug her nest quite close to the shoreline. And while two small hatchlings advance as well to the safety of the water (for now, the seagulls have awoken for breakfast as well) the first wave hit’s the massive turtle shell. A wave later and she quickly disappears in the sea, she’s deserved her rest now! And then, the sun comes up. What a great way to start the day!