Iconic animals such as sea turtles are important ambassadors for marine conservation
All five species of sea turtles that occur in the waters of East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, are considered threatened species according to the IUCN Red List and are a major focus of our conservation efforts. Our sea turtle nest monitoring programs on both Mnemba and Vamizi Islands, which host regionally important breeding sites for Green and Hawksbill Turtles, are approaching significant anniversaries. Early next year, Mnemba’s program celebrates 20 years of continuous nest monitoring, while Vamizi reaches the same landmark in 2022. These are amongst some of the longest, continuously running turtle nest monitoring programs in the Western Indian Ocean, and offer invaluable insights on these iconic and endangered species.
Over the last year we have completed a thorough review of our monitoring protocols and data collection and management practices in order to standardize methods across our three island sites and maximise the use of information collected to date.
A new PhD research project commencing in 2021 aims to better understand how threats impact nesting sea turtles and their habitats at key sites in Mozambique. With increasing impacts from plastic pollution, beach erosion due to rising sea levels and storms, and poaching of eggs and adult turtles for food, some of the key outcomes of this research will be to:
- Develop and refine protocols to better protect nests against beach erosion.
- Understand and mitigate the impacts of plastic pollution on turtle nesting success.
- Document patterns of turtle movements after nesting events to understand their habitat needs
- Work with local communities to understand their perceptions and needs relating to the use and cultural significance of sea turtles at each of our island sites
As iconic species, sea turtles are an important indicator of the health of our oceans and beaches, as well as being a major tourism drawcard. Protecting all species of sea turtles has wide ranging implications for other marine species and habitats.
Learn more about our other projects…
Explore our range of activities at each of our field sites
Using the latest tracking technology we study the movements, habitat use and behaviours of apex predators, including sharks and giant trevally, to inform conservation and the establishment & management of marine protected areas.
Working in close partnership with coastal communities to build capacity, develop sustainable livelihoods, promote marine conservation education and train & employ Marine Community & Conservation Rangers.
Coral Reef Diversity
With some of our sites hosting among the highest coral diversity outside the Coral Triangle, coral reef studies are a major focus of our work including documenting & monitoring coral, fish & invertebrate health, diversity & abundance.
Fisheries & Food Security
Many millions of people depend directly on marine resources in East Africa. Our work contributes to fisheries monitoring, promoting sustainable fishing practices & assessing the nutritional value of fish to people as reef ecosystems change.
Listening in on ocean soundscapes using underwater microphones enables us to monitor the health of coral reef ecosystems, study the behaviour of iconic marine animals and assess the impacts of noise pollution.
Seascape Mapping & Monitoring
Mapping habitats & multiple use zones & deploying environmental sensors at our sites provides vital information for marine scientists, & informs marine spatial planning and the establishment & management of marine protected areas.
Islands have high conservation value for threatened & endemic plants & animals. Our work focuses on plants, birds, reptiles & mammals, including a unique sub-species of the Samango monkey and the Endangered Ader’s duiker.
Whales and Dolphins
Numerous whale & dolphin species occur at out sites in East Africa with our focus on regular surveys and monitoring & research of resident and migrating populations, including Humpback Whales, using passive acoustic monitoring (underwater microphones).