> Marine Turtles

Marine Turtles

Marine turtles occur in tropical and sub-tropical seas throughout the world. 7 species exist on earth, and 5 of them can be found in the Western Indian Ocean.

The five species that occur in Zanzibar’s waters are the Green Turtle, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead, all of which are endangered species, and Hawksbill and Leatherback, which are both critically endangered from extinction.

Our turtle lagoon hosts all of these species and you can learn about them.

Green Turtle

Habitat: Warm waters of Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Sightings in the region: Most common and widespread species in Tanzania
Swahili: Kasa kawaida
Scientific name: Chelonia mydas
Conservation status: endangered
Length: more than 1 meter
Weight: 150 kg
Nests in: Zanzibar, Mafia and Songo Songo
Nesting season: February to July
Foraging grounds: Kenya, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte, South Africa
Food: hatchlings are carnivorous, eating small animals and algae, juvenile and adults are herbivorous, preferring sea grass
Speed: 2.5-3 km/h
Life span: 80-100 years
Sexual maturity reached at: between 20-50 years

Hawksbill Turtle

Habitat: Warm waters of Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Sightings in the region: Much less common in Tanzania than Green Turtle
Swahili: Ng’amba
Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata
Conservation status: critically endangered
Length: up to 1 meter
Weight: 80 kg
Nests in: All countries of the region except South Africa
Nesting season: December to April
Foraging grounds: All countries of the region
Food: certain sponges, algae, jellyfish and sea anemones
Life span: 50 years
Sexual maturity reached at: around 30 years

Olive Ridley Turtle

Habitat: Warm waters of Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Sightings in the region: very rare
Swahili: Kigome
Scientific name: Lepidochelys olivacea
Conservation status: endangered
Length: 60-70 cm
Weight: 25-46 kg
Nests in: Madagascar and Mozambique
Nesting season: June to December
Foraging grounds: including Tanzania
Food: predominantly carnivorous: jellyfish, tunicates, sea urchins, bryozoans, bivalves, snails, shrimp, crabs, rock lobsters, sipunculid worms, fish eggs. When devoid of other food sources, also eats algae.
Life span: 50 years
Sexual maturity reached at: around 15 years

Loggerhead Turtle

Habitat: Warm waters of Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean
Sightings in the region: rare
Swahili: Duvi
Scientific name: Caretta caretta
Conservation status: endangered
Length: 90-270 cm
Weight: 90-450 kg
Nests in: Mozambique, Madagascar and South Africa
Nesting season: May to August
Foraging grounds: including Tanzania
Food: Omnivorous with the widest range of prey of all sea turtles including invertebrates, sponges, corals, sea pens, polychaete worms, sea anemones, cephalopods, barnacles, brachiopods, isopods, insects, bryozoans, sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, starfish, fish, wrasses, hatchling turtles (including members of its own species), algae, and vascular plants
Life span: 50-65 years
Sexual maturity reached at: 17-30 years

Leatherback Turtle

Habitat: Warm waters of Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. They prefer open ocean and can migrate 10,000 to 20,000 km!
Sightings in the region: the rarest of the region
Swahili: Noa
Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacea
Conservation status: critically endangered
Length: 180-220 cm
Weight: 250-700 kg
Nests in: Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa, avoiding beaches with coral reefs.
Nesting season: all year
Foraging grounds: including Tanzania
Food: only Jellyfish
Life span: unknown
Sexual maturity reached at: 12-15 years

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