Amongst the fascinating marine life to encounter in the Maldives are sea turtles and here are some insights into this majestic creature that requires our protection too.
Of the seven sea turtle species in the world’s oceans, five can be spotted in the Maldives. Apart from swimming and feeding in these Indian Ocean waters, they also come ashore to the islands to nest. While they are a vital part of the marine ecosystem, the fact remains that globally, sea turtles are under threat and their numbers dwindling.
Hawksbill and green turtles are the most commonly seen in the Maldives. Pool villa accommodation aside, resorts like Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas even offer special snorkelling excursions to encounter turtles. Leatherback and loggerhead turtles are sometimes spotted in the country as are olive ridley turtles that sadly tend to get caught in ghost fishing nets.
The export of turtle shells and the production of shell-based items are amongst the major threats to this species along with plastic and fishing nets left in the ocean. While the Maldivian government’s ban on selling turtle products and killing or catching sea turtles has helped, the poaching of turtle eggs still takes place.
The good news is organisations such as Marine Savers in the Maldives are actively involved in turtle conservation and help to protect these species; initiatives include rehabilitating turtles that have been injured, protecting nesting sites, releasing baby turtles to the ocean and conducting photo identification and satellite tracking.