Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are the second largest of marine turtles and their name comes from the color of their fat, not their shell, as commonly believed. Their beak is sharp and finely serrated, perfectly adapted for grazing in seagrass beds and scraping algae off of hard surfaces. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Considered by many to be even more beautiful because of its colorful shell, is the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) which is found in tropical waters around the world. Named for its narrow head and sharp, bird-like beak, hawksbills can reach into cracks and crevices of coral reefs looking for food. Their diet is very specialized, feeding almost exclusively on sponges. Hawksbill turtles are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Although turtle conservation and management efforts are underway in some areas of Tanzania, many questions regarding population dynamics, nesting populations, feeding and developmental habitats remain unanswered. As such the status of turtles in Tanzania remains largely unknown. Exploitation of turtles for meat and eggs is commonplace, coastal development is mostly unregulated and gillnets and prawn trawling pose a serious threat in inshore waters.
Our guests can regularly spot marine turtles feeding or resting in the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary. If you don’t hassle and touch them, they may allow you to accompany them for a long time without showing signs of disturbance.