A NIGHT WITH TURTLES AT RAS- AL HADD
Bipul C Bhuyan, Muscat
It was a fine March morning when we started our trip to Ras-al Hadd to attend
the Ras-al-Hadd tourism festival. Actually we drove up to Sur, which is about
320 Km from Muscat. Ras-al Hadd is another hours journey from Sur by a four
wheel drive vehicle. The road to Ras-al Hadd is a gravel road and somewhat bumpy
and dusty with desert all around. The scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed every
moment of the drive.We reached Ras-al Hadd in the afternoon and stayed in a tent
by the beach organized by the tourism department specially for the festival. In
fact they have put up some 100 tents and organized everything very well
including all the meals. It was festival mood all around with lots of games,
rides ,music etc. We attended the festival activities in the evening. However,
our main attraction was to see the world famous green turtles of Oman.
of Oman in the Ras-al Hadd area support one of the world’s few remaining
populations of the species and has the largest nesting population in the Indian
ocean. This area believe to support a nesting population of some 10,000 green
turtles. The turtles which we see to-day are very similar to those that were
swimming in the oceans millions of years ago.They have survived because they are
tough and adaptable through ages.
At about 9 o’clock at night our guide and driver took us to Ras-al-Jinx which
is about 15 minutes drive from our Ras-al Hadd camp site. We stopped at the
check post near the beach. Our guide took the permission from the official at
the check post. From that point we were escorted by special guide of Regional
municipalities and Environment to the beach in different small groups. It was
dark night but we could still see with the help of small pencil torch. Bright
lights, fires etc. are not allowed as they disturb the nesting turtles. We were
in the beach in another 15 minutes walk. The guide first check the area for
turtles and then he showed us few nesting turtles. It was a magnificant sight.
We saw one nesting turtle digging a pit in the sand and saw another laying eggs
in a deeper cavity. Then we saw another slowly returning back to the sea after
completing laying of her eggs. It was really amazing and an unique experience.
An egg laying turtle weighs about 150 Kgs and a meter long. They lay about 100
eggs at one time in painstakingly digged holes in the sand. The females start
laying eggs between 30 to 50 years in every 2 to 4 years. They continue to lay
eggs until about 100 years old. The turtles always return to the same beach to
lay eggs which is the place they were born. The best time to watch them laying
eggs is between July and September, when they come to the beaches in large
The eggs hatch in about 55 days, more or less simultaneously within one clutch.
They emerge at night and dash to the sea. Then they drift on ocean currents
feeding on plakton initially. About a year latter , they return to the shallow
water. Many eggs never hatch, sea water destroys some and foxes dig up still
more. Large number of hatchlings are eaten by foxes, dogs in their dash to the
sea . In sea they are easily picked up by carnivorous fish. Only 2 or 3 in
10,000 hatchlings ever survive to adulthood.. Therefore, they are considered to
be endangered species and World wildlife fund is studying them in Oman for last
It was past midnight when our guide took us back to the check gate. There we had
Omani gahwa and dates. After that we returned back to our camp at Ras –al Hadd.
It was an experience for all of us of one of a kind and surely an one in