Mozambique Travel

Vamizi Island Mozambique

Turtle Watching and Releasing on Vamizi Island



Like the 100s of turtles that nest on Vamizi’s empty shores and are irresistibly drawn to its peace, solitude and perfect harmony year after year, intrepid travellers and rarefied pleasure seekers find it’s just the place as do the turtles to rest their weary fins.

The beaches of Vamizi Private Island in Mozambique are largely unexplored and unspoilt, providing the perfect environment for sea turtles to lay their eggs. Five species of magnificent marine turtles occur and nest along the Mozambican coast. All of them are threatened worldwide and have been protected in Mozambique for over 45 years!

The 5 species of turtle that breed in the Mozambique region are:

  • Green Leatherback turtles
  • Loggerhead turtles
  • Green turtles
  • Hawksbill turtles
  • Olive Ridley turtles

Green Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles find their homes along Vamizi’s powder-soft shoreline. Home too many turtles waiting for night to fall to take their maiden voyage to the ocean’s edge to nest. If you’re lucky enough to be there in season, you can witness this amazing sight! Enquire to our travel specialists about the probability of seeing these creatures nesting or hatching when booking your Mozambique holiday– so you don’t arrive out of season.

During the nesting season, once the sun sets and during the night, the female sea turtles exquisitely emerge from the waves and crawl up the beach to dig holes and lay around 150 to 300 eggs! They enter a tranquil trancelike state while laying the eggs and it is important they are not disturbed with bright lights and noise. Turtles are easily disturbed and will abort their nest and crawl up the beach if there are lights, obstacles or human a presence. For this reason Vamizi’s Conservation Team make every effort to minimize any disturbance.

When the laying is finished, they carefully cover their eggs with sand and then make their way back to the sea. Observing the nesting process is a lovely and unforgettable experience! The turtles often lay their eggs below the high-tide mark, putting their entire nests at risk of getting completely washed away- once the tides roll in. When this happens, Vamizi Island’s concerned Conservation Team have to intervene and delicately relocate the nests to higher ground.

When a nesting turtle is sighted, a small team of Conservation Monitors will visit the site after the busy mother turtle finishes birthing- to record data and tag the turtle with a unique number that will allow her movements to be recorded. Once the eggs have been laid she will leave the nest and not return! Leaving it all up to the hatchlings and if necessary the conservation team for a helping hand in releasing them into the sea.

After an incubation period of between 50 and 60 days (depending on the temperature) the hatchlings will emerge, often at night, and make their way to the sea. This is a critical period for them as they need to rapidly orientate themselves so they can find their way back when they reach maturity. Turtles habitually return to the same beach and often within about 100 metres of where they first emerged.

After 55 – 65 days the hatchlings will feistily emerge from the nest and make their way to surface and down to the sea. When the eggs hatch some baby turtles may be trapped in the sand and these stragglers are saved and released by the Conservation Team-what a fantastic activity for children to be involved in on a Mozambican family holiday package!

 

&Beyond Vamizi Island’s guests and conservation teams alike always look forward to watching each clutch of undeniably cute baby green turtles escape the nest and brave the long journey- all the way to the sea. Although surprisingly strong and fiercely determined, the hatchlings face a 90% hatching rate, an estimated 75% survival rate on their trek to the sea and only a 1% chance of making it to adulthood. It is, therefore, no surprise that the females produce such a high number of eggs.

Baby turtles born a mere 5 cm (2 in) in length, these magnificent little creatures can grow up to 1.5 m (5 ft) in length and can weigh amazingly over 300 kg (700 lb). Sadly, their conservation status remains endangered and Vamizi island teams continue to do whatever they can to help the species escape extinction!

The baby sea turtles that survive their long trek to the ocean- will continue to grow and drift from place to place in the Indian Ocean, feeding on small floating organisms. Incredibly, the females that reach maturity will return to the beach where they were born to nest, even though it may be many hundreds of kilometres from their feeding grounds-even turtles are nostalgic…

In a completely natural, unassisted hatching, anywhere from 25 to 30% of the hatchlings will be taken out by predators on the beach (birds, crabs, lizards, etc.) or even get stuck in their eggs- before they make it safely to the ocean. However, on &Beyond Vamizi Island, staff and guests slowly ‘escort’ the hatchlings by walking alongside them and warding off any nearby predators to ensure each and every turtle successfully makes it to the sea, thereby increasing their potential to reach adulthood by a small margin!

Here’s hoping these courageous little creatures can continue to escape the nest and even extinction, and remain a truly special species that will enchant our children and grandchildren for generations to come…

Gain insights into the Oceans without Borders initiative. Choose to enjoy an activity that will expose you to the conservation efforts that preserve this magnificent natural haven-home to many protected creatures!