Rescuing Green Sea Turtles in Kenya's North Coast

Pate rangers untangle green sea turtles from a fishing net

Pate rangers untangle green sea turtles from a fishing net

Five of the world's seven species of sea turtle are found in Kenya's coastal waters – all of them listed as endangered or critically endangered by IUCN. Climate change, hunting, boat accidents, fishing-net deaths, and the destruction of their nesting grounds are all reasons for the decrease in numbers.

According to an article in The Guardian, the world population of turtles is estimated to have declined by 80% over the past 50 years, and WWF say that they could completely vanish from eastern Africa in the next 50 years.  

But the Pate Island marine rangers aren't going to just sit by and let this happen. 

All 3 turtles were released back into the ocean by the rangers

All 3 turtles were released back into the ocean by the rangers

A major focus of the rangers is turtle patrols - where they monitor nesting sites, reach out to local fishermen, and respond to any reports of turtles caught in nets. 

On 20th September 2016, Pate rangers were on one such patrol, and were called to assist with 3 green sea turtles caught in fishing gear. Green sea turtles can grow to 1.5 metres, weight over 300 kgs and live upwards of 70 years. These three appeared to be young, which made the rescue all the more of a success. None of the turtles were harmed from the nets, and the rangers managed to release them all back into the wild. 

The Nature Conservancy work together with NRT-Coast to support sustainable fishing practices, and just a few months ago, Pate Marine Community Conservancy published their groundbreaking fisheries co-management plan. This, they hope, will be a game changer in conserving the delicate and dynamic marine life around Pate Island, which isn't far from the ancient port of Lamu. The plan has been endorsed by the Pate community, and so has been an integral part of changing attitudes toward marine life here.