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Rift Safari
Travelling along the Rift Valley: Turtles hatching in Juani island, archipelago of Mafia
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Two species of marine turtles nest in Tanzania’s waters: green and hawksbill.

The green turtle is the most common and widespread species in Tanzania. While low density nesting has been reported along the mainland coast from Tanga in the north to Mtwara in the south, the most concentrated numbers of nests appear to be on the offshore islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and particularly Juani Island and possibly the Songo Songo archipelago. The main nesting season is between February and July. Hatching occur approx. 55 days after. There is evidence that some green turtles are resident while others are migratory moving to and from nesting and feeding grounds in Kenya, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte, Europa Island and South Africa.

Hawksbills are also widely distributed but are less abundant. The most important nesting sites in Tanzania are Misali Island, off Pemba, and Mafia Island. The main nesting season is during the northeast monsoon between December and April. Although no animals bearing tags from other countries in the region have been recorded, the hawksbill is a migratory species so it is probable that Tanzania harbours both residents and migrants.

In the website of SeaSense you will find the expected hatching dates calendar and you will eventually be able to schedule accordingly your travel to Mafia Island in order to maximize your chances to assist to such a marvellous event: thanks to their innate sense of direction the little turtles will dig themselves out of the sand and reach the sea ... once adults they will k return to the same beach of their own birth to lay their eggs .

Juani island can be accessed only at high tide therefore this excursion is tide-dipendent.

Please take note that you do not have to touch turtles or help them to reach the sea since that can result in their loss of sense of direction.

Turtles hatching, Tanzania
The little turtles digging themselves out of the nest and crossing the beach to reach the sea [photo by Rift Safari].

Their travel starting from Juani island [photo by Chole Mjini]