Chissioua Quenefou Beach
The Chissioua Quénéfou Island beach is a favorite place for green turtles to lay their eggs. If you would like to admire this species (on the verge of extinction) in Comorian waters, you will have to camp there, as you can only see the turtles at night.
The Green sea turtle in Comoros
Historically, three species of sea turtle reportedly occurred in the waters of the Comoros Islands, but now only the green turtle is regularly observed. Loggerhead and hawksbill turtles once nested here, but apparently do so no longer. The loggerhead turtle has not been seen for many years (and then only on rare occasions) and hawksbill turtles are observed at sea in very small numbers. The green turtle nested at one time on all three islands (Grande Comore, Anjouan, Mohéli), but today, according to the Comorians, it nests only on Mohéli. The population of green turtles has declined significantly over the past 25-30 years, having been used as a food source because of poor economic circumstances. Comorians kill the turtles and keep the meat and eggs for themselves, or they purchase turtle meat which is much less expensive than fish or other meats.
Many people in the past few years have become aware of the significance of the sea turtle in the Comoros Islands and many people have not only stopped eating turtle meat but are attempting to educate those who continue to do so. A law protecting the turtles has been in force for several years, but only recently have sea turtles become a focus of attention. In order to learn more about the sea turtles of Mohéli, a colleague (Marilyn Noguera) and I recently interviewed residents of the island. Initially, there were two villages (Itsamiya and Noumachoi) that had a beach patrol and protection program. Now there are three, the latter (Houani) having been influenced by the other two. Efforts are made two or three times each week (more when students are not in school) to walk the nesting beaches or patrol adjoining waters. The reason that these efforts are necessary is that fellow Comorians, mainly from the island of Anjouan, routinely visit the island in boats at night and take gravid females before they have a chance to lay their eggs. During our interviews, we learned that the turtles are taken prior to egg-laying because the meat tastes “considerably worse” if they kill the female after she has laid her eggs. We know of no basis for this and have not heard similar claims elsewhere.
The persistent killing of gravid females is the most likely cause of the observed population decline. Natural predators are not a serious problem, nor are the collection of eggs. The residents of Mohéli have noticed recently a decline in the number of boats coming to take their nesting turtles and thus they feel that their conservation efforts are successful. This is particularly satisfying because the villages took it upon themselves to protect the turtles. They realize the importance of the sea turtles, and of a healthy coastal environment as a whole, both to tourism and to their cultural heritage. Having learned of their efforts, we have provided the villagers with posters and technical information
When to see the Green turtle nesting in Chissioua Quenefou Beach Comoros
The nesting peak at Mohéli takes place during the austral winter, from March to August, which coincides with the dry season at this island.
Where to stay during the green sea turtle nesting season
Travelers can stay in one of the lodges at Mohéli Island and some of the recommended facilities include Laka lodge and the Vanilla Lodge.
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