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Zanzibar > Pictures and travelogues > Sea turtles in Zanzibar

Pictures from sea turtles in Nungwi, Zanzibar.

Green turtle at Nungwi, Zanzibar
Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) at Nungwi Mnarani Natural Aquarium in Zanzibar.

.Hawksbill sea turtle at Nungwi, Zanzibar
Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) at Nungwi Mnarani Natural Aquarium in Zanzibar.

Nungwi, the fishing village that is located at the northern tip of Zanzibar, is home to 2 natural aquariums which welcome sea turtles. Sometimes a sea turtle may be trapped in fishing trawls. Then fishermen bring the turtle to the Mnarani Natural Aquarium. This aquarium is a natural conservation pond that is managed by a non-governmental organization which aims at enhancing marine turtle conservation in Zanzibar.

The organization provides all services and cares required by turtles, feeds them and keeps them in a large seawater pool until the turtle is able to be returned to the sea.

Most of the turtles maintained by the organization are green turtles. Green turtle is named for the green-colored fat tissue under its shell. It is easily distinguished from other sea turtles because it has a single pair of prefrontal scales, rather than two pairs as found on other sea turtles.

Once green turtle reaches 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches) in length, it mostly eats sea grass and algae. It is the only sea turtle that is strictly herbivorous as an adult. Young green turtles eat crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasses and algae.

Green turtle is the largest of the sea turtles. Adult's carapace may be 90 - 122 cm (3 to 4 feet) in length. Adults weigh between 110 to190 kg (240 to 420 pounds). Green turtles live mainly near the coastline and around islands, especially in areas with sea grass beds.

Apart from green turtles, the organization takes care also of other turtle species, including Hawksbill sea turtles and Loggerhead sea turtles. These turtles, as well as juvenile green turtles, are preserved in separate basins.

Hawksbill sea turtles are named for its narrow head and hawk-like beak. They are omnivorous. They eat sponges, anemones, squid and shrimps.
Hawksbill turtle is one of the smaller sea turtles. Adults are 75 - 90 cm (2.5 to 3 feet) in carapace length and can weigh between 46 - 70 kg (101 and 154 lbs).

Loggerhead sea turtles are named for its large head. They are primarily carnivorous and feed mostly on shellfish. Adults weigh between 70 - 170 kg (155 and 375 pounds).

The conservation estate has also a few units of terrestrial species, such as Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), and other animals (a python and a monitor lizard).

Loggerhead sea turtle at Nungwi, Zanzibar
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at Nungwi Mnarani Natural Aquarium in Zanzibar.

At a stone's throw from the conservation pond, you find another natural aquarium, called Baraka Natural Aquarium, with green turtles and fish. In the clear water of this smaller pool, tourist may swim with turtles and feed them.

Green Turtle in Zanzibar
A Green Turtle at Nungwi Baraka Natural Aquarium, in Zanzibar.

Swimming with green turtles, Zanzibar
Tourist showing a young Green Turtle at Nungwi Baraka Natural Aquarium, in Zanzibar.


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Travel guide and travel directory to Zanzibar with many pictures.