Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve – now part of Maputo Nature Reserve – in Mozambique, attracts a wealth of marine life including dolphins, rays and sharks. One of the shyer creatures to be found here is the sea turtle. Hatching on beaches around the world, sea turtles are amazing navigators that do not recognise country borders, crossing as they do from one ocean into another. They undertake multiyear, epic migrations at sea, however, every year they return to the exact spot where they were born to mate and lay their own eggs.

Turtles, like many animals, navigate at sea by sensing the invisible lines of the magnetic field, similar to how sailors use latitude and longitude. They rely on Earth’s magnetic field to find their way home because each part of the coastline has its own magnetic signature, which the animals remember and later use as an internal compass.

Of the marine turtles monitored in Mozambique, around 77% nest in the park, so it is the most important leatherback and loggerhead nesting ground on the Mozambique coast. It is therefore vital to protect their nesting sites in Mozambique, or it would mean a drastic reduction in endangered loggerhead and critically endangered leatherbacks travelling along the African coastline and in the rest of the world.

Thanks to donor support, turtle monitoring programmes have been established here, with outposts all along the beach at Ponta Milibangalala and Machangulo. This means that, along this 90km coastline, more turtles will be able to re-find their birthplaces and produce the next generation of sea turtles.

On an ongoing basis, the incredible team of marine rangers at Maputo National Park carry out vital conservation and monitoring work that benefits the global turtle population. Some turtles are fitted with satellite tags so that their journeys can be mapped and data collected to learn more about the species movements. This helps to pinpoint where conservation efforts need to be focused. The beaches on which the turtles nest are kept clean and cleared of plastic and other pollutants. Young turtles are helped to get to the sea after they have hatched. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered. The dedication of the marine rangers in Maputo National Park means that the decline in sea turtle numbers can be slowed, and Peace Parks and partners can work towards the recovery of the species.

BREAKING NEWS: Maputo Special Reserve together with Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve declared Maputo National Park. Read more here.