Born Free has been helping to protect sea turtles and dugongs in Tanzania since January 2001 by supporting the work of Sea Sense.
Over a quarter of the Tanzanian population live in the coastal zone and rely solely on marine resources for their livelihoods. Due to this ongoing pressure, some marine species, particularly sea turtles and dugongs (which until recently were thought to have disappeared from Tanzanian waters altogether), are critically endangered in Tanzania.
Seas off the Tanzanian coast are home to five species of sea turtle, two of which (the green and hawksbill) nest on Tanzania’s beaches each year. Sadly, sea turtles frequently drown in fishing nets as by-catch and a targeted green turtle fishery exists at several locations along the Tanzanian coast. Poaching of sea turtle eggs is also commonplace which dramatically decreases the number of hatchlings successfully reaching adulthood.
Sea Sense works closely with coastal communities to enhance the conservation status of these species as well as their habitats in Tanzania. Building capacity for marine resource management is an integral part of their work and is helping communities find alternatives to unsustainable activities.
Since 2001, Sea Sense has broadened the scope of its work into four main activity areas: endangered marine species and habitat conservation, marine ecotourism, sustainable fisheries and environmental education and outreach. As a direct result of Sea Sense activities, nest poaching has been virtually eliminated at all project sites and sea turtle ecotourism is generating a sustainable source of income for coastal communities.
Endangered marine species conservation will always be their flagship project. Due to the migratory nature of sea turtles and dugongs, Sea Sense is becoming increasingly involved in sea turtle and dugong conservation at a regional level, working closely with colleagues in the Western Indian Ocean and contributing to regional initiatives to conserve and protect sea turtle and dugong populations.
See below for Sea Sense Annual Reports: