Oman is a small and increasingly popular country that borders Abu Dhabi, the home of Masdar City and the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant, and it is hosts the world’s second largest population of Loggerhead Turtles.
Listed as vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation (IUCN), these marine turtles can weigh anywhere from 300 to 1,000 pounds, but their populations have steadily decreased as a result of development, pollution, and other habitat disruptions. Enter the Environment Society of Oman’s fourth annual Masirah festival.
There are 15,000 Loggerhead turtle nests scattered around Oman, which lies on the Indian Ocean, but Masirah Island, a 649 square kilometer stretch of land located off the east coast of Oman, has one of the highest concentrations of turtles.
Albeit relatively sparsely populated with just 12,000 people living in roughly 12 villages, the turtles require protection to ensure their habitat stays clean and their nests remain undisturbed.
Every year for the last four, ESO has held the Masirah Festival to make children in particular more aware of the endangered species’ plight and to get them excited about keeping their environment as unspoiled as possible.
And since Omanis love football as much as most in the Middle East, the festival includes a friendly series of football matches.
This year, the oil company BP is sponsoring the festival. A fixture in the Sultanate since 2007, the oil giant signed a contract with the leadership to liberate a particularly difficult to reach gas field with reserves located 4-5 kilometers below the ground.
“We are delighted to support ESO for this unique project to help preserve wildlife in Oman,” Daniel Blanchard, general manager, BP Oman told Muscat Daily.
“Being environmentally aware is important in our own operations and it is important for the community. We believe that efforts put into educating the community on environment will reflect two-fold in future generations.”
All scoffing aside (after all, this is the same company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon crises in the Gulf of Mexico), they are sponsoring a deeply valuable project that includes lectures for students and schools and a massive beach clean up campaign.
“We hope to instill environmental awareness and values in youths and members of the community to ensure that the Masirah Island nesting area is protected as one of the two largest nesting areas for Loggerhead turtles in the world,” ESO’s community outreach manager Omar al Riyami told the paper.
Meanwhile, the Omani boys and girls aren’t the only turtle heroes and heroines. Check out this wonderful video of an eco-crusader who frees a trapped turtle while kayaking in the remote area between Masirah and Shuwaymiah.
All images via Environment Society of Oman’s Facebook page