Introducing Ras Al-Jinz
Ras al-Jinz (Ras al-Junayz), the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula, is an important turtle-nesting site for the endangered green turtle. Over 20, 000 females return annually to the beach where they hatched in order to lay eggs.
Oman has an important role to play in the conservation of these endangered species and takes the responsibility seriously, with strict penalties for harming turtles or their eggs. The area is under government protection and the only way to visit the site is by booking through the Directorate General of Nature Reserves (24 602285; fax 24 602283) and joining an escorted tour at around 9.30pm every evening.
While the tour is intended for the well-being of the turtle, the sudden influx of tourists has overwhelmed resources and the wardens at Ras al-Jinz simply aren’t able to cope at peak holiday times with the number of people flocking to the reserve. There is something immensely intrusive about large, noisy groups gawping at such an intimate act, especially when flippers are lifted out of the way for better viewing and the frightened turtles are chased down the beach by mobile-phone wielding individuals.
A new museum and scientific centre is being built on the approach to the site and tourist numbers are being restricted. Perhaps this will help ease the pressure on the beach itself; if not, you may wish to avoid the area. For further information about the conservation measures in place to protect Oman’s turtles, contact the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment & Water Resources (24 692550 ext351; email@example.com).
For a more rewarding experience, you could get up at dawn in the hope of seeing the last of the late-comers. At this time of day, you are permitted to go to the beaches alone and can set your own limits of discretion around the few remaining laying turtles. If the turtles have already departed, then don’t be too disappointed: at dawn the sandstone cliffs are burnished rose-red by the rising sun, and the turtle tracks of last night’s heavy traffic inscribe the sand like ancient calligraphy. At this time, you’ll most likely, except at weekends and during holidays, have the magical bay to yourself.
July is the peak laying season for the greens when over 100 turtles come ashore each night. September to November, however, is the best time to witness both laying and hatching at Ras al-Jinz. At least one turtle arrives on the beach every night of the year. Full-moon nights make it easier to walk and to witness the spectacle but turtles prefer dark nights so as not to attract the unwanted attentions of predators which often dig up the eggs as soon as they are laid. The beach is about a 10-minute walk from the car park across soft sand.
A permit (per person OR1) is purchased at the park entrance and includes the guided tour to the beach.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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