Every year, World Turtle Day is celebrated on May 23 to increase awareness of and respect for turtles and tortoises. At Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Sultanate of Oman, the in-house Turtle Ranger, Mohammed Abdullah Sulaiym Al Hasani, watches over endangered hawksbill turtles who lay their eggs on the resort’s beach and turtle hatchlings to ensure their safe travels to the sea.
To get some insider information about turtle protection at the resort, we talked with Mohammed about his experience working as the resort’s Turtle Ranger and his passion for the role.
Sustainability: Mohammed, how did you get started in this line of work?
Mohammed: In 2005, I was working in the Recreation department of another hotel in Muscat when I received a call from the 5 Oceans Environmental group. They asked if I would like to work as the Turtle Ranger at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Sultanate of Oman.
Sustainability: After you accepted the position as Turtle Ranger at Shangri-La, did you take any specific educational program or training? If so, how long did the program or training take?
Mohammed: Once I agreed, I completed a two month intensive training program with 5 Oceans, learning about all aspects of the turtles’ life, nesting habits and the threats that have made them endangered.
Sustainability: You must be very committed to turtles to go through a program such as that. Where does your passion for turtles originate?
Mohammed: I grew up in Qantab, which is a small fishing village just along the coast from the resort. Since I was a young boy, I have been a keen fisherman. I saw many turtles in trouble caught up in fishing line or nets, so I would help them.
Sustainability: What is your favorite memory during your time working with turtles?
Mohammed: During my training, we visited Masirah Island and I remember seeing a large Leatherback turtle, approximately 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) in length. It was the biggest turtle I have ever seen, which was very special. But, it is always nice to see the reaction of the guests when they see the turtles nesting or watch the hatchlings enter the water for the first time. I never get tired of seeing that.
Sustainability: What is your favorite part about working as a Turtle Ranger?
Mohammed: It has to be coming to work in the morning and checking with excitement to see if there are any new nests or signs of new hatchlings that have already ran off to the sea during the night.
Sustainability: What do you like to do during your time off?
Mohammed: I love Snorkeling! It is fascinating to see all the different species.
Thanks for the Turtle Talk, Mohammed. We also talked to Trevor Smith, director of sports and recreation at the resort, about turtle protection at the resort. Check out the interview here!