Safeguarding hawksbill turtles in Hengam Island


Hengam Island, a small island with an area of about 37 km2 lying at the Strait of Hormuz, is known as an important nesting site for critically endangered hawksbill turtles. However, unregulated tourism and egg predation threaten the nesting activities of these marine reptiles. Therefore, from mid-winter to early summer 2018, the status of this nesting community was assessed. The results call for an immediate conservation program to mitigate the threats.

Duration: 2018 – 2019

Type: Research + Science-based solutions

Taxon: Sea turtles

Project administrator: Prof. Majid Askari-Hesni from Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman

QECI's Role: Scientific advisor

Sponsor:

   


Qeshm Island Complex comprises four islands lying at the eastern Persian Gulf, including Qeshm Island, the Gulf’s largest Island with an area of ~ 1480 km2, and three smaller islands, Hengam, Hormuz and Larak Islands. Hengam Island is the smallest island of this complex with an area of 37 km2 and a population of about 2500 persons live in two villages in this Island. The narrow channel between this Island and southern Qeshm Island comprises the only Iranian Dolphin watching site, where thousands of tourists visit every year to watch Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, in their natural habitats. Therefore, Hengam Island is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the south of Iran.

 

  • Trained local people of Hengam Island are collecting eggs of critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles to move them to a hatchery site. We believe an effective conservation program should provide science-based measures securing a sustainable connection between people and the nature.

The sandy shores of Hengam Island are important nesting sites for critically endangered hawksbill turtles in the Persian Gulf. Nonetheless, the nests are threatened by unregulated tourism activities and predation. Therefore, in the nesting season between mid-winter to early summer 2018, the nesting activities of hawksbill turtles were investigated in this Island. The nesting beaches were mapped, the nests were counted and the rate of hatching success were estimated. Further, the main dangers to the nests were quantified. The results, which will soon be published, call for an immediate conservation program to be implemented.