On 29 September 2019, Oman post issued a set of five stamps under the title of Omani Turtles. These stamps have been issued in an effort to promote ecotourism in the Sultanate of Oman by highlighting the marine heritage of Oman. The set of stamps feature five sea turtles which visit Oman every year. They are Hawksbill (Cost: 100 Baisa), Leatherback (Cost: 100 Baisa), Green Turtle (Cost: 100 Baisa), Loggerhead turtle (Cost: 100 Baisa) and Olive Ridley (Cost: 500 Baisa)
Value: 100 Baisa – 500 Baisa (Omani Rial consists of 1000 Baisa)
Size: 4 cm x 4 cm
Paper: White bright
Printing process: Offset
Printing press: La Poste – France
Number of Stamps: 12000 each
Date of Issue: 29 September 2019
According to Mr. Rashad Alwahaibi, Manager (Stamps & Philatelic at Oman Post) “The new colourful stamps depict five turtles found in habitat across Oman. We wanted to showcase that the Sultanate has a huge potential when it comes to marine turtle presence that is yet to be fully leveraged. Having the population of such intriguing species create unique opportunities for the development of a healthy ecotourism sector, but we all need to do our part and support the national agenda when it comes to conservation and collectively work towards the goal of saving these ancient creatures,” (Oman Observer, 29 September, 2019)
Let’s hope that the stamps will increase awareness about the turtles and the need to conserve them. These turtles are Oman’s National Marine Treasure.
All over the world there are seven types of sea turtles. Five of them, namely; Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley and Leatherback Turtle visit Oman. The other two, namely: Kemp’s Ridley and Flatback don’t visit either Omani beaches or Omani waters. Every year thousands of sea turtles migrate annually from the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs on the various beaches of the Sultanate of Oman.
- The green turtle lays egg at Ras al Hadd, Ras Al Jinz, Masirah Islands and Daminyat Island.
- The loggerhead turtle nests at Masirah island, Dhofar and Daminyat Island.
- The hawksbill turtle nests on the shores of Muscat and Daminyat Island.
- Oliver Ridley turtle nests on Masirah island.
- The leatherback visits Oman every year but does not nest in the Sultanate.
Annually these turtles travel long distance to reach the beaches of Oman to nest. The most important nesting place for Green turtles is Ras Al Jinz. Ras Al Jinz is a fishing village located in the Ras Al Hadd area of Sur. Ras Al Jinz is about 40 kms from Sur (Omani city famous for Dhow building). The 45-kilometer-long coastline at Sur is the nesting place for Green Turtles every year. Every year approximately 20000 turtles come to lay around 50000-60000 eggs.
They dig holes on the beaches and lay eggs. After about 2 months (average 55 days), the eggs hatch and the baby turtles come out and rush to the water trying to outrun foxes, crabs and seagulls. If they manage to reach water, they have more chance of survival. Those which survive and grow come back later to the same Omani beaches to lay their eggs. To see baby turtles coming out of the eggs and making a dash to the sea is a sight to behold.
The turtle watching season is June to September. Officially this is the only place where public can watch the various stages of the nesting process under the guidance of experts. It is the Turtle Reserve called Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve working since 1996. The reserve has a Turtle Centre working since 2008. The Turtle Centre has helped in reducing commercial harvesting of turtles for meat and shells and provided a safe habitat for the turtles. The Centre conducts two guide tours every day (one in the early morning and another at night) for the public to see the nesting process in an environment which is safe for the turtles. The night tour starts at 9 p.m. while the morning tour starts at 5 a.m. For both the tours one has to be there one hour in advance. It is managed by Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN). The fee is 8 Rial Omani for adults, 2 Omani Rial for Children between 5 and 12 years of age while is complimentary for children below that age (it is advisable to check the rates before going there as the rates may change). It is always advisable to book a tour in advance as limited number of tourists are allowed due to conservation issues. There is a museum also at the centre besides a guesthouse providing good accommodation with in house restaurant. There is a very decent souvenir shop also at the centre. For in house guests (those staying at reserve) the rates for the tours are lesser. There is a meeting room as well as a small library.
For more information, please see:
Oman Observer (2019) Oman Post celebrates the Sultanate’s rich biodiversity with launch of five turtle stamps, 29 September. Available at: https://www.omanobserver.om/oman-post-celebrates-the-sultanates-rich-biodiversity-with-launch-of-five-turtle-stamps/. Accessed on 10 October 2019.