With over 70 percent of the earth’s surface covered by oceans and approximately 94 percent of life on earth being aquatic, oceans play a crucial role in maintaining life on earth. Yet, this importance and marine life in general that they support is under severe threat due a wide array of factors, which include: climate change and rising water temperatures, destructive fishing practices, insensitive tourism operations and pollution among others.
There is global consensus among scientists for instance that plastic pollution has had devastating impacts on marine life resulting in declines in populations of some species such as the sea turtle. Plastic bags resemble jelly fish, a common food for sea turtles and some seabirds eat plastic because it releases a chemical that makes it smell like their natural food. After ingesting the plastics, their stomachs get filled with plastic debris, preventing them from feeding and eventually leading to their death. Abandoned or discarded fishing gear which are largely made of plastic have also been identified as another cause of death of marine life as they become entangled in them.
These examples are a clear reminder that our oceans and marine life are in peril and the time to act is now. In recognition of the need to change our relationship with nature, and create real and long-lasting positive impact, Serena Beach Resort & Spa has taken bold actions to protect the ocean and its marine life. The property has emerged as a role model of how responsible tourism can play an important role in addressing these global threats, not only for the benefit of the present generation but also future generations. This article highlights some of the measures it has implemented towards this end.
For the last 28 years Serena Beach Resort & Spa, one of the Gold-rated properties in Kenya, has distinguished itself as a leader in sea turtle conservation. It is worth noting that sea turtles face extinction making their protection of great importance. The nesting success of sea turtles around Mombasa where the property is located is threatened by factors such as human activities, predators and tidal flooding. It is on this basis, that the facility initiated a turtle conservation project, where nest sites found in marine habitats in areas such as Shanzu Bay, Mtwapa, Kikambala and Kenemai are protected and hatched within the property. Hatching cages made of wood and encased with a light-gauge mesh have been placed on the beach lawn of the facility, and are monitored daily to protect the eggs, detect early hatching and ensure the cages are in good condition.
What started as a dream has become an important milestone in and microcosm of marine conservation. According to the company data, approximately 61,931 turtle hatchlings have been released into the Indian Ocean since the inception of the project accounting for 85 percent success rate, and 560 Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley nests have been reported and secured. To celebrate the success of the property in its involvement in this vital initiative, Serena Hotels organised an event dubbed “Turtle Fest” that took place in February 2021. The event entailed turtle hatching and release, as well as the opportunity for guests to learn about the important role the company plays in protecting this endangered species.