Sea Turtle Conservation – Monitoring and Conservation Project for Olive Ridley and Leatherback Turtles at Sette Cama

Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea Turtle Conservation: The Gabonese NGO, Diboty Conservation conducted a monitoring project in conjunction with African Waters for olive ridley and leatherback turtles at Sette Cama from Friday, 12 February to Saturday, 20 April 2024.

Some BackGround to why Sea Turtle Conservation in Gabon is so important

Four marine turtle species nest along Gabon’s beaches, and even though the coast is largely unpopulated by humans, breeding success is low due to other threats. One of the biggest problems is the omnipresence of enormous logs that have ‘escaped’ the logging industry and accumulated along the high-water mark. These logs block turtles from reaching a part of the beach that is sufficiently above spring high tides, and then, if the turtles are forced to dig their nests and lay their eggs below the spring hight tide level, the nest is often washed out and destroyed.

And then also, an unhappy byproduct of the Gabonese coastline being so wild, is that turtle egg thieves abound. Water mongoose, monitor lizards, and even red river hogs all comb the beaches for turtle nests. As if that were not enough, once the little ones hatch, they have one of the most predatory fish rich inshore zones in the world to navigate before they are in the clear.

Given the low global population levels of the various marine turtle species, doing what we can to ensure maximum survival of the nests is important. To this end, in collaboration with Diboty Conservation, and following the protocols outlined by the Wildlife Conservation Society, our ground team at Sette Cama financed and built a turtle nest enclosure. Turtle nests discovered on regular beach patrols carried out by Sette Cama staff are relocated to this protected enclosure and then monitored until the eggs hatch, at which point the hatchling are released onto the lower beach from where they swim into the Atlantic to take on the world.

The project was divided into two phases: transplanting eggs from the wild to the lodge hatchery and releasing baby turtles into their natural habitat.

Olive Ridley Turtles

In the first phase, which focused on olive ridley turtles, two months were dedicated to the incubation of these two species.

On 22 February 2024, two olive ridley nests were transplanted to the hatchery, consisting of 109 eggs in the first nest and 199 eggs in the second.

On 15 April 2024, 109 baby turtles hatched from the 109 transplanted eggs, achieving a 100% success rate for this nest.

For the nest of 199 eggs transplanted on 22 February:

  • On 13 April, 8 baby turtles emerged.
  • On 15 April, 69 baby turtles emerged.
  • On 19 April, 8 baby turtles emerged.
  • 114 eggs did not hatch.

Leatherback Turtles

Two leatherback turtle nests were transplanted on 22 February 2024, consisting of 71 eggs in the first nest and 51 in the second.

Unfortunately, neither of the leatherback nests resulted in successful hatching, likely due to rising water levels damaging the eggs.


At the end of this project, we concluded that it is crucial to conduct patrols during the egg-laying season to identify nests and intervene under optimal conditions.

For the next season, we plan to establish a daily patrol team and would welcome support from anyone who is willing to contribute. If you would like to get involved, click here for more info!

 Sea Turtle Conservation Sette CamaTortues

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