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Discover the Madagascar sea turtles

Madagascar is an island that can be found in the Indian Ocean. It is believed to have separated from the African continent during continental drifting causing it to float away with some of the most unique plants and animals that at the moment cannot be found in any other country other than Madagascar.

The country has a lot to offer when it comes to tourism in terms of animal species and the trend at the moment is watching the sea turtles on the different coastal beaches of Madagascar. Even though sea turtles can be seen in other places, Madagascar is the perfect place for you to see them and study their wellbeing and also find out how they survive on the Island.

Sea turtles mostly live in seas and when they are looking for food, they can swim long distances even into oceans and then back to where they stay. They only leave the sea when it comes to laying and hatching of eggs.

madagascar sea turtles

Species of sea turtles

Madagascar ha fiver of the seven species that are found in the whole world and these five species are all endangered. The four species that are found in Madagascar are Marine turtles whereas one is a terrestrial turtle.

Marine turtles

The four species of marine turtle include the following:

  • The olive Ridley sea turtles
  • The Hawksbill sea turtles
  • The green sea turtles
  • The loggerhead sea turtles

Some species might be hard to spot but the easiest are the hawksbill turtles and the green sea turtles as these normally come out of the water to lay their eggs on the beaches. The turtles that are found in Madagascar are either terrestrial or marine turtles and all these can be observed in their habitats.

Terrestrial turtles

The terrestrial turtle that is found in Madagascar is known as the Radiated tortoise and it is one of the most beautiful tortoises in the whole world. The radiated tortoise has a black shell that is decorated with yellow beams that look like sun rays and it can live up to 100 years of age. These species can mostly be seen in the southern part of Madagascar in the plateaus, rise up to 50 cm and it had become endangered till the Malagasy people who refer to eating it as a Fady started protecting it. A Fady refers to omens that are committed by the people and once you commit the omen, a sacrifice has to be made in order for one to be cleansed.

The nesting of sea turtles

The sea turtles in Madagascar nest along the beaches where they were born. When it is time for them to lay the eggs, the female turtles return to the beach where they dig nests and lay their eggs. The hatching of the eggs takes about 60 days before the young turtles come out of the egg shells and then they follow the shadow that is created by the moonlight on the sea and head back to the water. They are then taken care of by the old turtles until they are ready to fend for themselves.

The sex of turtles can only be decided through one factor which is where the eggs have been laid. If the eggs are laid in a warm place the turtles turn out to be female and if the eggs are laid in a cold place the turtles turn out to be male.

When they come out of the water for nesting, they look for places where there is less disturbance because they are incredibly sensitive to any movement and that is why it is hard to see them during nesting as they try as much as possible to look for places where there is less disturbance.

After the laying of the eggs, the female turtles rub themselves with sand in order to distract the predators that come looking for the eggs. The whole process of distraction roughly takes two to three hours and when the rubbing of sand is done, the predators follow the scent of the females and move away from the eggs.

How can one watch the sea turtles in Madagascar?

Watching turtles can be done in different ways and you can chose which one you want suits you best. You can either get to see the turtles while snorkeling or go swimming with them. The other option is by sitting on the beach and waiting for them to come out of the water as they lay their eggs but this makes it hard to spot them depending on the season when you get to visit the country.

Where sea turtle watching is carried out in Madagascar

There are several places where you can go for sea turtle watching in Madagascar but there are a few that are famous for having them in plenty. One can decide to go for the nesting period or see them when they are under water. Some of the places where you can go for sea turtle viewing include the following:

  • The Ankazoberavina beach

The Ankazoberavina beach is where you can view the sea turtles nesting. The nesting is done in an extremely quiet place and it is a volcanic island which is surrounded with bush thickets and a white sand beach where you will be able to view them. The beach has an Eco lodge where you can rest and get equipment for sea turtle watching. Remember that when you are viewing the turtles you need to get a spot where they can’t easily sense you as they might hide when they sense anyone near them.

  • Nosey Tanikely

The Nosey Tanikely also houses various sea turtles and these can easily be viewed as they come out to lay their eggs and also search for food. Most sea turtles feed on jellyfish and sponges and you can easily view them from the Nosey Tanikely while taking a swim in the deep waters.

  • Mangily-Ifaty

Mangily-Ifaty is located in the Northern part of Madagascar and most of the tourists refer to it as the village of turtles due to having many sea turtles in the area. The Ifaty is made up of two small dusty fishing villages and the center that was constructed there helps in preserving the turtles that had become endangered due to poaching by the locals. The turtles are kept in the Mangily-Ifaty until they are old enough to be released to their natural habitats in the sea.

  • The Nosey Be

Known to be as one of the top destinations for most tourist who visit Madagascar, Nosey Be is one of the best places where you can view the turtles from. The turtles at Nosey Be can be seen when you go for snorkeling and swimming and during these activities, you will get to see the various types of turtles in the area, see their habitats and observe their living conditions. But if you visit during the right season, you will be able to see some sea turtles on the beaches as they come out of the water to lay their eggs or during hatching.

The sea turtles are becoming endangered in Madagascar due to the fact that their habitats are being destroyed and the increased poaching form the locals since there is a high demand for turtle meat on the Madagascan market.

Watching the turtles in Madagascar has become a very demanding activity that is now carried out by most tourists because it is not as tiring as trekking and it can be done by the whole family. Madagascar is known as the land of sea turtles and to learn more about these amazing creatures, you can book with us and we take you on a journey that you will not forget and we also provide a tour guide who will tell you more about the sea turtles and any other thing that you would love to know about them.

The dangers that sea turtles are facing

The sea turtles in Madagascar are facing a lot of dangers that are causing them to die off and some of them are caused by the various human activities. The waste products mostly those that are not recyclable that are poured into the sea causes most of the sea turtles to suffocate and die off, the other danger that the sea turtles are facing is the way their habitats are being destroyed still by humans through poaching for meat and loss of nesting grounds.

When you visit Madagascar to see the different things, make sure that you get to see the sea turtles because this will help with protecting them from harm.

For all those that want to relax and enjoy Madagascar with their whole family, sea turtle watching is one of the activities that you can carry out. There are several itineraries that we can provide for you with the best prices when it comes to sea turtle viewing and for more information, you can contact us on our website.


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