Interview with Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa turtle ranger Mohammed Al Hasani
At Oman's Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, turtle ranger Mohammed Al Hasani strives to do his best to protect and educate guests about the rare species of turtles native to the Sultanate
How did you end up as a turtle ranger?
I have always been passionate about turtles and sea life, ever since I can remember. I grew up in a fishing village called Qantab just down the coast from Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. I spent my childhood exploring the local waters and at the age of 12, I saw a large green turtle trapped in a fishing net. I decided to dedicate my time to protecting and helping these rare and precious creatures. I managed to save that turtle and it shaped my future career.
What training have you had to work as a full-time turtle ranger?
I was fortunate enough to be recommended by one of the top environmental companies in Oman to undergo training on the behavioural trends of different species of turtles on Masirah Island and at Ras Al Hadd, both renowned for their turtle care projects.
What are your responsibilities as a turtle ranger?
I have been taking care of turtles at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa for over a decade. I patrol the resort’s beaches at night to monitor turtle activity. It is important to ensure the female turtles can nest in peace and that the hatchlings make it to the sea safely. I also watch over the hatchlings to make sure they are not attacked by predators like crabs and seagulls and am also responsible for relocating the actual nests from the main beach area to a secluded location at the resort. Another important responsibility is to educate our guests, visitors and even members of the local community about the importance of marine biodiversity and measures to take in order to preserve it. We host a daily turtle talk at 5pm every day in the Eco Centre.
How do you keep yourself motivated? What are the most rewarding elements in your job?
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” I believe that these words of Jacques Cousteau explain it all. I do what I love and hope that my contribution inspires others to embrace sustainability for the future generations. Here at the resort, we are privileged to have two species regularly nest on our beach - the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. It gives me great pleasure to see every hatchling make it to sea. Another exciting and rewarding moment is when I see the eyes of our guests, especially children, as they witness the moment of hatching. This is priceless.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
I think we do not pay enough attention to environmental issues these days. Younger generations are not being educated and told about these problems. Our life pace is so rapid that we don’t have time to realise how important it is to preserve wildlife. The pollution issues are vital, and it is our responsibility to educate future generations about critical matters, whether it is an endangered species of sea turtle or waste production, a carbon footprint or climate change.
What would you say are your favourite elements in the job?
I would say I am very lucky to do the job of my dreams and be one with nature. When I get an opportunity to teach something positive, encouraging and valuable, it gives me great pleasure to know it will be used for a better cause.
How many nests and hatchlings do you monitor in a given year?
On average 80 female green and hawksbill turtles lay around 120 eggs per nest on the beaches of Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa and Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa. This year we already counted 34 nests as of April 1st and we are expecting more as the nesting season in Oman normally lasts from nearly seven months from January to July.