What we are doing
At ‘The Reef’ we are dedicated to protecting the endangered sea turtles native to the South Pacific waters around Vanuatu. We have both Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles in our education and conservation program.
Our sanctuary provides free entry to all schools in and around Port Vila. By educating the Ni-Van population from a young age about the importance of each animal species within the eco- system, we aim to improve conservation awareness, starting within Vanuatu itself, but also globally, through our thousands of international visitors.
Once the turtle eggs or hatch-lings arrive at the sanctuary we raise them in a protected environment until they reach a size where they have a better chance of survival in the wild. Once we are confident they can handle themselves, they are returned to the beach where they were laid/born and released.
We are working to secure environments in which both turtles and our local community can survive together into the future.
Only approximately 1 out of every 1000 turtles born will reach breeding age.
Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world – beating snakes, crocodiles and alligators!
Turtles are ‘amniotes’ – they breathe air and lay their eggs on land, although many species live in or around water.
129 of approximately 300 species of turtle and tortoise on Earth today are either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, according to the IUCN.
Some turtles are carnivores (meat eaters), others are herbivores(plant eaters) and some are omnivores (a mixture of the two!). Many baby turtles start life as carnivores but grow to eat more plants as they mature.
According to the IUCN, Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered, meaning that there is a very high chance that this species will be extinct in the foreseeable future.
The Hawksbill turtle is named for its narrow, pointed beak, which resembles a bird of prey. It comes in very handy as this omnivorous turtle probes the narrow crevices of reefs to feed on algae and soft-bodied animals like sponges and anemones.
Green sea turtles are one of the world’s largest species of turtle, weighing around 65-130kg and measuring between 1-1.2m long. They have a strong, tear-drop shape shell, called a ‘carapace’, which covers most of their body, except for their head and four flippers. At the moment these beautiful animals are classed as highly endangered.