Most hotels have a very familiar set of employees – cooks, receptionists, cleaners, bar staff, and their managers.
This hotel in the small Middle-Eastern country of Oman however, has one employee you are unlikely to find in too many other resorts however … a full-time turtle ranger. The luxury Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa is located at one of five nesting sites for turtles in Oman. Around 100 turtles return to the resort’s beach every year to lay their eggs, and as part of the hotel’s development, a careful conservation plan was put in place. Part of that was hiring a turtle ranger, Mohammed Al Hasani, whose job it is to watch over the endangered creatures.
To prepare for the role, he trained for two months to learn everything there is to know about the creatures: their lives, their nesting habits, and the threats they face. Mohammed explained: “I grew up in Qantab, which is a small fishing village just along the coast from the resort. Since I was a young boy, I have been a keen fisherman. I saw many turtles in trouble caught up in fishing lines or nets, so I would help them.” He said his best experience in the job was seeing a giant turtle of scarcely believable size.
“During my training, we visited Masirah Island and I remember seeing a large leatherback turtle, around two meters in length. It was the biggest turtle I have ever seen, which was very special,” he said. “But it is always nice to see the reaction of the guests when they see the turtles nesting or watch the hatchlings enter the water for the first time. I never get tired of seeing that.” On his favourite part of the job, he said: “coming to work in the morning and checking with excitement to see if there are any new nests or signs of new hatchlings that have already ran off to the sea during the night.” Aside from protecting the animals, Mohammed also gives eco-talks to guests about the precious turtles at the resort. Over the past few weeks, more than 170 turtles have hatched on the beach, with hawksbill and green turtles all successfully finding their way to the sea.
Last year, across 92 separate nests, there were more than 4100 hatchlings at the resort.