Wildlife at Mnemba
The coral reefs surrounding Mnemba island are home to a vast variety of reef fish, anemone and other marine specimens, while diverse pelagic fish and marine mammals thrive in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Humpback whales, as well as many species of dolphin, a number of shark and several types of ray are encountered in the ocean depths
Situated in a coral atoll in the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area, &Beyond Mnemba Island and its surrounds boast a wealth of sea life and marine species. The coral reefs surrounding the island are home to a vast variety of reef fish, anemone and other marine specimens, while diverse pelagic fish and marine mammals thrive in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Humpback whales, as well as many species of dolphin, a number of shark and several types of ray are encountered in the ocean depths. A variety of predator fish in the area include barracuda, mackerel, kingfish, sailfish and marlin.
The island itself provides a nesting ground for the threatened green turtle, as well as many bird species, including the rare crab plover. The tiny suni antelope roams the forest in the centre of the island and the recently introduced and highly endangered Ader’s duiker may also be spotted on a walk around the island. Divers around Mnemba may encounter the world’s largest fish, the gigantic whale shark. Pods of dolphin are found in the warm tropical waters near &Beyond Mnemba, and snorkellers and divers at Mnemba often encounter these charismatic denizens of the deep at close range.
The highly endangered green turtle returns to its breeding grounds on &Beyond Mnemba year after year, travelling hundreds of kilometres to return to the very place where they were hatched. Under cover of dark, female turtles come onto the beach to dig a nest and lay its eggs above the high water line. Up to a hundred eggs will hatch after approximately sixty days, with the tiny reptiles rushing to reach the relative safety of the ocean.
One of the many creatures that prey on the baby turtles is the ghost crab, which scurries around the beach in a characteristic sideways motion in search of food. A number of bird species also take their toll on the hatchlings, with large numbers of wading species gathering on &Beyond Mnemba’s sandbars. Perhaps the rarest of these is the elegant crab plover, which disdains the baby turtles to feed primarily on crabs, which it cracks open easily with its powerful beak. Because of the endangered status of these animals, &Beyond staff carefully monitor and protect green turtle nests on the island.
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