Local Ocean Conservation (LOC) is a Kenyan marine conservation project, based in Watamu. We use sea turtles as a flagship indicator species to measure and improve ocean and coastal health. Working at grassroots level, we seek to bring about behavioural changes within the local fisher community that result in communities protecting turtles and ocean habitats, based on their own social, economic, and cultural interests and values.
Watamu Turtle Watch is our flagship project, comprised of the Nest Monitoring Program, Bycatch Rescue and Release Program and Turtle Rehabilitation Center (TRC).
Bycatch Rescue and Release
Since 1998, in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Services and within a network of over 400 local fishers, LOC has run the Bycatch & Release Programme. Each rescued turtle is assessed, measured, weighed and tagged. If it is in good health, the turtle is transported to Watamu’s National Marine Park where it is released back into the ocean. Over 25 years, LOC has implemented over 22,400 releases.
Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
Local Ocean is home to Kenya’s only TRC. Sick and injured turtles, rescued through the bycatch program are monitored, nursed back to health and then returned to the ocean. To date over 740 patients have been treated at the TRC, with afflictions ranging from exhaustion and minor injuries from fishing nets and hooks to severe spear gun puncture wounds and predation injuries. The centre also has a quarantine area to treat turtles with Fibropapillomatosis disease.
LOC is working in partnership with Pwani University’s research laboratory to develop scientific research concerning the causes and rise of Fibropapillomatosis disease affecting sea turtles.
Nest Monitoring Program
Our trained and experienced nest monitors patrol the beach nightly to keep nesting turtles and their nests safe. Nests that are at risk from natural or human dangers are relocated by trained Beach Monitors. The LOC team has monitored over 1100 nests, giving life to almost 100,000 hatchlings.