Sea Sense started as the Tanzania Turtle & Dugong Conservation Programme in 2001. The project was established in Mafia Island in response to disturbing levels of sea turtle slaughter and nest poaching. A community based sea turtle nest monitoring and protection programme was established together with an intensive awareness campaign targeting village leaders, local fishers and school pupils. Within two years, over 230 nests had been protected and over 10,000 sea turtle hatchlings had safely reached the sea. Levels of nest poaching reduced dramatically from 80% to less than 2%.
Following this success, the project expanded to the mainland in 2004 and now operates in six coastal districts, covering approximately a third of the Tanzanian coastline. A network of community Conservation Officers are conserving and protecting endangered marine species in Mafia, Rufiji, Kilwa, Pangani, Temeke and Mkuranga Districts.
Sea Sense is the only organisation dedicated to the conservation and protection of endangered marine wildlife in Tanzania. Over the past 15 years, Sea Sense has grown considerably and the project has become more cross-cutting in nature. The project has broadened into four main activity areas: research and conservation; environmental education and capacity development; sustainable livelihoods; and governance and leadership.
Endangered marine species conservation will always be our flagship project. Due to the migratory nature of sea turtles and dugongs, Sea Sense is becoming increasingly involved in sea turtle and dugong conservation at a regional level, working closely with colleagues in the Western Indian Ocean and contributing to regional initiatives to conserve and protect sea turtle and dugong populations.