Monday 6 November 2006

Oman: more wildlife than Belgium

Before sunrise I clambered over the rocks to watch the early morning bird and fish traffic. The sea boiled with dark patches as shoals (or according to another hotel guest, 'bunches of fish') moved along the coast. As I sat on the jetty removing sand from the camera, two fishermen offered to take me out to see the dolphins and after a few minutes the boat was joined by a dolphin escort which seemed to lead us to the area where their chums skitted in unimaginable numbers. It was quite the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Post breakfast, Mrs M snorked and chased barracuda, while Mandy spotted osprey perched on the end of poles protruding from the stern (or was it the bow?) of the dhows. It was then she revealed she thought she heard a marathon rumpy-pumpy session last night in a neighbouring hut. Mr. Freud may have had an alternative explanation.

During the rest of the afternoon we spotted flamingos, reef and grey herons, more barracuda, an unidentified bird of prey with white fluffy trousers and a turtle. The turtle was caught in a fishing net in the bay so we cut it free using the turtle freeing implement on my Swiss Army knife.

That evening we went to the ‘turtle beach’ at Ras Al Jinz. Under a full moon, Simon and I hauled the sand chair over abandoned turtle holes to watch one turtle lay her eggs, bury them with her back flippers and then begin the exhausting process of covering everything with sand with her front flippers. In contrast to our previous visit, the guides showed little interest and had very little control over the group, particularly one small gang who joked and chatted on phones with seemingly little respect for the sublime creatures. Hopefully things will improve when the new visitors’ centre is completed.

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