Eighty rehabilitated sea turtles released back into Abu Dhabi waters

ABU DHABI, Eighty critically endangered Hawksbill turtle yearlings (Eretmochelys imbricata) have been released along a stretch of Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi by the Environment Agency � Abu Dhabi (EAD) in collaboration with Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort.

The turtles’ release, which was attended by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Dr. Sheikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD’s Acting Secretary General, is just one of the initiatives of EAD’s ‘Tolerance with Nature’ programme, which aims to encourage efforts in social responsibility and environmental conservation.

The turtles were rescued last winter with the support of members of the public, fishermen, EAD rangers and other partners, including Abu Dhabi Ports, the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Agency, the Emirates Natural History Group, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas. Following an initial health check, turtles with minor injuries were tended to by EAD’s experts, whereas those that were suffering from infections or diseases required more intensive care and were sent to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project.

The yearlings were rescued during the winter months (from November to March) when they become lethargic and experience a period of reduced activity – a time when small hitchhikers such as barnacles attach themselves to these docile reptiles, weighing them down and wearing them out. Many of the turtles also lacked proper nutrition and sufficient energy to make it through the season and ended up washed ashore or floating on the surface of the water.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary General of EAD, said: “Our efforts to monitor and protect turtles dates back to 1998 and our commitment continues till this day. These efforts resulted in Bu Tinah Island being recognised as one of the ten most important sites for marine turtles in the Indian Ocean region by the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA).

“Today’s turtle release comes within our efforts to implement the National Plan of Action for the Conservation of Marine Turtles in the UAE 2018-2021, which was developed in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and seeks to protect marine turtles and their habitats in the country’s waters. We are also working with MOCCAE to develop a single-use plastics policy to make UAE waters a safer environment for these turtles,” Her Excellency added.

Linda Griffin, General Manager of Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort said: “Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is proud to be involved in the release of so many rehabilitated sea turtles. We appreciate the efforts of everyone who has assisted or alerted us over the past few months to a sick or injured turtle, and through the commitment of EAD, we are so thankful that they are in good health again and ready to return to the sea. We wish the turtles all the best on their journey and hope to see them back on Saadiyat in a few years’ time, ready to nest!”

Source: Emirates News Agency