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Back To Nature

With extinction threatening, the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project is working hard to help save injured or sick turtles in the UAE’s surrounding waters. FOOD finds out how and why.

Turtles that recover are then relocated to the Mina A’ Salam turtle enclosure. Here, the DTRP team monitors the turtles and their feeding behavior. During this time members of the public can visit the turtle sanctuary. At Friday brunch at Al Muna and Zheng He’s restaurants, diners can experience feeding time first-hand, as can guests staying within the resort on Wednesday afternoons. By providing public interaction, the DTRP hopes to raise awareness for turtles and the need to protect marine life. For instance, the number of turtle causalities could be significantly reduced if the public refrained from littering on beaches. The turtles remain at the sanctuary until fully recuperated and back to their original health. On average most will stay around a year, but the length of stay is dependent on the turtle’s condition. In this respect, not all the turtles will return to the wild. Animals with missing limbs, blindness and neurological problems would never be able to survive, therefore are permanently looked after, cared for and fed at the enclosure. Those that do recover have their flippers fitted with titanium tags before being released into the wild. The tags carry codes for identification along with the contact details of the Wildlife Protection Office. And in their quest to discover the habits and track the turtles’ journeys, DTRP would like to attach satellite transmitters to learn more about the species. “Further tracking is important for us to build a picture of where the turtles that are found in the waters of the Emirates travel to reach their feeding, breeding and nesting grounds. Without the protection of all these sites, the turtle population will surely decline further,” explains Warren. In the past, the group tracked a turtle named Dibba, previously in their care, for 8,600km – from the Middle East to South East Asia. By saving distressed turtles and undertaking research, the DTRP provide a crucial role in protecting the future of tomorrow’s wildlife.

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