Today….In celebration of 10 years of sea turtle rehabilitation, my team and I released 110 rehabilitated hawksbill sea turtles back to the wild. Many of the turtles that we released today were rescued earlier this year by the likes of TDIC and Emirates Marine Environmental Group as well as many of the people of the UAE.
Here’s what Gulf News Said: More than 100 critically endangered hawksbill turtles found sick and injured on beaches were on Monday released back into the sea after being nurtured back to health in Dubai. The release, cheered on by beach goers and schoolchildren, coincided with World Sea Turtle Day on June 16.
It also marked 10 years of the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) of the Burj Al Arab hotel, which has rehabilitated and released almost 700 turtles. The turtles are handed over to DTRP by animal lovers after they are found washed up on the beach, often near death. They typically wash up after falling ill from eating rubbish mistaken for food or after getting hurt in impacts with sea vessels. Some are also found cold-stunned or tangled in fish nets.
Slowed down in the water by disease or injury, barnacles start to grow on the turtles, slowing them even more. The problems mean they cannot swim and feed on their own, washing up on the shore near death, hungry and exposed to the fierce sun. The fortunate ones are found in time and taken to DTRP. After they are treated and found fit enough, the turtles are released. Warren Baverstock, who heads the hotel’s aquarium department, said the project is a success as none of the released turtles have returned to DTRP.
The released turtles are tagged and the ID also carries the contact address of Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office. “Humans have been a risk to the turtles. I would urge people to be mindful of rubbish. In the water, it looks like food to turtles,” Baverstock said. Monday’s release of the 110 yearlings was supported by dozens of mostly Emirati kindergarten students from The International School of Choueifat in Dubai, guests of the Jumeirah hospitality group (which owns Burj Al Arab) and the wider community.
“I’ve never seen so many turtles before. I’m happy they are doing good and going home,” said kindergarten pupil Hla Sousa. Home for the hawksbill sea turtles is generally the Arabian Gulf and tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.