100 rehabilitated turtles were released back into the Arabian Gulf from the beach in front of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, as Jumeirah Group celebrated World Sea Turtle Day.
The release of the turtles, who had been rehabilitated at facilities within Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah as part of the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP), brings the total number of turtles returned to the wild since the project began in 2004 to 1,090.
The release was attended by hotel guests and children from the Dubai British School. A total of 96 critically endangered juvenile hawksbills, one juvenile loggerhead, two juvenile greens and one large adult loggerhead were released.
Six turtles were fitted with small satellite tags including: Beau, an adult male loggerhead; Cousteau, a juvenile loggerhead; Alpha and Angelo, both juvenile greens; Ali and Pawee, both juvenile hawksbills.
Beau was named by the children from the Dubai British School and Beau’s tag was sponsored by Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The remaining tags were sponsored by the Dubai Mall Aquarium as part of an ongoing turtle conservation collaboration agreement.
Burj Al Arab aquarium operations manager Warren Baverstock said: “We are extremely proud to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day by releasing 100 rehabilitated sea turtles back into their environment. We are especially gratefully to the local community and the organisations who found many of the injured turtles and brought them to us for rehabilitation.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that juvenile loggerheads and greens have been tagged in the region which will provide valuable data about their progress in the wild,” he said.
The turtles were all rescued from the shores of the UAE and nursed back to health by the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project.
The project accepts any distressed turtle, with the most common turtles found in the Arabian Gulf being the critically endangered hawksbill and the endangered green sea turtle.
The majority of rescued turtles are juvenile hawksbills, which are found washed up on the Gulf coastline during the winter months of December, January and February suffering from the adverse effects of cold sea temperatures.
Other common aliments include ingesting plastic rubbish and injuries sustained from boats.
Once the turtles have been rescued, they are assessed before beginning the rehabilitation process which can take upto a year.
Prior to release, they are transferred to the large outdoor enclosure at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam which allows the team to monitor the final stages of rehabilitation before the turtles are released back into UAE territorial waters.
A new outdoor enclosure is being built at Jumeirah Al Naseem which opens later this year and it will be the first hotel in the world to feature a sea fed and custom-designed turtle lagoon for rehabilitating critically endangered sea turtles.
DTRP is run in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, with essential veterinary support provided by the Dubai Falcon Hospital and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.
The day-to-day running of the project and the animal husbandry is managed by Burj Al Arab’s dedicated aquarium team.
If you find a turtle washed up on a shore, you can get in touch with DTRP on its Facebook page.