To mark World Sea Turtle Day 2022, Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has released a number of endangered sea turtles from Jumeirah Al Naseem beach.
In a move to emphasise the importance of protecting the UAE’s unique marine ecosystems and support ongoing conservation efforts, the project has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fujairah Environment Authority and Fujairah Research Centre, under the patronage of H.H. Mohammed Bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah. The agreement, signed by H.E. Aseela Al Moalla, the Authority’s Director General, will see the three entities undertake a mutually beneficial cooperation in sea turtle rehabilitation, research, and habitat restoration. The 800TURTLE (800 887853) hotline, the project’s dedicated toll-free number launched in October 2021 for members of the public to call in the event they encounter a distressed or injured sea turtle, will also be used in Fujairah. Callers will be directed to the Fujairah Research Centre to ensure aid is provided in an appropriate and timely manner.
On World Sea Turtle Day, a batch of 21 juvenile Hawksbill turtles and 5 young Green turtles – both of which are considered endangered species – were released from the beachfront under the watchful eye of the Group’s marine specialists, having been rescued, nurtured and rehabilitated at the Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Last month, the project also partnered with MS Porrima – the world’s first vessel that runs solely on renewable energy – to release an additional 10 sea turtles into the water by Jumeirah’s 2km private beachfront. These releases mark a total of 2,050 turtles successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released to date.
“We are delighted to share that most animals this year have come to us through the tollfree 800TURTLE number,” said Barbara Lang-Lenton Arrizabalaga Director of Aquarium at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. “This tells us that the community is engaged with what we’re doing and want to support. With the introduction of 800TURTLE, anyone who finds a sick or injured sea turtle can reach out to us on this number and our team will guide them through the correct process until we are able to get to the turtle and transport it to our facility. The hotline has been a great success and enabled us to respond and treat sick and injured sea turtles quickly and effectively. We are particularly grateful to our Project Ambassador Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan bin Khalid Al Qasimi who set 800TURTLE up last year and has donated a number of transmitters. He has been integral to the ongoing success of the project.”
In celebration of these magnificent creatures, community members who had rescued the released sea turtles, Dubai Holding’s group-wide sustainability project managers, champions and representatives, local media and in-house guests all participated in the heart-warming event. To support ongoing research and conservation efforts, one of the Green turtles was fitted with a top-of-the-range satellite transmitter, donated by the Dubai Mall Aquarium, to allow the team to track and capture key information. Recent data from previously tagged turtles, including ‘Nacar’, a large Loggerhead, and ‘Farah’, a 20-year-old Green sea turtle, who were both released last year, has shown the incredible distances covered by these creatures, while demonstrating the importance of protected marine habitats for the UAE’s local sea turtle population.
“We can see from the tags that a number of turtles spend prolonged periods of time in protected areas, including Ras Al Hadd in Oman and a number of habitats in Abu Dhabi,” added Lang-Lenton Arrizabalaga. “These are critical for providing food and shelter for our sea turtles, and it is great to see the positive impact the UAE’s marine reserves are having on turtle rehabilitation.”
Jumeirah Group has been successfully tending to sick or injured sea turtles since the inception of its dedicated programme in 2004, in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office (WPO), the Dubai Falcon Hospital and the Dubai Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. With annual rescue figures averaging over 100 sea turtles, the most predominant species tended to in the facility include Hawksbill and Green turtles, while Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles are also occasionally brought in.