Just in time for World Turtle Day, marked on 23rd May, the results of an ongoing research project have been revealed that show the collaborative efforts needed to protect an endangered species in Abu Dhabi and further afield.
Through the Gulf Green Turtle Conservation Project, Emirates Nature-WWF and its partners – Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Marine Research Foundation – have tagged 36 turtles using satellite transmitters. Three of the turtles were tracked from their feeding grounds at Bu Tinah Island – a protected archipelago and important turtle sanctuary located 150km off the coast of Abu Dhabi – to Oman, where the turtles mated and nested before heading back to Bu Tinah Island.
The findings show that protecting the turtles is a shared responsibility between nations and underscores the importance of preserving the marine ecosystem that turtles and other species rely on.
“Being long-living animals, turtles are indicators of the status of the marine environment and require long-term strategies that can benefit other animals, habitats and human wellbeing,” Jimena Rodriguez, manager of the Gulf Green Turtle Conservation Project at Emirates Nature-WWF, explained.
“By recording a complete migration loop, we were able to better understand green turtles’ ecological and conservation needs, and the importance of the UAE as being a critical feeding site. By protecting turtles, we can contribute to greater conservation wins and marine stability in the UAE and region.”
In the past century, green turtle populations have dropped by 50 to 70 percent worldwide. Locally, the species has become vulnerable due to coastal development that impacts habitats, entanglement in discarded fishing nets, marine pollution and climate change.