Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed and family help release sea turtles into Abu Dhabi waters

Reptiles were set free at Saadiyat Island

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Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, chairman of the board at Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, has helped to release sea turtles back into open waters.

Sheikh Hamdan and young family members witnessed the key work being carried out to boost the capital's marine ecosystem during the event at Saadiyat Island.

The sea turtles had been cared for under a rehabilitation scheme at the National Aquarium Abu Dhabi.

The agency is integral to a wider UAE drive to safeguard sea turtle populations.

One of the creatures was fitted with a satellite monitoring device to allow experts to collect data on its path and movements, and aid plans to further protect sea turtles.

Environment chiefs have regularly embraced technology in order to nurture nature.

Nearly all species of sea turtles are classed as endangered, highlighting the vital need to both protect and bolster their numbers through rehabilitation programmes.

In 2019, a study was released into the behaviour of green turtles in the Arabian Gulf.

According to data collected from 36 green turtles tagged with satellite transmitters, one undertook an eight-month epic journey to Oman via Iran and back to Abu Dhabi.

The project, which included the agency, Emirates Nature, WWF and the Marine Research Foundation, was established in 2016.

“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,” said Jimena Rodriguez, manager of the Gulf Green Turtle Conservation Project at Emirates Nature.

“By protecting turtles, we can contribute to greater conservation wins and marine stability in the UAE and region.”

UAE a natural home for sea turtles

Sea turtles can live to 100 years old, are long-distance travellers and many of the world’s species call the UAE their home.

The hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle and green turtle have settled in the Emirates, while the leatherback turtle and olive ridley sea turtle are migratory species.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, released several hatchlings in 2020, and he posted pictures of himself with some of the rehabilitated animals on World Sea Turtle Day that year.

Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi from Sharjah has also rescued two turtles, including one he named Farah, who had to have a flipper amputated after fishing wire cut into her limb.

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Programme at Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts seeks to reverse the decline of the species in the emirate's waters, and has rescued and rehabilitated almost 2,000 sea turtles since it was established in 2004.

Thirty sea turtles were returned to their natural habitat by marine biologists during the rehabilitation programme to mark World Sea Turtle Day — held every June 16 - last year.

Updated: June 10, 2022, 12:41 PM