Olive Ridley sea turtle found nesting in UAE for first time

A hatchling was seen crawling towards the ocean in Sharjah

A species of sea turtle has nested in the UAE for the first time.

An Olive Ridley hatchling was seen crawling towards the ocean from the beach of Kalba Kingfisher Lodge in Sharjah.

Olive Ridley turtles are the second smallest of the sea turtle species and are primarily found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Hana Al Suwaidi, of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) in Sharjah, said she had received several photographs of the young sea turtle.

“Our team has located several tracks on the middle and upper part of the beach leading them to conclude that multiple turtles did successfully hatch and make it to the sea,” she said.

Olive Ridley sea turtles grow to about two feet in length and can live for 50 years. Their shells are heart-shaped and rounded.

The area of their newly identified nest site is part of a 500 hectare nature reserve created in 2012 by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah.

Up until now, only Green and Hawksbill sea turtles have been recorded nesting in the UAE.

While all sea turtles are considered under threat due to human activity, Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered.

The reason sea turtles are threatened is due to a range of factors including the collection of their eggs, accidental capture in fishing gear, vessel strikes and marine debris ingestion.

Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, thanked the staff of the EPAA for their ongoing efforts to protect wildlife and natural habitat.

“The events which took place today, thanks to the relentless efforts of the EPAA, reflect on Sharjah’s global status in restoring, preserving and protecting its rich natural habitat and infrastructure," he said.

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