Rescued loggerhead turtle to be released off Sharjah coast

The 86kg female has been looked after by conservationists since March

The turtle was rescued after being found emaciated and covered in barnacles. Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project.

A large loggerhead turtle is set to be released back into the sea by UAE conservationists this weekend.

The marine reptile, which now weighs 86 kilograms, was found in an “emaciated, barnacle-infested” state in March.

Since then, experts at Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project have been taking close care of the female during her long road to recovery.

She will be released back into the wild from the Kalba Corniche in Sharjah at 9.30am on Saturday.

“She is virtually unrecognisable from the emaciated, barnacle-infested animal that arrived on our doorstep,” said staff at the project.

“She is finally ready for release, and we will be releasing her at Corniche Kalba this coming Saturday, October 26.”

The loggerhead turtle is the world's largest hard-shelled turtle and can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.

It is classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global authority on protecting the natural world.

The average size of an adult loggerhead measures around 90 centimetres and the species has been known to weigh up to 135kg.

A spokesman for the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project said families were welcome to join them to watch the turtle’s release.

“The weather looks great, there is plenty of parking available, and there are lovely lawns and shaded areas should anyone want to have a picnic afterwards," he said.

“We will be at the release site from approximately 9am to interact and to answer any questions attendees may have prior to the release.

“As a very rare visitor to our shores, and with Oman having one of the world's largest populations of loggerhead turtles, we will release her on the east coast of the UAE where she will hopefully re-integrate into the wild population with ease.

“She will be fitted with a satellite tag so we can monitor her progress and gain further data on how rehabilitated animals reintegrate back into the wild as well as being able to follow her travels.”

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has released more than 1,600 turtles back into the wild since the project began in 2004.

Last March, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment revealed a three-year national plan to protect turtles that inhabit UAE waters.

The programme aims to expedite local laws to protect turtles while reducing the direct and indirect causes of their deaths.