The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Centre helps save injured turtles
More than 210 sick or injured marine turtles have been received at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) since December, with up to 45 turtles on one day alone in January — the largest number of turtles by far that the project has received in any one season, due to the cold and stormy weather and increased public awareness.
The majority of the turtles that are getting stranded are critically endangered juvenile Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) which have seen a decline of 87 per cent in the global number of nesting females in the last three generations, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The project has also received an increased number of large green turtles.
The young Hawksbills have been washing up on the shore along the UAE coastline, some are injuries caused by entanglement or boat strikes, however the majority are sick rather than injured. Young turtles in particular suffer with the cold sea temperatures experienced within this region from December to February. As the temperature drops so does the metabolism of the turtle and with it, its ability to fight infection and remove parasites such as barnacles.
As the number of rehabilitating turtles has increased, the facilities have also had to increase. A second pre-release turtle holding pen has been constructed this month in the waterways of Madinat Jumeirah, next to The Wharf restaurant at Mina A' Salam. These large enclosures at the hotel allow the team to monitor the final stages of rehabilitation and feeding behaviour before the turtles are released back into UAE territorial waters. Jumeirah's Aquarium team also uses a dedicated section of Burj Al Arab's fish quarantine facilities as an intensive care recovery facility. Dubai's only turtle rehabilitation project is a collaboration between The Wildlife Protection Office and Jumeirah's Aquarium team, with essential veterinary support provided by Al Wasl Veterinary Clinic and Dubai Falcon Hospital, and laboratory work provided by the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. The project is currently the only one of its kind in the Middle East and Red Sea region.
The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has been running successfully since 2004 and is a collaborative effort of staff at Wildlife Protection Office and Burj Al Arab Aquarium. The project has seen the release of many rehabilitated turtles of which, to date two have been fitted with satellite transmitters to enable us to track their journey.
Our mission at the rehabilitation unit is:
- To rehabilitate sick and injured turtles and return them to their natural habitat.
- To assess turtle health and provide appropriate treatment.
- To raise awareness of the issues facing turtles and the marine environment.
- To gain a better understanding of turtle migration patterns and general biology through data collection and satellite tracking programme.
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