“Our marine environment is a treasured part of our heritage, our past, our present and our future. It also holds an emotional value to us. By studying, monitoring and protecting marine endangered species, we are helping to preserve a key part of Abu Dhabi’s natural heritage for current and future generations,” said H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General at EAD.
“Turtles and their habitats are key indicators of the health of our environment, which must be protected to ensure the sustainable development of our Emirate. Our environment provides us with the natural resources needed to ensure the well-being of our community, now and in the future, and must therefore be well-managed and protected,” Al Mubarak added.
EAD’s Sea Turtle Conservation Programme was initiated in 1999. Aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.
The Agency, on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, is a member of the IO-SEA (Indian Ocean – South- East Asian) international agreement on Sea Turtle Conservation and Management. As part of its mandate, EAD ensures that Environmental Impact Assessment studies are carried out for any projects that may impact sea turtle habitats.
EAD regularly monitors the turtles’ nesting and foraging habitats – providing vital information on clutch size, incubation period, hatching success and nesting patterns. It also investigates the species’ main causes of mortality in the region which have been identified as drowning in abandoned or illegal fishing nets (48%) followed by boat strikes (25%). EAD collaborates with other organisations such as the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA), the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) and owners of private islands to enforce regulations under Federal Law No. 23 (1999) in order to protect turtle nesting and foraging habitats which fall under their jurisdiction.
Thabit Al Abdessalaam, Director of Biodiversity Management Sector, said: “Sea turtles have swum the Earth’s oceans for over 110 million years. They are among the most highly migratory animals on Earth and they are great indicators for the condition of our marine environments. This is why EAD and its partners have been studying and monitoring these endangered species since 1999. The research we have compiled so far has helped us identify important foraging areas for conservation.
“Raising awareness about these species is a priority for us and we are doing this through ‘The Environment Show with Ask Ali’ series, which will be available to the community at the ‘Bu Tinah Experience’ dome and via our YouTube channel,” said Khansa Al Blouki, Assistant Manager, Campaign Departments.
Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, two predominantly occur in Abu Dhabi’s waters: the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the endangered Green turtle (Cheloniamydas mydas). Worldwide, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the Hawksbill turtle as ‘critically endangered’.
In Abu Dhabi, most Hawksbill and Green turtles have been spotted in the waters between the islands of Abu Al Abyadh and Bu Tinah, as well as in the waters bordering the islands of Al Yasat and Muhayimat. These areas offer extensive seagrass beds, marine algae and coral reef habitats to the turtles. In Abu Dhabi, turtles nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June.
Visitors to the ‘Bu Tinah Experience’ dome on the Abu Dhabi Corniche from September 30 until November 13 can get a closer look at live turtles. The dome gives visitors a glimpse into what makes Bu Tinah Island and its species so unique. It is open every day from 10 am – 10 pm (2 pm – 10 pm on Fridays) and entrance is free for all.
Last night, H.E Dr. Daniel Wani, Southern Sudan Undersecretary for Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism visited the Bu Tinah Experience Dome and voted via SMS in a bid to support the campaign.
At the dome’s eco-cinema, visitors can view the first episode of ‘The Environment Show with Ask Ali’ series, which is dedicated to the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle. This episode contains extraordinary film footage of a Hawksbill turtle laying eggs on Bu Tinah Island, and of young hatchlings starting their epic journey of life in the Arabian Gulf. It also features EAD’s passionate Emirati biodiversity experts and marine protected area rangers as they carry out their daily work of protecting and conserving.
The episode will be playing from October 3 to October 8 from 10 am – 10 pm every 90 minutes. A new episode of the series will be screened each week at the ‘Experience Bu Tinah’ dome.
Tuesday, October 4- 2011 @ 14:22 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.