Endangered turtles released off Bu Tinah Island
25 April 2018

Endangered turtles released off Bu Tinah Island

ABU DHABI, 25th April, 2018 (WAM) -- As part of marking the 'Year of Zayed' in 2018, the Secretary-General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, participated in the capturing, tagging and releasing of four endangered Green turtles off Bu Tinah Island, an internationally recognised sanctuary for turtles in the Indian Ocean and prime real estate for some of Abu Dhabi’s most amazing creatures. Each of the four turtles released represents one of the values celebrated during this Year of Zayed. The values are Wisdom, Respect, Sustainability and Human Development. This was done to help promote the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s values that continue to live on through the generations. Before releasing the turtles, Al Mubarak attached a satellite transmitter to each of them and obtained DNA tissue samples, which will then be analysed to better understand the feeding and nesting turtle populations of Abu Dhabi. Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, two predominantly occur in Abu Dhabi’s waters: the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle and the endangered Green turtle. These two species extensively use Abu Dhabi’s waters for foraging, i.e. food and one species, the hawksbill, nests on the sandy beaches of several offshore islands. Turtles and their habitats are key indicators of the health of the environment, but at the local and regional level, the number of foraging habitats and nesting grounds are continually declining due to an increase in urbanisation and industrialisation. Razan Al Mubarak said, "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, was considered one of the world’s greatest conservationists. His environmental vision long preceded the present-day global conservationists' movement, and his passion for nature was unparalleled. The marine environment, in particular, held an emotional value to him. He considered it a treasured part of our heritage, our present and our future." She continued, "Under his leadership, some of the most impactful wildlife release programmes in the world became a reality. Examples of this include the Sheikh Mohammed Arabian Oryx Release Programme and the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme, both of which EAD has been continuing to run for several years. Since its establishment, EAD has worked to preserve Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy, and we will continue to do so." The tagging and release took place on Bu Tinah Island, which is also home to coral reefs, dugongs, natural mangroves, dolphins, ospreys and Socotra cormorants. Located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region, the island lies within the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, the region’s largest and first UNESCO-designated marine biosphere reserve and one of the 19 protected areas under the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network. The Island received international fame in 2011, thanks to the diversity of wildlife that exists on it and the ability of these different organisms to survive under extreme temperature and salinity but also after it managed to be a finalist in a global competition entitled ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature.’