In celebration of World Sea Turtle Day 2023, Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has released 15 Hawksbill and 6 Green Turtles – both of which are considered endangered species – from its Jumeirah Al Naseem beach.
The release marks the day set aside to honour the importance of these magnificent creatures and their vital role in the balance of marine habitats, as well as to raise awareness of the conservation of declining sea turtle populations.
Among the successfully rehabilitated turtles were one large female green turtle which had suffered carapace damage due to a boat strike, as well as a male hawksbill turtle named Zippy.
Zippy was rescued by the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) in October 2022, after being found in bad shape floating near the Ras al Khaimah shoreline and reported via the 800 TURTLE helpline. Zippy suffered with intestine impaction from eating plastic debris, a severe lung infection and was completely covered in barnacles. DTRP works tirelessly to save endangered turtle species such as the hawksbill turtle, which, although critically endangered, nests every year in this coast of the Gulf.
The event was hosted by Katerina Giannouka, Chief Executive Officer at Jumeirah Group, and was attended by DTRP Project Ambassador His Excellency Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Bin Khalid Al Qasimi, as well as key partners including Government representatives, academia and NGOs. Also in attendance were representatives from Yas Sea World Research and Rescue, who performed a CT scan on Zippy at the start of his remarkable rehabilitation journey.
Data from the satellite tagging programme run by DTRP also show how the project’s efforts are impacting the global turtle population, with the team recently tracking a rescued Olive Ridley turtle, which are occasionally found in UAE waters, back to key nesting sites for the species in India. Previous data has also shown a green turtle migrating as far as Thailand, demonstrating the importance of rehabilitation and release to maintaining sea turtle populations worldwide.
Jumeirah Group has been successfully tending to sick or injured sea turtles since the inception of its dedicated programme in 2004, in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office (WPO), the Dubai Falcon Hospital and the Dubai Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. With annual rescue figures averaging over 100 sea turtles, the most predominant species tended to in the facility include Hawksbill and Green turtles, while Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles are occasionally brought in.
The project runs an educational programme for school groups to learn more about the work undertaken at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, the importance of these incredible creatures and the threats they face in their survival. Taking place between October and April, over 1,700 school children from all seven emirates have participated this season. Hotel guests and visitors can also learn more about sea turtles and their conservation, witness their recovery and even participate in feeding at dedicated, state-of-the-art sea-fed turtle lagoon at Jumeirah Al Naseem.