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Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project released 30 sea turtles back into their natural habitat

Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah released 30 sea turtles into the Arabian Gulf on June 1-th, World Sea Turtle Day, resulting in nearly 2,000 successfully rehabilitated sea turtles since 2004.

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort prioritises eco-conscious practices and responsible tourism to raise awareness and protect declining sea turtle population, supporting the rehabilitation of 250 juvenile Hawksbill turtles and helping over 700 hatchlings since 2018. 

The animals had been cleared for release following an extensive recovery period, accompanied by regular check-ups, monitoring of progress and medical care where necessary. The Hawksbill, Green, and Loggerhead turtles were released from Jumeirah Al Naseem in Dubai, in the presence of media representatives and in-house guests, and under the watchful eye of the project experts.

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. In light of the threats they face worldwide, due to loss of habitat, poaching, over-exploitation and pollution, Jumeirah is fighting back and scaling up efforts to combat their declining presence. The Group has been tending to sick or injured sea turtles since the inception of its dedicated programme in 2004, in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, the Dubai Falcon Hospital and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. To date almost 2000 turtles have been returned safely to the Arabian Gulf, with annual rescue figures averaging over 100 turtles. Of the species tended to in the facility, the Hawksbill and Green turtles are the most predominant, while Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles are also occasionally brought in.

Conservation efforts are also well underway in Abu Dhabi at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. The team, led by the resort`s Marine and Environment Manager, take measures to drive awareness of single use plastic, protect turtle nests and hatching sites and preserve their natural habitat on Saadiyat Island’s protected beaches. The resort has successfully rescued and assisted in the rehabilitation of 250 juvenile Hawksbill turtles and has helped over 700 hatchlings make their way safely to the sea since its opening in 2018.

The turtles released this year by the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, were each given extensive care through a comprehensive programme of veterinary examinations, administration of medication, surgical care where needed and consistent monitoring. Their injuries and cause for rehabilitation are due to cold-stunning during winter (a life-threatening reaction experienced by turtles when exposed to cold water for prolonged periods), plastic ingestion or injuries requiring surgery. Once all treatments have been completed, the team then relocate the animals to the Turtle Lagoon at Jumeirah Al Naseem, to ensure their sustained positive progress, as part of the final stage of their rehabilitation.

Our efforts in this space are extremely important and in-line with the mandate of the National Plan of Action for the Conservation of Marine Turtles in the UAE. Through our work with these majestic animals, we remain in complete support of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s initiatives to further protect these creatures that are essential to the local natural ecosystem. The Hawksbills in particular play an irreplaceable role within the wider coral reef health. It is imperative that we continue to rehabilitate and protect these turtles, especially as they are faced with increasing threats to their nests, juveniles, and adults, causing rapidly declining numbers.

At the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, we follow a well-organised process, encompassing critical care, followed by time spent in a state-of-the-art, sea-fed turtle rehabilitation lagoon, where the animals can reacquaint themselves with the marine environment they are used to, prior to release.

Barbara Lang-Lenton Arrizabalaga, Director of Aquarium at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

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