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United Arab Emirates: Rare green turtle nest spotted for the first time in Abu Dhabi – News


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Published: Monday, February 19, 2024, 3:47 p.m.

A nest of green turtles, classified as an endangered species, was discovered for the first time in the capital, announced the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD).

During its annual turtle survey and as part of the marine conservation and assessment programme, the EAD recorded the rare sighting at one of the main hawksbill turtle nesting sites in the Al Dhafra region.

Although green turtles are widely found in Abu Dhabi waters, nesting activity has never been reported before.

Ahmed Al Hashmi, executive director of EAD’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector, said the nest was found during one of the nighttime turtle surveys.

“Abu Dhabi’s coastal islands are known nesting sites for hawksbill turtles; however, this discovery is considered an aberration and will add to sporadic records of green turtle nesting behavior in the United Arab Emirates and neighboring countries. along the Arabian Gulf,” Al Hashmi said.

In Abu Dhabi, most hawksbill and green turtles have been sighted in the waters of the Al Dhafra region, 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, kelp and coral reef habitats.

“We normally carry out annual monitoring of all recognized and potential nesting areas, and although green turtles forage extensively in Abu Dhabi seagrasses, no evidence has ever been found to suggest they have nested anywhere else within the emirate of Abu Dhabi. “We have also seen in previous satellite tracking studies of Abu Dhabi green turtles that most have migrated to Oman to nest before returning to our waters.”

More than 6,000 turtles

Nesting takes place between mid-March and mid-June and typically more than 200 nests are reported during the season. Hatching usually occurs between mid-June and early August. Females are selective in choosing their nesting site and have often been seen hanging out on a beach for several consecutive nights before finding an ideal spot with soft sand, away from human activity.

“The island where the nest was seen is characterized by multiple small beaches separated by rocky outcrops, in contrast to the long, wide beaches of Oman, where green sea turtles nest in abundance, so this is an unexpected sighting, but EAD is compromised. to continue exhaustive monitoring of all confirmed and potential beaches to detect similar events.”

There are seven species of sea turtles found throughout the world. Four species can be observed in the waters of Abu Dhabi, with a total population of more than 6,000 individuals, two of which, the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle, are predominantly found here, and two other species, the loggerhead turtle, are considered and the olive ridley turtle. occasional visitors.

The increase in nesting and breeding activity recorded during the study provides further evidence of Abu Dhabi’s healthy marine ecosystems and reinforces the effectiveness of EAD’s strong marine environment protection and rehabilitation policies and its efforts to establish and manage nature reserves. through the Sheikh Zayed Protection Areas Network. Its six marine reserves represent 14 percent of the emirate’s marine environment area and contribute to preserving the biodiversity and stability of important species in Abu Dhabi.


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