UAE | Environment

Inspectors save 11 hawksbill turtles covered in sea debris

Municipality aims to raise awareness among public

  • Staff Report
  • Published: 00:00 April 1, 2011
  • Gulf News

Rescue efforts
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Dubai Municipality handed over the rescued turtles to a specialised centre to conduct tests in preparation for their rehabilitation and release to their natural habitat.

Dubai: Young Hawksbill turtles, covered in different types of sea waste, were found on the shores of Dubai recently.

Inspectors of the Marine Environment and Wildlife Section of Dubai Municipality rescued 11 young Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) of length 3-5 inches and weighing 50-150 grams. They were found during the inspectors' daily patrols of coastal areas.

Most of their [turtles] body parts were covered in different types of sea waste which hindered their movement and also resulting in malnutrition.

Special centre

Dubai Municipality handed over the turtles to a specialised centre to conduct required tests as a preparation for its rehabilitation and then to release them back to their habitat.

"The Hawksbill Sea turtles are highly migratory species. They travel through the oceans of the world frequently and this migratory behaviour has made it harder for policy makers to make laws to stop hunting them. As they migrate often, they have become shared resources among nations. If one country makes law to save the Hawksbill Sea Turtles another country hunts them. It is hard to enforce the law to save the Hawksbill turtles. This has given poachers the chance to hunt them and trade them which is the main reason for their rapid decline," said Mohammad Abdul Rahman Hassan, Head of Marine Environment and Wildlife Section. "This beautiful creature has a long history. Many years ago they were found in abundance around the world. But they are now in such a condition that some years later you might need to go to museums to find them instead of sea shores, even not live turtles, rather their bones and carapace."

Hassan said: "The impact of our reckless activities is pushing the environment to its extreme conditions. Imbalance among the elements of the environment has been prevailing around us. So first our duty is to create awareness among all to take care of the elements of the environment and save it."

Dubai Municipality officials in the Marine Environment and Wildlife Section can be contacted during working hours on phone numbers: 04-6826/606 6822 or after working hours in the emergency number 800 900.

Sand temperature factor

Adult hawksbill turtles can grow up to 1 metre in length and weigh about 80kg on average. The heaviest hawksbill ever captured weighed 127kg.

The turtle's shell, or carapace, has an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled brown colours radiating to the sides. The hawksbill turtle has several characteristics that distinguish it from other sea turtle species.

Studies have determined that the sand temperature during incubation determines the sex of the sea turtle. Warmer temperatures will result in a greater proportion of female hatchlings, whereas cooler temperatures will produce a larger number of male hatchlings. After mating, females drag their heavy bodies high onto the beach during the night. The female then lays a clutch of eggs and covers them with sand. This is the only time that hawksbill turtles leave the ocean. It is thought that sea turtles may live for more than 60 years.

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