A Green turtle is released off the waters of Bu Tinah Island Image Credit: EAD

Abu Dhabi: Four endangered Green turtles were captured, tagged and released off Bu Tinah Island, an internationally recognised sanctuary for turtles in the Indian Ocean and a haven for some of Abu Dhabi’s most amazing creatures.

The initiative was part of marking the Year of Zayed in 2018 and to help promote the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s values, said a press release issued by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

Each of the four turtles released represents the values of Wisdom, Respect, Sustainability and Human Development, which are celebrated during the Year of Zayed.

Razan Al Mubarak and EAD's Maitha Al Hameli setting the transmitter on the turtle.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the EAD, who participated in the initiative, attached a satellite transmitter to each of the turtles and obtained tissue samples (DNA), 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 and 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 with the team from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

Al Mubarak said the marine environment held an emotional value to Shaikh Zayed. “He considered it as a treasured part of our heritage, our present and our future. Since its establishment, the EAD has worked to preserve Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy and we will continue to do so,” she said.

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.

Razan Al Mubarak with one of the turtles before release.

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 Shaikh 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.’