A Hawksbill turtle. Image Credit: Courtesy: EAD

Abu Dhabi: Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) released a batch of sea turtles into the sea at Al Hederyat Island today. The turtles are the first group of more than 150 sea turtles that will be gradually released into key marine areas in Abu Dhabi. The initiative was attended by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court. This drive is the largest of its kind in the region.

There are two types of sea turtles in Abu Dhabi, the Hawksbill Turtle and the Green Turtle — with an estimated count of 5,000 turtles.

The programme was also attended by Dr Mohammad Rashid Ahmad Al Hameli, the Secretary-General of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Director of the Ruler’s Representative Office in the Al Dhafra Region; and Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD.

The sea turtles were successfully rehabilitated after being rescued last year with the help of the public, seagoers, fishermen, EAD rangers and the strategic partners from government and private sectors, as well as other partners. Rehabilitation was conducted at the sea turtle’s rehabilitation centre in The National Aquarium, where they received advanced veterinary care and treated for ailments such as infection, diseases and injuries.

During the release, one of the turtle’s was named Al Hederyat, which refers to the Island where the turtles were released from. This particular turtle was selected to affix a satellite tracking system on its back for purposes of observation and monitoring to identify its habitats and feeding areas. The data will be used to enhance EAD’s efforts to set plans and programmes that will ensure the conservation of sea turtles and mitigate the risks they face.

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As part of its commitment towards protecting endangered species, EAD has been conducting research studies since 1999 to monitor and track sea turtles in order to protect them. Ongoing efforts resulted in maintaining the stability of turtle populations in the emirate over the past two decades.