Dubai: Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has released 15 Hawksbill and 6 Green Turtles, both endangered species, in a demonstration of the city’s ongoing commitment to marine biodiversity and ecosystems. The release, which took place at Jumeirah Al Naseem beach, coincided with World Sea Turtle Day 2023 and highlighted the crucial role turtles play in maintaining the balance of marine habitats.
The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project is dedicated to preserving endangered turtle species, with a particular focus on the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, which nests along the Gulf Coast. Among the turtles released were a large female green turtle that had suffered carapace damage due to a boat strike, and a male hawksbill turtle named Zippy.
Zippy’s journey to rehabilitation began in October 2022 when he was found in a distressed state floating near the Ras al Khaimah shoreline and reported via the 800 TURTLE helpline. He had suffered intestine impaction from consuming plastic debris, a severe lung infection, and was covered in barnacles. The event was attended by government representatives, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and representatives from Yas Sea World Research and Rescue, who conducted a CT scan on Zippy at the start of his rehabilitation.
The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project’s satellite tagging program has provided valuable data on the project’s global impact on turtle populations. Notably, the team successfully tracked the journey of a rescued Olive Ridley turtle back to crucial nesting sites in India. Previous data has also shown a green turtle migrating as far as Thailand, highlighting the significance of rehabilitation and release in maintaining sea turtle populations worldwide.
In addition to its conservation efforts, Jumeirah Group recently hosted the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA) Ocean & Coastal Zones retreat, focusing on the importance of the ocean climate nexus for the hospitality sector. The event brought together climate champions, experts, and leaders to address this crucial issue.
Since its inception in 2004, Jumeirah Group has been caring for sick or injured sea turtles in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, the Dubai Falcon Hospital, and the Dubai Central Veterinary Research Laboratory. The project also runs an educational program for school groups, raising awareness about the work undertaken at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, the importance of turtles, and the threats they face. This season alone, over 1,700 school children from all seven emirates have participated in the program, furthering their understanding of these incredible creatures and the need for their protection.