Releasing Rehabilitated Hawksbill Turtles

EMEG Environmental Day Event

I did not originally have any plans for environmental day in June this year but after coming across the EMEG Turtle release and clean up event that weekend I was quite excited and keen on participating.

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The Emirates Marine Environmental Group are an NGO based in Dubai to address environmental issues pertaining to the land and water. The Environmental Day event was open for all and organized on a Friday morning, making it convenient for everyone to join in and volunteer. The event was planned to start with turtle release at 7:30 a.m, followed by a beach clean-up and mangrove planting in the reserve.

My Experience

I usually like to sleep in on weekends but waking up early and driving to the Ghantoot Reserve for this event was so worth it. The EMEG reserve is around a 30-minute drive from Dubai city, easy to navigate with Google maps or with boards guiding you to an off the road track to reach the reserve.

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With the sun shining bright, we signed up upon arrival and walked through the IMG-20160603-WA0007soft beach sand, crossing a small wooden bridge to be received by a view of infinite cool blue water. It was overwhelming to see numerous couples, children, volunteer groups and individuals already waiting on the beach, keen to volunteer for the day.

EMEG collaborated with the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project for this event, a group involved in protecting the turtle species in Dubai. We then gathered around the beach with fascination to watch as the Hawksbill turtles were gently carried from the boxes and placed onto the shorelines. It was a great experience to be up close and watch the turtles, recovered from their injuries and ready to go back into the sea. I was captivated by the smaller turtles who were slowly gathering their surroundings, before flapping their way leisurely from the sands of the beach, to be welcomed into the arms of the water.

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The Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbills are omnivorous sea turtles which are smaller in size when compared to other turtles and mainly found in tropical waters. On closer look you realize the shape of these turtles’ head resemble a beak with a sharp end point, leading this species being names Hawksbill.

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Interesting Fact: Hawksbill Turtles’ outer shells are heart shaped when young and elongate as they grow

Unfortunately, these turtles are critically endangered due to over-exploitation for their meat and shells as well reduction in tropical beach spaces to serve as their nesting grounds. The next time you come across an injured turtle on the beach, please call the local concerned authorities and refrain from buying products made from turtle shells to help protect this beautiful species.

If you would like to read more on the Hawksbill Turtles: National Geographic

 

 

 

 

 

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