Picture a sunny Dubai morning near a warm blue lagoon filled with rescued turtles, surrounded by the occasional desert breeze through the traditional Arabian buildings. This is the way I spent this morning and I would really encourage others to try this free and educational experience.
Enclosed within the beautiful Jumeirah Naseem hotel is the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) which is run by Jumeirah in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office. The recommended way to reach here is to park or arrive at Souk Al Madinat and take a 10 minute walk to the Naseem hotel.
Since 2004, an estimated 1000 turtles have been rehabilitated by the Jumeriah Group said one of the keen employees feeding the turtles on the day. Upon further discussion with the employee, I became aware that the two main species of turtles present at the lagoon are the Green turtle which are relatively larger in size and the Hawksbill turtles which are an endangered species. These turtles are mostly rescued by members of the public and brought to the Burj Al Arab aquarium or Wildlife protection office, where they are provided with the utmost care, medical aid and regular monitoring.
As I had timed my visit at around 11 am on a Wednesday, I was lucky to witness and be part of feeding the turtles. The turtles are fed a combination of fish and squid which are strewn across the water to minimize human interactions.
Present in the sanctuary were turtles who were too small, injured, missing a flipper or washed ashore and unable to migrate. All the articles and images seen online are starkly accurate, as there were turtles here which were seen with ingested plastic bags, other items such as helium balloons, often mistaken for jelly fish. Visiting the lagoon and seeing the wonderful creatures in close proximity, really highlighted the human effect of using plastic for me and put me off purchasing and disposing those items.
Educational and Raising Awareness
The project is therefore a great initiative to help turtle survival rates and educate individuals on the effects of plastic as well tips on helping stranded turtles on beaches. Once fully recovered, the turtles are released back into the ocean during the right season. The salt water lagoon reflects the ocean environment to ease the transition back into the ocean. The turtles are also fitted with satellite GPS trackers to monitor their movement while in the ocean for the first two years. This can be monitored by the interested parties online.
I would like to appreciate the great work done by the Dubai Rehabilitation Project team and their supporting organizations and definitely urge others to keep an eye out during the winter months for turtles on the beach and do bring them to the project team for proper care and support.
I really enjoyed my time and had a totally different marine experience within the metropolitan city of Dubai.