Sea turtle rehabilitation programme to operate from capital’s National Aquarium
A turtle rehabilitation programme will be established at the National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi.
The programme, managed by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, will begin when the aquarium opens in the capital’s Al Qana development.
The project will run for at least five years.
“Having such facilities within the confines of Abu Dhabi will assist our continuous efforts to preserve wildlife in the emirate,” said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, the agency’s secretary general.
“By collaborating with the National Aquarium, we will be able to rehabilitate various wildlife species before releasing them into their natural habitats, while expanding our scientific studies.”
The aquarium will support the agency’s satellite tagging programme, research and data collection, offer internships for biology and veterinary students and promote educational experiences.
Its conservation programmes will focus on the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle.
“As far back as 2001, we have been working on conserving sea turtles in Abu Dhabi waters,” Dr Al Dhaheri said.
“Now, the overall foraging sea turtle populations, namely hawksbill and green turtles, have been relatively stable over the last decade. Based on data from aerial surveys, we have more than 5,000 wild sea turtles in our waters.”
The aquarium will provide veterinary support and inhouse care to injured marine animals until they can be released into the wild.
“Our daily lives have become disconnected from the natural world and, while we are slowly realising the impact that humans are having on the environment, there is still a long way to go to address these issues,” said Paul Hamilton, the aquarium’s general manager.
“That is why it is so important to reach new audiences and educate future generations about the importance of protecting and rehabilitating our wildlife and ecosystems.”
Wild sea turtles are among the most highly migratory animals on the planet and their populations are a reflection of the condition of marine environments.
Of the seven species of marine turtles, two are found in Abu Dhabi’s waters: the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green turtle.
The aquarium was scheduled to open early this year in Al Qana entertainment and dining development on Al Maqta Creek.
The aquarium, which spans more than 7,000 square metres, will be home to 33,000 marine creatures that will be cared for by a team of 80 sealife experts and specialists.
As well as focusing on the marine life of the UAE and Arabian Gulf, the aquarium will feature species from as far as the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The turtle rehabilitation programme is the latest in a series of environmental achievements for the emirate.
This week, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi was granted the ability to issue fines of up to Dh10 million for environmental breaches, instead of the previous cap of Dh10,000.
President Sheikh Khalifa also issued a law to regulate camel grazing in the emirate.
Camels can no longer graze within two kilometres of nature reserves, which will protect the desert’s ecosystem.
Meanwhile, officials discussed the introduction of an early warning system to spot locust swarms and protect agriculture and vegetation.
Turtle populations in Abu Dhabi’s waters have stabilised thanks to efforts by the emirate’s environmental agency