Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | When a baby sea turtle is lowered into the sea, it flaps its flippers, only to be pushed back ashore by the rough tide. It tried again, and this time it succeeded, swimming fast into the depths of the Persian Gulf waters, lapping a series of seaside resorts.
Scientists hope the sea turtle will thrive in its natural habitat, joining a number of animals who have been rescued, rehabilitated and released since the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency launched a program three years ago to help sea turtles afflicted by climate change and other issues. A procession of about 500 turtles.
In a recent release in early June, members of the agency’s wildlife rescue program joined community members to bring about 80 turtles to the water’s edge. Many are equipped with satellite tracking devices to help scientists better understand migration patterns and the success of rehabilitation methods.
Turtles have historically been hunted for their meat and eggs, and their shells were used to make jewelry. But a number of human factors have contributed to the declines in all seven species of sea turtles.
“We’re seeing plastic pollution causing injuries, boats hitting them, fishing nets causing them to become entangled, and coastal development reducing their available nesting habitat,” said Hind al-Ameri, an assistant scientist at the Ministry of Environment. Abu Dhabi Agency.
Climate change is an important factor, the researchers say.
Warming oceans damage the coral reefs that sea turtles depend on and alter ocean currents, exposing them to new predators. Rising sea levels have reduced the number of beaches where sea turtles nest and lay their eggs.
Abu Dhabi is not the only institution in the UAE dedicated to aiding sea turtles. Emirates Wildlife Fund – WWF launched two marine conservation initiatives more than a decade ago to study the behavior of hawksbill and green sea turtles in the region.
The Dubai Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Project has been helping sick and injured sea turtles for nearly two decades, rehabilitating and returning more than 2,000 sea turtles to the Persian Gulf.
Scientists say they see evidence that sea turtles are adapting to climate change.
The sex of sea turtles is affected by the temperature of egg development, with the higher the temperature, the higher the proportion of female sea turtles. Al-Ameri said the climate in the United Arab Emirates had become so warm that the male population should have been severely damaged, but the male population was healthy and able to reproduce.
“So this drives us to understand why our species are adapting the way they do, what that means for climate change, and whether sea turtles will be able to adapt to climate change in the future,” she said.
How the planet can limit global warming and its devastating effects on sea turtles and the rest of the world will be discussed in detail when Dubai hosts the next UN climate change summit in November.
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