WORLD

In United Arab Emirates, struggling sea turtles get a helping hand

Jun 28, 2023, 8:21 PM

Members of the Wildlife Rescue program of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi carry a sea turtle to releas...

Members of the Wildlife Rescue program of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi carry a sea turtle to release on Saadiyat Island of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Scientists hope the turtle will thrive back in its natural habitat, joining about 500 sea turtles that have been rescued, rehabilitated and released since Abu Dhabi's Environment Agency (EAD) launched a program three years ago to aid turtles distressed by climate change and other issues. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The baby sea turtle flapped its flippers as it was lowered into the ocean, only to be pushed back ashore by the strong tide. It tried again, and this time it made it, swimming fast and deep into Persian Gulf waters lapping at a string of beachfront tourist resorts.

Scientists hope the turtle will thrive back in its natural habitat, joining about 500 sea turtles that have been rescued, rehabilitated and released since Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency launched a program three years ago to aid turtles distressed by climate change and other issues.

In the latest release in early June, about 80 turtles were carried to the water’s edge by members of the agency’s Wildlife Rescue Program, joined by members of the community. Many were outfitted with satellite tracking gear to help scientists better understand migration patterns and the success of rehabilitation methods.

Turtles have historically been hunted for their meat and eggs, with their shells used in jewelry. But plenty of manmade factors figure into a decline in all seven sea turtle species.

“We see issues such as plastic pollution causing harm, vessel strikes, nets causing them to be entangled in them, and coastal development, which reduces the amount of nesting habitat they have available,” says Hind al-Ameri, assistant scientist at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

Climate change is a big contributor, researchers say.

Warming oceans harm coral reefs, which turtles need to survive, and shift currents to expose turtles to new predators. Rising sea levels diminish the beaches where the turtles nest and lay their eggs.

Abu Dhabi’s isn’t the only agency in the Emirates focused on aiding sea turtles. Emirates Nature-WWF launched a pair of marine conservation initiatives more than a decade ago, studying the behavior of the hawksbill and green turtles in the region.

And the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has been helping sick and injured sea turtles for nearly two decades, rehabilitating and returning more than 2,000 turtles to the Persian Gulf in that time.

Scientists say they see evidence that the sea turtles are adapting to climate change.

Turtle gender is influenced by the temperature in which eggs develop, with warmer temperatures producing a higher ratio of female turtles. Al-Ameri said conditions in the United Arab Emirates have become so warm that the male population should be devastated — but it is healthy and reproducing.

“So it’s driving us to understand why our species are adapting the way they are and what it would mean in terms of climate change and would turtles be able to adapt to climate change in the future or not,” she said.

How the planet can limit global warming, and its damaging effects on sea turtles and the rest of the world, will be discussed at length in November when Dubai hosts the next United Nations summit on climate change.

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

World

Associated Press

US Coast Guard rescues 12 after cargo ship runs aground in US Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard said it rescued 12 people who abandoned a large cargo ship that ran aground near the U.S. Virgin Islands early Wednesday. The agency is investigating whether the incident caused any contamination, noting that the vessel was carrying some 13,000 gallons of fuel and 250 gallons […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

US officials to meet with counterparts in Mexico on drugs, arms trafficking and migration

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top officials from the Biden administration will visit Mexico on Wednesday to discuss shared security issues, foremost among them trafficking of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, but also arms trafficking and increasing migration. The latest round of the High-Level Security Dialogue brings together Blinken, […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Trio wins Nobel Prize in chemistry for work on quantum dots, used in electronics and medical imaging

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for their work on quantum dots — tiny particles just a few nanometers in diameter that can release very bright colored light and whose applications in everyday life include electronics and medical imaging. Moungi Bawendi, of MIT, Louis Brus, of Columbia University, and […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares are sharply lower, tracking a rates-driven tumble on Wall Street

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian markets were sharply lower on Wednesday after Wall Street tumbled as it focused on the downside of a surprisingly strong job market: the likelihood that interest rates will stay high. U.S. futures and oil prices edged lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index sank 2.3% to 30,526.88 and the Kospi in South Korea […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Shoppers flee major shopping mall in Bangkok after hearing what sounded like gunshots

BANGKOK (AP) — Hundreds of shoppers fled a major shopping mall in the center of the Thai capital Bangkok on Tuesday afternoon after what sounded like gunshots were heard inside. It was not immediately clear if shots had been fired, though police said there were injuries and some frightened shoppers were still hunkering down inside […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Trio wins Nobel Prize in physics for split-second glimpse of superfast spinning world of electrons

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for giving us the first split-second glimpse into the superfast world of spinning electrons, a field that could one day lead to better electronics or disease diagnoses. The award went to French-Swedish physicist Anne L’Huillier, French scientist Pierre Agostini and Hungarian-born Ferenc […]

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

In United Arab Emirates, struggling sea turtles get a helping hand