Results of the Gulf Green Turtle Project show turtles on the move

By Mona Möller
Emirates Nature-WWF

This article highlights two scientific publications resulting from the Gulf Green Turtle Project:

Combining laparoscopy and satellite tracking: Successful round-trip tracking of female green turtles from feeding areas to nesting grounds and back

As iconic migratory species, there is critical importance in understanding the connectivity between sea turtle foraging and nesting areas, in order to ensure effective conservation planning and threat mitigation. The publication, “Combining laparoscopy and satellite tracking: Successful round-trip tracking of female green turtles from feeding areas to nesting grounds and back” details the first-ever recorded successful round-trip migrations of three green sea turtles in the Arabian region. These turtles were tracked from foraging areas in the Abu Dhabi island of Bu Tinah, UAE to a nesting site in Ras Al Hadd, Oman and back, including an interpretation of reproductive behaviour through our unique approach. By using multiple scientific methods including laparoscopy as a diagnostic tool to determine sex and reproductive state, and satellite tracking, these results support the development of local and regional conservation strategies, population assessments, and the reduction of threats turtles face at sea. We studied and successfully linked habitat connectivity between foraging areas and nesting sites and hope our approach can support future tracking of sea turtles.

These results came from the Gulf Green Turtle Project, a four-year project completed in 2019 by Emirates Nature-WWF in collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the Environment Protection and Development Authority of Ras Al Khaimah, and the Marine Research Foundation.

The publication of the round-trip tracking and some of our project findings can be found here.

Movements of green turtles from foraging areas of the United Arab Emirates: regional habitat connectivity and use of marine protected areas

A recent publication on the “Movements of green turtles from foraging areas of the United Arab Emirates: regional habitat connectivity and use of marine protected areas”, showcases the results of the Gulf Green Turtle Project which ran from 2016 to 2019, led by Emirates Nature-WWF and in collaboration with the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the Environment Protection and Development Authority of Ras Al Khaimah, and the Marine Research Foundation.

By tracking 45 adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) from foraging areas in the UAE and using a combined methodology of laparoscopy and satellite tracking, linkages between two foraging areas in the UAE with key nesting sites were established, with one take-way including that turtles foraging in Bu Tinah, UAE use Ras Al Hadd in Oman as their primary nesting destination. The findings would help inform local and regional management conservation strategies, support population assessments, and manage threats. This project complements a previous and similar 4-year study (2010-2013) on hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) - some results here.

Insights into breeding migration routes, foraging behaviour, and the effectiveness of marine protected areas for green turtles were also established in the publication. Further, the data from this study may contribute to specific and effective national and international initiatives for conservation and management practices within the Arabian region.

The publication can be found here.

Last updated on 10 February 2021

Type: 
News
Country: 
United Arab Emirates
Species: 
Chelonia mydas
Species group: 
Reptiles