First Green Turtle Nests Discovered in Abu Dhabi

3 mins

While conducting their yearly turtle survey EAD conservationists discovered the green turtle nest in the Al Dhafra Region

The first ever nest of Green turtles has been identified in Abu Dhabi, on an offshore island location.

During its annual turtle survey, and as part of the marine assessment and conservation programme, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) recorded it at one of the Hawksbill turtle nesting sites in Al Dhafra Region.

Although Green turtles are found extensively in Abu Dhabi’s waters, nesting activity has never before been reported.

Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said, ‘During one of our nocturnal turtle surveys conducted this year, we spotted a Green sea turtle nesting at one of our core Hawksbill turtle nest locations.

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‘Abu Dhabi offshore islands are known Hawksbill turtle nesting sites, however, this discovery is considered an aberration and will be added to the sporadic records of Green turtle nesting behaviour in the UAE and in countries along the Arabian Gulf.’

The EAD said prior to the sighting no evidence has ever been found to suggest that the species have nested in any location within the emirate, as previous satellite tracking studies on Abu Dhabi’s Green turtles show most migrate to Oman to nest.

‘Unexpected’ Green Turtle Sighting

Al Hashmi added, ‘The island where the nest was seen is characterised by multiple, small pocket beaches separated by rocky outcrops – a contrast to Oman’s long and wide beaches where Green sea turtles nest in abundance, which is why this is an unexpected sighting.’

green turtle on beach

The survey also recorded a total of 247 Hawksbill turtle nests this year, in comparison to 193 nests in 2022, with a 72 per cent hatching success – a sign of this species’ population stability in Abu Dhabi waters.

Seven marine turtle species are found worldwide. Four can be spotted in Abu Dhabi’s waters, with a total population of more 6,000 individuals – two of which, the Hawksbill and Green turtle – are predominantly found, with two other species – the Loggerhead turtle and the Olive Ridley turtle – considered occasional visitors.

In Abu Dhabi, most Hawksbill and Green turtles have been spotted in the waters of Al Dhafra region between the islands of Abu Al Abyadh and Bu Tinah, and the waters bordering the islands of Al Yasat and Muhayimat. These areas offer extensive seagrass beds, marine algae, and coral reef habitats.

Nesting occurs from mid-March to mid-June, and more than 200 nests have been reported during nesting seasons. Hatching usually occurs between mid-June and early August.

The increased nesting and hatchling activity recorded during this year’s turtle survey provides further evidence of Abu Dhabi’s healthy marine ecosystems said the EAD. Their  Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Preservation and Rehabilitation Programmes has been naemed among the top ten global initiatives by the United Nations Environment Programme.

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