Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has produced a new feature documentary entitled Wild Abu Dhabi: The Turtles of Al Dhafra, which was screened for the first time today, Tuesday, 26 January, at VOX Cinemas at Yas Mall. And Team Yalla was there!
The film showcases the groundbreaking work of the EAD team who are dedicated to studying turtles in the hottest sea in the world, the Arabian Gulf, also known as the world’s natural climate change laboratory.
The insightful documentary took two years to film.
Abu Dhabi is home to two of the seven species of turtles found on the planet – both of which are threatened – the critically endangered Hawksbills, and the endangered giant Green turtles.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has been working on the protection of sea turtles since its establishment 25 years ago as part of its mandate, which is dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity and endangered species of all kinds in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi has a stable population of around 5,500 sea turtles, including 1,500 critically endangered Hawksbill turtles, which nest on offshore islands in the waters of Al Dhafra.
There are also 3,500 endangered Green Turtles, which forage on Abu Dhabi’s seagrass rich waters, including in a core area of the Marawah Protected Area.
The monitoring efforts undertaken by the agency indicate that there are more than 150 nests per year for the Hawksbill turtles on the islands and the main coast of the Emirate.
Most of the nests are located in the six marine reserves that are part of the Zayed Protected Areas Network, which includes 19 terrestrial and marine protected areas.
By collaborating with the Emirates Nature-WWF, EAD has succeeded in placing tracking devices on 36 green turtles that do not nest in the Emirate’s waters, to discover their nesting areas.
This study revealed the path of their journey from feeding areas on Bu Tinah Island in Abu Dhabi to nesting areas in the Sultanate of Oman. The turtles then return back to their natural habitat on Bu Tinah Island.
EAD named two of the turtles after the late Sheikh Zayed’s values: “wisdom” and “respect” who crossed more than 10,000 km from the waters of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, passing through two countries (Pakistan and Iran) before reaching the Sultanate of Oman to nest. Following this they returned to Bu Tina again.
Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD said: “Despite being a challenging feat, with some parts filmed during the height of summer, the creation of Wild Abu Dhabi: The Turtles of Al Dhafra was an extremely memorable experience and one that has enabled us to present to the public how our team researches the turtles that reside in Abu Dhabi waters.
The data gathered during the making of the film will help propel our efforts forward, especially in preserving these endangered species – which is at the forefront of what EAD strives to achieve as part of its integrated strategy to preserve and manage biodiversity in a sustainable manner.
This is put into action by setting up conservation programmes for endangered terrestrial and marine species, management of protected areas and preserving natural habitats.”