UAE National Day Celebrations – Releasing Turtles at Madinat Jumeirah
This is my ninth National Day living in the UAE, and every year the celebrations have gotten more and more impressive, from classic car displays, fireworks and parades through to aerial shows, marine processions and horse shows. I think I’ve experienced each of these celebrations over the years and have always found them to be a lot of fun and a great demonstration of national pride and solidarity – something I feel privileged to be a part of.
This year however I was invited to be part of one of the more unique celebrations – the release of 44 rehabilitated turtles (44 to commemorate the 44th National Day) back to the wild from Al Qasr beach at Madinat Jumeirah.
The turtles have all been rescued from UAE waters and cared for by the Burj Al Arab’s aquarium team as part of the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project based at the hotel. The critically endangered hawksbill and endangered green sea turtles were all juveniles and the hope is that they will speedily make their way back to their breeding grounds around the globe.
It was incredibly moving to watch the little mites drag themselves to the water, knowing they have suffered so much and were now returning home. A lot of the injuries are ‘man-made’, from getting entangled in plastic packaging, and eating plastic rubbish, or wounded by passing speed boats. A more natural and unfortunately very common sickness arises from abnormally heavy barnacle growth on the shell, making it harder for them to rise to the surface and breath, this comes as a result of the cooler winter sea temperatures when the cold-blooded turtles cannot swim so fast.
The project is one that I am very familiar with having spent a number of years managing communications for Jumeirah Group. Marine life is particularly close to my heart so I worked closely with The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project and the Dubai Wildlife Protection Office over the years. The project has been running for 11 years and has so far seen the release of over 844 rescued turtles back into Dubai’s waters. They not only rescue, rehabilitate and release sick or injured turtles however, the project also aims to educate local children, citizens and international hotel guests about sea turtle biology and the local and global plight of the sea turtle. They have also implemented a very successful satellite tracking initiative which helps the team to understand the success of rehabilitation and to research turtle movements throughout the region and beyond.
It’s a fantastic project, and one of the longest standing corporate responsibility initiatives in the region. You can find out more information at www.jumeirah.com/turtles and you can see them in their shelled glory in the final stages of rehabilitation in the holding pen at Madinat Jumeirah.
As for me, I have plenty more National Day celebrations that I want to check out, so enjoy the long weekend all, I know I will!