Follow Tootsie the Time Out turtle in the Great Gulf Turtle Race!
The project is being run by Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF, part of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project launched in April 2010 to pinpoint the migration patterns and locate feeding grounds in the Gulf of the hawksbill turtle using satellite tracking technology.
Hawksbill turtles are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Harvesting eggs at nesting beaches, loss of adequate nesting habitats, incidental mortality due to marine fisheries and degradation of marine habitats all contribute to the massive decline in marine turtle populations around the world. There is little data on marine turtles in the waters surrounding the Arabian Peninsula, and even less is known about their migration patterns and foraging grounds.
Satellite transmitters are fitted to the top of the turtle’s shell in a painless process and secured using a combination of fibreglass and resin. The transmitter sends a signal when the turtle surfaces to breathe giving the EWS-WWF conservation team the location of that turtle on a map.
It’s hoped that the outcome of the project will lead to conservation policies and plans to manage areas essential for the turtles’ survival. The project aims to raise awareness of the needs of these animals at regional levels, identify their foraging grounds and share tracking data with relevant authorities to contribute to the development of a regional marine turtle conservation plan.
The Great Gulf Turtle Race was launched in 2011 and it returns once again this year. In a light-hearted bid to increase interest around these beautiful creatures and the plight they face, the turtle race will plot the number of kilometres the satellite-tagged turtles in the Gulf have swum. As 28 Hawksbill turtles from this year’s tagging enter the Great Gulf Turtle Race, they will be competing to become the furthest travelled turtle and the most popular turtle.