Every turtle species found today is either endangered, critically endangered, or vulnerable to extinction. Fortunately, there are many conservation and rehabilitation programs designed to save these indispensable animals from extinction. One program in particular, Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP), released 65 sea turtles back into the ocean on June 16 in celebration of World Sea Turtle Day.
DTRP was established in 2004 after the Wildlife Protection Office identified a need for a turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility in the region. The project not only focuses on rehabilitating sick turtles, but also on educating the public on their biology and how their very existence is being threatened. Along with educating the public, DTRP monitors and tracks turtle movements throughout the region to better understand what can be done to help them.
Since DTRP’s inception, a total of approximately 2,000 sea turtles have been released back into the ocean. Although there are many groups around the world with similar missions, it is currently the only organization in the Middle East and Red Sea region that is consistently rehabilitating sick and injured turtles that wash up on the shore.
This recovery process is not easy and can oftentimes be heart-breaking. Sea turtles will be brought in with injuries and illnesses due to entanglement in waste, ingestion of plastic, or even heavy barnacle growth. While DTRP does everything it can to help the turtles recover, they are sometimes too sick and weak to survive. However, turtles that are strong enough to make a full recovery spend time at the facility and receive ongoing examinations and care before re-entering their natural habitat.
As the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project and others like it continue to grow and improve, it is important to understand how we, as people, factor into the equation. Educating ourselves and those around us on the effects we have on wildlife is extremely important and can serve as the catalyst for change these beautiful creatures have long deserved.