Meet “Turtle 1,000” 

The Wildlife Rescue Program, from The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and The National Aquarium has reached the milestone of 1,000 turtles rescued since its launch in 2020.

 They were friends with the dinosaurs, and they really don’t know how to come out of their shells, but the sea turtles are given a new lease of life with The Wildlife Rescue Program, from The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi (TNA). Starting the program in 2020, EAD is the region’s largest environmental regulator and along with TNA are set to reach the amazing milestone of rescuing 1,000 sea turtles in only four years. 

The first of its kind in the UAE, the Wildlife Rescue Program has increased its efforts to protect and conserve native wildlife in the UAE’s capital. Additional manpower and the construction of state-of-the-art facilities have been commissioned to support rescuing sea turtles in Abu Dhabi waters to streamline the rescue and rehabilitation processes for local wildlife.

The progress of Turtle 1,000 will be followed closely in an updated blog on TNA’s website and via social media platforms. Expert veterinarians will explain the animals’ rehabilitation processes. Once released back into the wild in the summer of 2024, Turtle 1000’s progress around the Arabian Gulf will be tracked by a satellite tag, with the turtle’s movements and positions shared weekly via the website.

For the occasion, Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said: “We are thrilled to have rescued 1,000 turtles in partnership with The National Aquarium, reinforcing Abu Dhabi’s position as a leader in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of flagship species in the emirate. With our years of experience in conservation, we are always striving to provide the most advanced care to our turtles so that they thrive in abundance until we release them back into their natural habitats. This ensures their numbers are stable and are thriving within the emirate’s waters reinforcing our vision for a sustainable future so that future generations live with plentiful numbers of marine species.”

The continuous success of the Wildlife Rescue Program is also largely dependent on the support of the general public – Hamilton urges anyone who encounters defenceless turtles to call the Wildlife Rescue Program helpline (800 555) and be a part of preserving the planet and its ecosystem for generations to come.

Throughout the program, guests who have visited TNA have been able to see the rehab process first-hand for many of these recently released turtles. Children who were part of TNA’s Junior Marine Biologist (JMB) Program, also got the chance to assist in their rehab process.

Four Turtally Awesome Facts

1. Turtles are old – they belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world – beating snakes, crocodiles and alligators!

2. Friends with the dinosaurs – Turtles date back over 200 million years ago – woah!

3. Come out of its shell? Contrary to popular belief, a turtle cannot come out of its shell. The turtle’s shell grows with them, so it’s impossible for them to grow too big for it!

4. What a turtle eats –  depends on the environment it lives in. Land-dwelling turtles will munch on beetles, fruit and grass, whereas sea dwellers will gobble everything from algae to squid and jellyfish.

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