Great turtle race is on
Emirates Wildlife Society is tracking the journey of 22 turtles Discuss this article
- Picture 1 of 2
The race is on: on June 6, Emirates Wildlife Society released 22 hawksbill turtles into the wild as part of a five-week race to see which can travel the furthest. The turtles were located from the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Iran and by Emirates Wildlife Society and WWF, which equipped them with high-tech tracking systems so scientists can monitor their journeys, their breeding grounds and their resting places. We caught up with programme director Lisa Perry to find out about the environmental benefits of the project, as well as how you can track the turtles at home to see how they’re getting on.
What exactly is the Great Turtle Race?
The Marine Turtle Conservation Project was launched last year – it’s a three-year project focused around the hawksbill turtle, which is critically endangered. The project spans four countries – Oman, Iran, Qatar and the UAE – where we’ve located 24 turtles and tagged 22. At this point it’s all about science and research, identifying where they are going. We can track the migration to their feeding grounds and identify key areas in the region that are most in need of conservation. This year we want to spread more awareness of the project, not just within the scientific community. We’ve designed the Great Turtle Race as a fun way to tell people about what we’re doing – you don’t have to be a scientist to understand it. These transmitters tell us which turtle has travelled the furthest, and at the end of the five weeks we’ll see who’s won. We have turtle sponsors, and people vote for their favourite turtle on the website.
What can the turtles tell us about our environment?
There has been research done, but it’s very sporadic. We’re using the turtles to tell us which areas of the sea are being used, which is vital for the survival of the species. We can tell a lot about the health of these areas – whether there is food there and whether they are healthy foraging grounds.
So you’re pioneering ecological discoveries in the area?
It’s the first time such a large-scale project has taken place with more than one country involved – that’s why it is so important to have the government, NGOs and our sponsors on board. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do this.
Will you be able to identify problem areas in the sea?
We’ll see that turtles are not going to certain areas, prompting researchers to investigate those areas. Those spots will be interesting to watch.
It’s an expensive project, involving high-tech equipment and satellites. Tell us more about how it works.
The satellites feature a switch: when the turtle is underwater the battery automatically shuts off, then when it comes out of the water the switch reactivated and sends a signal to the satellite. It’s only when the turtle surfaces that the signal is switched back on. So if you have a particularly active turtle, which comes to the surface much quicker, we pay for it every time it transmits those signals. The cost of each turtle is approximately Dhs30,000, including the tracking, the device and the field work and time, but the research is priceless. The information is incredibly valuable – it will pay for itself, I’m sure. Most of the turtles are sponsored and have names – people can visit the website to see how the turtles are doing.
Which turtle do you think will win?
I really don’t know. It’s fair game right now, but the mileage is calculated at the end of each week so it will become more obvious who’s at an advantage as the weeks go on.
For more on the Great Turtle Race, and to track the progress of the participants, see www.gulfturtles.com
Time Out Dubai,
- Al Quoz(10)
- Arabian Ranches(2)
- Bur Dubai(8)
- Business Bay(7)
- Downtown Dubai(1)
- Dubai Investments Park(2)
- Dubai Marina(1)
- Emirates Hills(2)
- Festival City(1)
- Green Community(3)
- International City(2)
- Jebel Ali(1)
- Jumeirah Lakes Towers(2)
- Knowledge Village(3)
- Motor City(1)
- Nad Al Sheeba(1)
- Oud Metha(7)
- Sheikh Zayed Road(10)
Time Out Dubai Music & Nightlife Awards 2013 The best nightlife in Dubai revealed
Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013 Revealed: The best places to eat in Dubai
Most viewed groups
- Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs
- K9 Friends
- Make-A-Wish Foundation UAE
- Riding for the Disabled Association of Dubai
- Dubai Autism Centre
Our favourite features
101 best dishes of the year in Dubai Tastiest meals that have tickled Time Out’s taste buds in 2012
10 top Dubai beaches Grab your sunscreen and head for the city's best beach clubs
100 top brunches in Dubai Friday feasts plus evening and Saturday brunch for all wallets
55 ways to party in Dubai Celebrate our 11th birthday with an alternative activity
10 must-try nights in Dubai The ultimate checklist for the city’s party people
Best cupcakes in Dubai We give in to our cravings to taste the city’s sweetest offerings
15 Wi-Fi hotspots in Dubai Ditch the office in favour of these Wi-Fi cafés and venues in the city
24 top pizzas in Dubai We tuck into the city’s best slices of Italy
24-hour dining in Dubai We stay up to try 12 of the city's best round-the-clock eateries
Where to watch Premier League football in Dubai Great spots to catch the English Premier League soccer on TV
28 top Dubai takeaways We rate the city's best delivery food
Dubai's luxury hotel suites Live like a king at the city's most extravagant rooms
24 brunches to try in Dubai Time Outers share their favourite Friday feasts in the city
10 top Dubai breakfasts The best spots to enjoy the most important meal of the day
Pay less rent in Dubai The ultimate property guide to help you relocate and save cash