09 January 2009

Barnacle-infested Hawksbill turtles wash ashore at Dubai

With barnacles attached to their mouths, preventing them from breathing and feeding properly which can ultimately lead to their deaths, an unusual number of Hawksbill turtles have been found washed ashore at Dubai. In just 24 hours more than 12 hawksbill turtles were found along Dubai's coastline and were taken to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Unit.Marine turtles are "natural hosts to epibiotic organisms such as barnacles and algae", but typically not in such large amounts.

Residents urged to keep lookout for washed-up turtles on shores
Emmanuelle Landais, Gulfnews 8 Jan 09;
Dubai: Dubai residents are urged to be watchful of any washed-up turtles on the beaches and to call the Emirates Marine Environment Group (EMEG) should they come across the shelled creatures.

Hawksbill turtles have been found ashore with several types of marine organisms attached to their shells and plastrons.

In particular, barnacles have been found attached to their mouths, preventing them from breathing and feeding properly which can ultimately lead to their deaths. In just 24 hours more than 12 hawksbill turtles were found along Dubai's coastline and were taken to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Unit at Mina A'Salam run by the Burj Al Arab.

Rima Jabado, EMEG marine programme director said it remain relatively uncharted territory as to why so many hawksbill turtles were washing ashore at this time of the year.

Marine turtles are "natural hosts to epibiotic organisms such as barnacles and algae" she said, but typically not in such large amounts.

Hawksbill turtles are listed as 'critically endangered' on the IUCN Red List. They seem to be washing ashore throughout the months of January to April each year mainly along the coast of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Treatment

To promote the survival of this species, EMEG is making sure that turtles are collected and sent for treatment to the rehabilitation centre where they are monitored until they have fully recovered.

EMEG is appealing to the public to support their efforts to conserve marine turtles in the UAE.

To avoid potential harm to these turtles, EMEG has urged the public to kindly refrain from cleaning or attempting to remove any barnacles.

Do's and don'ts

* Don't clean the turtle
* Don't try to remove the barnacles
* Don't keep the turtle
* Do put it in a large enough cardboard or plastic box
* Do call EMEG as soon as possible
* IF you spot a turtle on the beach call EMEG on 04-363 05 81.

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