Like people, Hawksbill turtles aren’t all domestic homebodies. Some – like me – prefer a more nomadic lifestyle. At least, this is what researchers have discovered Hawksbill turtles in the Persian Gulf. In recent years, the Hawksbill’s population has declined by 80%. In order to protect remaining turtles, the Emirate Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF), in conjunction with the Marine Research Foundation (MRF), began tracking their movements – with some startling results.
Six months after EWS-WWF researchers began tagging Hawksbills in the Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Iran, they have released remarkable data that will ultimately help governments understand their conservation requirements.
In addition to mapping 6,500 locations where the turtles nest and forage, it was discovered that some of them traveled up to 20km a day, non-stop for two months, until they found appropriate feeding grounds 1,000 km away.
Several turtles traveled more than 5,000km during the time that researchers tracked their movements.
Emirate Hawksbills tend to prefer their home base and rarely travel beyond their nests. The waters off Abu Dhabi, Ajman, and Sharjah are particularly important and should receive a lot of protection
One Omani turtle ventured into the Gulf, a previously unheard of move, given that turtles superior size to Gulf turtles.
The Qatari turtles are a little more adventurous. One landed up off the coast of Bahrain, while another went as four as the southwest corner of the Gulf. The other two Qatari turtles preferred to stay at home.
The greatest explorers were the Iranian turtles, which sought out either small or larger reefs near Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE. Scientists have not offered any explanation.
In time the consortium hopes to tag 75% of the Emirate and Gulf turtles, but they are seeking assistance. Contact the Marine Turtle Conservation Trust for more information about how to help the turtles or to track them.
More on turtles and other marine conservation initiatives:
image via prilfish