Scientists are puzzled over the record number of mostly endangered Hawksbill turtles being admitted to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. The 210 turtles that have been brought in for treatment significantly exceeds the numbers received in previous years. While the cause for this increase is unclear, it appears that with coral reefs that nurture turtle food in drastic decline, the sick reptiles are not able to acquire sufficient food.
Though it is not unusual for the turtles to be washed ashore during winter, Kevin Highland with The Wildlife Protection Office told The National that this past January, 45 animals were found on one day alone.
When Dr. Ulrich Wernery – Scientific Director of Central Vet Research Lab (CVRL) performed autopsies on several turtles, he found that apart from having no food in their intestines, there was nothing wrong with them.
Hawksbill turtles typically feed on sea sponges and jellyfish, which require healthy coral reefs for survival.
Highland also suggests that the reason for surge in admissions could be the increased awareness of where to take injured turtles.
The rehabilitation project is a joint effort between The Wildlife Protection Office and Jumeirah’s Aquarium team, which together have released 110 recovered turtles since 1996.
:: The National
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