Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project

September 6th 2016


Dubai’s tourism has reached its peak and isn’t showing any signs of going down anytime soon. With the establishment of the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, tourists now have a chance to explore and take part in the conservation and protection of the species in the area and around the world.


Thought to be a beloved species, 7 types of marine turtles are on the brink of extinction and vulnerable to the changes occurring in their natural habitat, which have been brought on by man. This means that it’s us, who should work to protect the marine turtles that are left behind and provide them with the habitat to grow and expand in numbers. 


A recent study performed on over 400 sea turtles has shown alarming trends in disappearance of UAE sea turtles. Scientists and biologists have uncovered that the hawksbill sea turtles are at great risk of extinction unless efforts are taken to conserve marine life. Sea turtles are frequently washed ashore on Dubai beaches and due to severe dehydration, they need to be rehabilitated in large numbers. Furthermore, the study reported a lack of genetic diversity among turtles because they were not moving from their nests along the sea waters.


The reports indicate that we need turtles for maintaining biodiversity. They help preserve coral reefs, fertilize beaches and control the number of jellyfish.


One of the factors that make turtles prone to extinction is our plastic consumption. Turtles have been found injured or sickened to death because of plastic in the seas. Only this year, over 300 sick turtles got washed ashore in UAE. When they have barnacles, you can tell that they are sick. In addition, rapid urbanization, influx of human populations, expanding industries and coastal projects are threatening the survival of turtles. A falling turtle population indicates declining health of the seas.


Since the turtle population in UAE has already fallen and there is a dearth of monitoring equipments, we need to invest more in research and development to acquire information. The entire community needs to take collaborative efforts for the preservation of our turtles. This is precisely why the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) is a much-needed initiative to preserve biodiversity.  



The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project

With its offices based at the Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah, the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project works in direct collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, and the Dubai Falcon Clinic; organizations that also provide important veterinary support to the Project. So far, the project has managed to treat over a hundred hawksbills and returned over 1000 turtles to the sea.


The Project has been in operation since the year 2004 and has worked to rescue and release a total number of 560 sea turtles back into the waters. Of course, the best treatment is also provided to any sick or injured turtles found washed up on the beaches.



 A Hawksbill Turtle swimming gracefully underwater

Established primarily by the Wildlife Protection Office, the project still works ardently to protect and conserve the different species of Dubai’s marine turtles.


The ultimate goal of the project is; to rescue, rehabilitate and then release the sick or injured sea turtles back into the waters of the region, after their due treatment and secondly, to educate the people about the local and global plight of the different marine species and understand their biology.


A conservationist working on the project stated that they were attempting to build hatcheries to increase the turtle population. Turtle eggs are placed in a hatchery as protection from humans and predators, and then released into the sea when they hatch after 45 days.


When sea turtles are found on the shores, they are usually sick, injured from consuming waste products, cold-stunned, trapped in fishing nets and on the verge of death. This slows down the turtles, resulting in dehydration and growth of barnacles, which further affects their movement. They cannot feed or swim and exposure to the sun threatens them more.


This year on Endangered Species Day, May 19, DTRP released 49 turtles in joint collaboration with stakeholders and public. The event also focused on the dangers that turtles are vulnerable to and how we should change our behaviors to preserve them.   


If people manage to find them alive, they are rehabilitated, treated and taken back to the sea. Since humans are imposing increasing dangers for wildlife, we should stop disposing garbage in the seas as the turtles mistake them for food. A few schools in Dubai, such as International School of Choueifat, have supported the initiative and participated in projects to eliminate waste on the beached of Dubai.


The project should not be just limited to schools. People on a larger scale need to take pro-active action to preserve marine life. We have a responsibility to protect marine life and keep our seas green. Without marine life, Dubai cannot thrive.  



Help With the Project’s Objectives by Saving the Marine Turtle You Come Across

If you come across turtles washed ashore, don’t just leave them behind. Get them rehabilitated.


To do this, you can contact the DTRP team, who are available every day of the year between 8 am to 6 pm through phone or email and the team will get in touch with you as soon as is possible!


In the meantime, you have to make sure that the turtle is comfortable by placing the little creature in shallow water at about 26 degrees Celsius, which will allow the turtle to lift its head easily and breathe. This will lessen your worry while waiting for the team to contact you back.


Please note that The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project is solely a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation project, which is why any enquiries relating to the caring of pets such as freshwater terrapins or land tortoises cannot be addressed.       


The boost to Dubai’s tourism is ever increasing, and now, with the help of Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, marine turtles too will have a chance at life again. For more information, you can call +971 4 3017198or leave a message via email at