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Turtle lagoon to pave way for rehab centre

posted on 29/09/2011: 1925 views



A turtle lagoon in a large white dome which recreates Bu Tinah Island on the Corniche will lead to the establishment of the first Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi.

The one-and-half-month long exhibition of biodiversity on the Bu Tinah Island which is in the final race to become New Seven Wonders (NW7) of Nature, will open to the public tomorrow morning.

The endangered turtle species in the lagoon are part of a rehabilitation initiative during the exhibition aimed at rescuing injured animals and releasing them back.

It will also initiate the efforts to establish the first Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi, which will be the second one in the UAE, the senior officials of Environment Agency (EAD) told reporters yesterday.

Currently, the only Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in the country is in Dubai where injured or ill turtles from Abu Dhabi also get help or treatment, said Thabit Al Abdul Salam, director of EAD's Biodiversity Management Sector.

Conservation of turtles and dugongs is crucial to the survival of an ecosystem because they are called ‘indicator species' as they indicate the overall situation of the environment, Abdul Salam said.

Ecosystem

"By observing the dugongs and turtles you can know the problems in an ecosystem as they indicate everything," said Himansu Das, scientist at Biodiversity Management Marine Sector at the EAD. Eduardo Gonçalves, director, Environmental Awareness Sector at the EAD, said the details of the Turtles Rehabilitation Centre will be announced later as the project has not been finalised yet.

Abdul Salam said the stable population of dugongs and turtles in Abu Dhabi waters shows that marine ecosystem is properly protected.

There about 3,000 dugongs in Abu Dhabi waters, of which about 1,450 are around Bu Tinah island according to the aerial survey, he said.

The number of turtles range from 5,000 to 7,000 excluding hawksbill turtles which are not counted in aerial survey, the scientist said.

"We find about 200 hawksbill turtle nests every year," Das said. About seven turtles are currently being rehabilitated by the EAD. They were washed ashore after being injured by vessels or boats and fallen sick, they said.

About 100,000 people from across the UAE, mostly children, are expected to visit the white dome called the Bu Tinah Experience on the Corniche. They will become the ambassadors of environmental conservation, an official said.

"We are in touch with the Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Ministry of Education to arrange the visits of school pupils and university students to the dome," Gonçalves said.

Several biologists will be at hand to explain about biodiversity and endangered species, he said.

Timings

This dome will open to the public from tomorrow until November. Entrance to the dome — open every day from 10am to 10pm — is free.

How to vote for Bu Tinah Island?

Vote online at www.butinah.ae

Or send an SMS with the word ‘BU TINAH' to 3888. – Gulf News

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