Green turtle from Kalba tracked for 500 km

By Eudore R. Chand

SHARJAH 20 April 2020: A green turtle from the Al Qurm Protected Area south of Kalba, on the UAE’s East Coast, has been tracked by satellite for over 500 kilometres, Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), announced yesterday.

The turtle is one of nine young turtles fitted with satellite tags by the EPAA in November and December last year. Khor Kalba mangroves are believed to be home to a population of around 150 juvenile turtles, but where they feed and swim in the coastal zone is unknown.

Most of the nine turtles have spent almost of their time in the mangrove reserve. Green turtles feed on a diet rich in marine plants, algae and prey such as squid and small fish, said Wam.

One of the nine, however, named ‘Khor Kalba 1’, stayed for three months in Kalba, then exploring north and south before swimming out of UAE waters on 17th March, 2020.

The latest satellite data, on 15th April, showed that ‘Khor Kalba 1’ had travelled 500 km from Kalba and has now passed the Omani capital city of Muscat, the EPAA Chairperson, Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, said.

“The Authority is taking all the precautionary measures to protect these group of turtles from extinction,” Al Suwaidi added. “The Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, has listed a special strategy to safeguard these species. Kalba is possibly the most important area on the UAE’s East Coast for young green turtles to feed and grow before joining adult breeding populations.”

Studies over the last three years by the EPAA, carried out in collaboration with Emirates Nature – WWF, are focusing on understanding threats to survival, habitat use and priority coastal areas for conservation on the Gulf of Oman coast.

The study was the first of its kind to have been undertaken on the UAE’s Gulf of Oman coast.