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Mysterious tracks identified in 2011 as those of female Hawksbill Turtles visiting the Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) beach area to lay eggs has sparked a campaign to help protect one of the world’s most critically endangered sea species. The industrial flagship’s campaign has provided hundreds of fragile baby turtles a head-start in their already perilous life journey.
Upon discovery of the tracks, EMAL’s Emergency Response and Security (ERT) personnel marked and protected the nests, with 500 Hawksbill hatchlings emerging sixty days later. Steps were quickly taken to set up a ‘catch net’ system to help direct the turtles towards the sea. In addition, the beach area and nearby sea were cleared of debris, including discarded fishing nets and other marine flotsam; a campaign which is now conducted regularly.
EMAL President and CEO Mr Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei said: “’Protection of the environment’ is one of our core values and we are committed to ensuring there is a sustainable future for all the wildlife which share the habitat in the vicinity of the smelter. Having identified the beach as being crucial to the Hawksbill, we reacted immediately to ensure the hatchlings had the best chance of survival and took steps to improve the beach. This initiative is just one aspect of our overall environmental strategy designed to ensure a thriving natural world is available to future generations.”
EMAL has worked with experts from the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Dubai to identify the most effective way of supporting the turtles. In 2012, CCTV cameras with both day and night vision were installed to monitor activity on the beach. As well as recording females coming ashore to nest, the cameras also observed a wide variety of other wildlife such as gazelles, snakes, lizards and ospreys.
In addition to CCTV monitoring, EMAL also undertakes regular boat patrols and diving surveys. The surveys indicate that the immediate marine area is teeming with life, including dolphins, sharks and turtles regularly spotted in the sea, as well as local fish such as Hammour, Jish, Safi, Sichill and Hagool.
Al Mazrooei added: “We have attained a great deal of knowledge about the local fauna and flora in the area and intend to seek further advice about what more we can do to improve the environment further. As for the turtles there is still much more to learn and we will continue our efforts to give a helping hand to this threatened creature.”