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The first release of young hawksbill turtles from the turtle reserve in Ras Laffan Industrial City | Qatar University

The first release of young hawksbill turtles from the turtle reserve in Ras Laffan Industrial City

Young hawksbill turtles

Since 2002, the Environmental Science Center at Qatar University (QU) has been engaged in monitoring and observing hawksbill turtles to safeguard the biodiversity of the State of Qatar. This initiative aims to mitigate the risk of extinction faced by these turtles, a global phenomenon affecting marine ecosystems worldwide. During a specific period annually, clusters of hawksbill turtles migrate to various northern beaches within the state to lay their eggs. This season typically commences in early April and extends until mid-June. The hatching season commences in early June, following a two-month incubation period after the nesting process.

Some of the most famous nesting beaches that are widely recognized include Fuwairit, Ras Laffan, Al-Maroonah, Al-Ghariya, Al-Huwaila, Al-Jassasiya, and Al-Mafyar Beach, in addition to certain islands such as Ras Rakn, Umm Tais, Sharaow, and Halul.

QU carries out this important initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and with funding from Qatar Energy, aiming to provide protection for sea turtles during nesting and hatching periods annually and establish nature reserves in Fuwairit and Ras Laffan.

The Ras Laffan Reserve is considered one of the most important natural reserves. As a result, Ras Lafan's beaches have become important areas for protecting turtles during nesting and hatching periods, offering protection for turtles, their eggs, and hatchlings from potential dangers posed by birds and foxes naturally present in the area.

One of Ras Laffan's notable features this year is the augmented count of hawksbill turtle nests and the commencement of hatching, which was observed three days ago. A significant quantity of young hawksbill turtles have been released from Ras Laffan’s shorelines, marking a pivotal moment in the rejuvenation of the hawksbill turtle population in Qatar's territorial waters and the Arabian Gulf. It also strengthens their presence and protects them from the threat of extinction.

Prof. Mariam Al-Ali Al-Maadeed, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at QU, emphasized the importance of the project, stating, “The University prioritizes environmental projects that contribute to preserving the ecosystem due to their importance in protecting the ecological balance. The Marine Turtle Protection Project is one of the most important projects aimed at protecting endangered hawksbill turtles.”

Prof. Hamad Al-Saad Al-Kuwari, Director of the Environmental Science Center, stated, “The Environmental Science Center at Qatar University has demonstrated its commitment to wildlife protection in the State of Qatar through successful hatching operations and an increase in the number of young turtles. These achievements reflect the Center's scientific and practical efforts and its collaboration with relevant authorities at the local, regional, and global levels. Promoting turtle conservation is imperative due to the threat of extinction these species face and acknowledging the significant role that turtles play in maintaining environmental balance.”