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Three Hawksbill turtles satellite tagged in Kuwait for the first time – Follow them online

16/06/2010 12:02:34

Nada, a Hawksbill turtle, with a satellite tag. Credit Ali Alhafez/KTCP

Hawksbill turtle conservation
By Nancy Papathanasopoulou, Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project,

June 2010. The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project (KTCP - has been studying sea turtle populations on islets Garouh and Umm Al-Maradim since June 2008. In addition to night and morning surveys for nesting females, diving and snorkelling expeditions in search for foraging and mating individuals from April to October, KTCP is planning a satellite telemetry project. It is hoped that this will establish migratory routes of two nesting species, Hawksbill and Green turtles. As Hawksbills are the first to nest in the season (May and June), KTCP team members, in cooperation with Mr Alan F. Rees of the University of Exeter, UK, travelled to islands Umm Al-Maradim and Garouh with the purpose of attaching satellite transmitters on turtles encountered there.

Satellite transmitters
Within a few hours on the night of the 24th of May, two Hawksbill females crawled out of the water on to the south beach of the island to dig a nest in which to lay eggs. Despite a fierce sandstorm which made things difficult, KTCP team members successfully attached satellite transmitters on both turtles and released them back into the sea in the late hours of the night. The first turtle, which they named Nada, measured about a metre in length and the second one, Dareen, was smaller and measured about 80 centimetres in total.

Dareen had not nested when intercepted by the tagging team, but came out to nest successfully the following night, with her transmitter still safely on her carapace.

Third turtle
In Garouh a few days later, on the quiet evening of June 29th and at very low tide, another small Hawksbill turtle crawled out of the water in front of the Coast Guard station to look for an appropriate place to nest. She changed her mind and as she was returning to the water, the KTCP team attached a third satellite transmitter on her. Najat, this third turtle, was seen attempting to nest the night after she was tagged and finally came and laid her eggs in a shallow nest in front of the Coast Guard Station.

Satellite tracking is an important tool for
researchers to acquire knowledge on these
animals' migrations. Credit Ali Alhafez/KTCP

Fourth turtle had been hit by a boat
A fourth turtle was encountered on Garouh the night before Najat was tagged, but the team only attached flipper tags on her and not a satellite transmitter, as the animal had a large crack on her shell, most likely due to an unpleasant encounter with a fast moving vessel (boat or jet ski).

Satellite tracking
Satellite tracking is one of the most important and significant tools for researchers to acquire knowledge on these animals' migrations. Tracking the movements of turtles throughout the planet's seas and oceans contributes to improving conservation strategies and understanding characteristics of the ocean itself wherever turtles go. This invaluable information may not only improve turtle conservation but also the conservation of fisheries and coral reefs. 

KTCP will continue its mission on Garooh and Umm Al-Maradim islets throughout the summer, tagging turtles with flipper and satellite tags.

Follow the tagged turtles online - Adopt a turtle
Click here to follow the three Kuwaiti Hawksbill turtles' online. If you wish, you can also "adopt" the animal of your choice, thus contributing actively to satellite tracking efforts in Kuwait.

Apart from the dedication and expert skills of the KTCP team, a very special thanks should be attributed to His Excellency the Assistant Undersecretary of Border Security Affairs, Major General Mohammed Yousef Al-Sabah for his enthusiastic and precious support as well as to all Coast Guard Officers and personnel in Khairan, Garouh and Umm Al-Maradim for their friendship and help. Without them, the project would never be able to achieve its goals.

The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project is sponsored by TOTAL Foundation and TOTAL Kuwait and in cooperation with the Voluntary Work Center and the Scientific Center

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