Our turtle team has just commenced the 2012 tagging trips in the Gulf as we enter the third year of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project, during which we aim to tag 31 post-nesting Hawksbills this year.
From our 2011 cohort of turtles, 10 transmitters are still sending signals: Rayhana, who was tagged in Oman, has been sending us signals for more than 377 days, exceeding expectations and specs from manufacturer. Meanwhile two turtles tagged in 2010, Helia (Iran) and 52982 (UAE) are still sending signals exceeding 700 days of transmission.
Our findings from the first two years of our tracking programme are already offering valuable information on the turtles’ behaviour and important areas favoured by them in need of protection such as waters off the cost of Abu Dhabi, the northern and southwest waters of Qatar and the Abu Ali peninsula in Saudi Arabia. The satellite transmitters enabled us to chart their migratory paths and allowed us to estimate the time they spent migrating after nesting.
One interesting and unexpected findings so far is the recording of a temporary shift of the turtles to northern waters of the Gulf during the summer months when the temperatures peaked. We are eager to see if this third year of research confirms this behavior pattern as a result of short climatic events.
Given the common trans-border movements of turtles, this research reinforces the need for a regional approach to conservation, which is why we have been working closely with our partners in Oman, Iran, Qatar and the UAE and will continue to strengthen our partnerships in the coming year.
We would like to thank the 2010 and 2011 sponsors for their generous donations towards the project, without which it would have been immensely difficult to offset the costs associated with tagging the turtles. Without these tagged turtles, we would not have sufficient data to chart their migratory routes and identify their foraging grounds regionally.
We sincerely hope you will continue tracking our turtles’ journeys and keeping abreast of the latest developments from the Marine Turtle Conservation Project throughout 2012