Fuwairit Beach will reopen to the public on 1 August  2017, after the end of the nesting season of sea turtles. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) announced that the nesting season 2017 has witnessed a remarkable success with the addition of 52 new nests this season. 

Barring two nests where hatching could not take place for natural reasons, hatching has completed successfully in all the other nests with the rate of hatching exceeding 80 percent. More than 3,000 turtles were released into the sea this season.

In addition, the research team at the Hawksbill Sea Turtle protection programme have gained significant practical experience benefiting from the participation and supervision of specialists from the Centre for Environmental Sciences at Qatar University.

According to the report, Identification of Important Sea Turtle Areas (ITAs) for hawksbill turtles in the Arabian Region, in Qatar, at least 100 hawksbill turtles nest annually at Fuwairit, Ras Laffan, Halul and in other seaside areas outside of Doha. Tracks from 90 post-nesting turtles (65 in the Gulf and 25 from Oman) revealed that hawksbills in the Arabian region may nest up to six times in a season with an average of three nests per turtle. Turtles from Qatar, Iran and the UAE generally migrated south and southwest to waters shared by the UAE and Qatar. A smaller number of turtles migrated northward towards Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and one reached Kuwait.

Hawksbill turtles are commonly found in the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They avoid deep waters, preferring coastlines where sponges are abundant and sandy nesting sites are within reach. Compared with other sea turtles, hawksbills are not particularly large and can grow up to about 45 inches (114 centimeters) in shell length, weighing 150 pounds (68 kg). They are normally found near reefs rich in the sponges, which hawksbills like to feed on. They are omnivorous and will also eat mollusks, marine algae, crustaceans, sea urchins, fish, and jellyfish. Although their hard shells protect them from many predators, hawksbills still fall prey to large fish, sharks, crocodiles, octopuses, and humans.

According to the National Geographic, Like many sea turtles, hawksbills are a critically endangered species mostly due to human impact. Their eggs are still eaten around the world despite the turtle’s international protected status, and they are often killed for their flesh and shells. Hawksbills are also threatened by accidental capture in fishing nets.

For more information and updates, check out the Facebook pages – Qatar Turtle Watch or Entalek​.

For more information on the Qatar’s natural world, check out Marhaba’s Guide to the Natural World and Nature Reserves in Qatar.

References: Qatar Tribune, Gulf Times

Featured image: Capture from Marhaba map of Qatar. Grab a copy of the latest Marhaba, available in the market from next week, for the updated map of Qatar.