The original guests of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island – the now critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles – continue to nest on the destination’s sweeping beachfront with the first of the season’s nests being spotted in conservation areas in front of the spectacular five-star The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort and the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas.
The nests, which can contain between 90 and 100 eggs, have been clearly marked to ensure hotel guests and staff don’t disturb them with hatching expected within 50-70 days
“The yearly return of the turtles is testament to the success of this conservation programme, which was designed to ensure that as hotels became operational on Saadiyat Beach, the turtles would continue to choose the island as their nesting ground,” said HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
The nests are now under the observation of Tourism Development & Investment Company’s (TDIC) environmental affairs team, as part of the company’s Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Programme, the only one of its kind in the Arabian Gulf.
This conservation programme, by Chairman, HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, clearly demonstrates that tourism assets can be developed without damaging the environment and conversely, can actually be used to protect a destination’s environmental assets.”
The nine kilometre Saadiyat Beach plays host to several Hawksbill turtle nests every year. The Hawksbill is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, as its population has declined by more than 80 per cent worldwide over the last three generations due to habitat destruction and poaching.
Since the monitoring programme began early 2010, some 650 eggs have hatched successfully on Saadiyat.
Operational guidelines further protect the nesting sites by restricting beach access to pedestrians who reach the beach via elevated boardwalks, which prevent people from walking through the delicate dune system and potentially disturbing the nests.