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Natural UAE

Sea Turtles

Of the seven recognised species of marine turtles in the world, four occur in the waters of the UAE; the green turtle (Chelonia mydas ), the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata ), the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta ) and the huge leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea ). A fifth species, the olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea ) is known from neighbouring Oman and from Pakistan and India and is certainly a visitor to UAE waters from time to time. All five are listed as species endangered with extinction throughout their worldwide range. Two of the five, the green and hawksbill turtles nest on beaches in the UAE as well as feeding in UAE waters, and while little is known about the other three, the huge leatherback turtle, which may grow to an astonishing ten feet in length and weigh almost one thousand kilograms, has been seen on just a handful of occasions feeding on the vast seasonal abundance of jelly fish (the sole component of its diet) in Arabian Gulf waters. The loggerhead turtle has recently been confirmed to occur in the Arabian Gulf waters of UAE, but next to nothing is known about its status or distribution in this country. The olive ridley turtle has only twice been recorded in the UAE, but it nests in neighbouring Oman and also in India, where mass nesting in synchronised waves or 'Arribadas' sometimes includes tens of thousands of nesting turtles in a single season. Even if this species is unlikely to nest in the UAE, it is worth looking closely at the turtles you see as you may discover the occasional stray.

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