QU Environmental Science Center begins annual season to monitor rare sea turtle nesting


Doha: The Qatar University Environmental Science Center (QU) has launched the annual rare and threatened sea turtle nesting monitoring season for the 2021 season on the coasts and islands of Qatar, under works in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment funded by Qatar Petroleum, within the framework of the marine turtle protection project launched 19 years ago.

The nesting season for sea turtles typically begins on April 1 of each year, when turtles begin to lay their eggs on the northern shores of the state of Qatar, which is estimated to be between 75 and 100 eggs per shed.

Sea turtles represent one of the components of the rich ecosystem of the State of Qatar, and are an important partner in the ecological balance that harmonizes the requirements of urban and industrial development and the protection and maintenance of the environment, in addition to supporting biodiversity in these marine and coastal environments.

QU’s Environmental Science Center said the eggs are collected after the unloading process is complete and transferred to the Fuwairit or Ras Laffan reserves, while the eggs are left in their natural nests on the Qatari islands. such as Umm Tais Island, Ras Rakan Island, Shrao Island. and Halul Island, where the number of visitors to these islands is lower than the coastal beaches.

The Center said that over the past 19 years, it has conducted numerous studies related to turtles and their nesting areas in the form of annual reports or scientific research published in annual international scientific books. Recently, the Center conducted a study on hawksbill turtles and the effect of climate change, including increasing temperatures on hatching and gender processes as high temperature in nests leads, for example, to increased temperature. number of males and a decrease in the number of females.

The Center also carried out a turtle tracing study in the territorial waters of the State of Qatar and the Gulf, which involves placing tracing devices to know their areas of concentration and feeding until they are found. return to other seasons on the beaches of Qatar.

These studies are part of the turtle care and protection project, confirmed the Center, which helps to strengthen the ecosystem and create a kind of balance between urban and industrial development and the protection and maintenance of the environment, in addition to supporting biodiversity in these marine environments. and coastal environments.

The Director of the Environmental Science Center at QU Dr. Hamad Al Saad Al Kuwari said that QU, represented by the Center, is proud of its long experience in the protection of the marine environment, and turtles are one of them. . This is reflected in its own database, he noted, in addition to the long experience of scientific and technical researchers that has been gained over the past two decades, indicating that interest is increasing daily by the Center regarding the dangers turtles face in the Gulf and around the world.

He added that although at present it is not fully understood the roles that sea turtles have played in the past centuries in ecological balance, one of the main tasks of the Center is to closely monitor these turtles and collect more information and data about them.

Dr Al Kuwari explained that the in-depth study of turtles helps to better understand these roles by identifying the structure and functions that have been lost in marine ecosystems, the environmental impacts of their remaining groups and their role in the ecosystem, as well as monitoring the importance of the management, protection and periodic control measures necessary to achieve the levels that maintain their viability and what are the improvements in ecosystem health that could contribute to the restoration of the populations of the sea ​​turtles.

Dr Al Kuwari pointed out that the information currently available indicates that sea turtles play an important role in the marine ecosystem. He cited green turtles as an example. which have an important role in the ecological balance through their exploitation of algae for food, and hawksbill turtles have an important role in coral reefs by feeding on certain invertebrate organisms of these reefs. This preserves the ecological balance of other wildlife and helps achieve a balance between food webs or chains and facilitates the natural cycling of nutrients in the marine environment, even turtle egg shells after the hatching season are one of the most important natural nutrients for the soil, he pointed out.

He said turtles play an important role in providing suitable housing for various marine organisms in the seagrass and coral reef environment, stressing that in-depth and ongoing studies will reveal many roles of turtles in protecting the sea. environment and maintaining the ecological environment. balance. (AQN)

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