By Ramola Talwar Badam
A loggerhead turtle called Joey had some tough records to beat when he set off along with six others from a Dubai beach on Thursday in this year’s turtle race.
Weighing in at 50 kilograms, Joey lumbered from the beach beside Mina A’Salam hotel and into the sea, playing his part in efforts to raise awareness of the rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles.
A satellite transmitter on his shell will track whether he travels farther than Storm, another loggerhead, who swam 5,098km last year.
Along with his six rivals in this year’s competition, five hawksbill turtles and another loggerhead, Joey will also have a shot at breaking the record set three years ago by Dibba, an 80kg green turtle who swam 8,700km in a year.
She travelled from the UAE’s eastern coast to Africa, then to the Maldives, across to Sri Lanka and on to the Andaman Islands, where her satellite transmitter stopped functioning.
More than 100 people, including dozens of children, gathered on the Dubai beach to watch as the turtles’ wooden pens were opened and they scuttled into the sea.
The event was part of a drive by the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) to return stranded turtles to the wild.
“I learnt that the turtles can be big, but they can also get hurt and they can get scared,” said Khamis Khalifa, 10, a grade-4 pupil at Al Shaab Primary.
“It has been interesting because I learnt that turtles can be eaten by other fish,” said Sultanate Khudaibergenova, 17, from Raffles World Academy.
“I thought their hard shells protected them. We will track them to see where they reach.”
Each of the seven turtles have been adopted by a different Jumeirah Group hotel. More....