New directions in turtle race
Competition in the Great Gulf Turtle Race is heating up - and 7DAYS’ Al Bahar is getting back on track after a slow start.
There are 28 Hawksbill turtles competing in the race, which kicked off earlier this month and whichever turtle travels the furthest by July 12 will be declared the winner.
The sea creatures’ movements are being monitored through satellite tracking devices that have been attached to their shells humanely. The purpose of the race is to discover their migrating patterns so that the location of their feeding grounds can be discovered and protected.
Two weeks into the challenge and some patterns of behaviour have surfaced.
Lisa Perry, programmes director at EWS-WWF, which organises the race, explained: “Different turtles have different preferred foraging grounds where they feed regularly throughout the year - this is where they will be headed after they complete their nesting season and return once more to feed and restore energy levels after nesting.
“There is limited information about where they head to forage after nesting, which we call their ‘post-nesting migration’.”
She continued: “What is interesting is that some turtles, from different tagging locations, end up migrating to the same feeding grounds - and these are being identified as critical areas for conservation.”
7DAYS’ turtle Al Bahar is now in 24th place, having picked up some speed from last week, when she was plodding behind in second last position. Our turtle is no slouch, though, and it’s thought her slow but steady start may have been due to her nesting.
Perry said: “Because turtles can nest up to three or four times in a laying season, we can’t be sure exactly how many of our tagged turtles have nested again after they were tagged. Thanks to the tracking data we receive, however, we can identify those turtles who spent more time close to their tagging locations and so are more likely to have nested again.”
The race will provide vital information not just for UAE conservationists but for others across the region. “Since the project began, the majority of turtles we’ve tracked, other than those tagged in Oman, have crossed at least one international border,” Perry revealed.
“This is important because it highlights the importance of turtle conservation to be dealt with at regional levels and not just by individual countries.”
The race is not just all about speed and data collection, it’s also a popularity contest.
The turtles will be judged on their calls for world peace and dress sense - well maybe not, but you can vote for your favourite turtle.
We suggest you vote for our swimmer, Al Bahar. She’ll be chuffed if she wins the most popular category - because at this rate, she’s not likely to win for being the speediest.
To vote, go to www.gulfturtles.com/race
Distances travelled as of yesterday
1) Laura Bora - Sponsored by Gulftainer - 693km.
2) Murjana – Sponsored by Anonymous, 605km
3) Shelby – Sponsored by YPO, 604km
4) Qatarina – Sponsored by College of North Atlantic Qatar, 552km
5) Al Fareeda – Sponsored by DEWA, 524km
6) Athena – Sponsored by Deutsche Bank, 487km
Catching up with the rest, is 7DAYS’ Al Bahar who is in 25th in line, and has traveled a distance of 220km.
In the popularity race Laura Bora is also in the lead with 19,993 votes, followed by Shelby with 16,152 votes. To vote, visit www.gulfturtles.com/race