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Arabella’s blog – Looking out for sea turtles in Abu Dhabi

Our Roots & Shoots team in Abu Dhabi have just partnered with Arabella Willing, and she’s got a rather amazing job. She’ll be posting regular updates on our Roots & Shoots Abu Dhabi website, and we thought you’d be interested to hear what she gets up to as well!

“Hi there!

My name is Arabella Willing and I have a pretty unusual job. I work as the resident marine biologist at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas and my purpose is to study and protect the marine life in Abu Dhabi, particularly the hawksbill turtles which nest on Saadiyat Island.   I’ll be keeping a blog so you can find out what the sea creatures are up to.

Sea turtle eggs!
Sea turtle eggs!


Sea turtles spend most of their life at sea, but come to shore to lay their eggs during the summer months and everyone’s favourite reptiles have been gracing the shores of Saadiyat Island again this summer.

In the dead of night on the 8th of May a mother turtle crawled up Saadiyat beach and laid a nest of eggs. She used her front flippers to haul herself over the sand and dig the “body pit” and her hind flippers to carve out the egg chamber. Once all of her eggs were deep in the sandy hole, she crawled a little way out of the pit and used her front flippers to flick sand behind her to cover up her precious eggs.   

Can you spot the tracks of the mother turtle?
Can you spot the tracks of the mother turtle?

She returned to the sea under the cover of darkness and the following morning we spotted the tell-tale signs in the sand. The tracks look like big tire marks with a disturbed area of sand at the end.  We fenced off the entire area to prevent people from walking over the nest, and if everything goes OK with the development of the embryos, the baby turtles will emerge at the beginning of July.”

Look out for more updates from Arabella in the future, and find out more about the sea turtles that live along the coast of Abu Dhabi by having a look at one of the Roots & Shoots Abu Dhabi activities.

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