Threats to Sea Turtles on the Persian Gulf Coast of the United Arab Emirates

Hollis-Anne Stewart

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Abstract / Description of output

On the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) , sea turtles are stranding. They have thrived for thousands of years in this unique ecosystem; however, the Persian Gulf is swiftly degrading. Anthropogenic factors, like rapid coastal development and marine pollution, are negatively affecting the marine environment. Sea turtle mortalities on this coastline are concerning, but our understanding of the causes is limited, as there has been little research on the
subject. This dissertation investigates the threats to sea turtles on the Persian Gulf coast of the UAE, through a retrospective review of data from three governmental agencies. Data of sea turtle admissions to Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, a rehabilitation facility, sea turtle stranding reports, from Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi, and marine turtle necropsy data, supplied by
Central Veterinary Research Laboratory was evaluated. Data results of the three facilities are as follows: Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project admitted 2179
live stranded turtles over a 9-year period (2010-2019). 92% of the admissions were hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and the release rate of total rehabilitated turtles was 90%. Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi, has a solid network of stakeholders monitoring the shores for stranded turtles, in Abu Dhabi. Over a 14-year period (2005-2019), 578 dead stranded sea turtles
were found. 37% of turtles were hawksbill turtles, while 64% were green turtles (Chelonia mydas). The most frequent cause of mortality was from illegal fishing nets (57%), and from vessel strikes (37%). 16-year (2003-2019) necropsy data from Central Veterinary Research Laboratory of 174 sea turtles, reported an almost equal amount of hawksbill turtles (50%) and green turtles (48%).
The most common cause of death reported was gastrointestinal related (44%), followed by bacterial infections (32%). The data from the aforementioned agencies provided insight into the causes of sea turtle mortalities, yet it was not conclusive. The dissertation illustrates the complexity of threats to marine turtles and the significant knowledge gaps. There is a need for additional research, active surveillance, and standardisation of data collection. Determining the drivers of sea turtle mortalities within the UAE will be useful in making constructive efforts to aid in their conservation on a local, national and regional level.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Cousquer, Glen, Supervisor
  • Bailey, Tom, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Turtles
  • Strandings
  • Threats
  • Persian Gulf


Dive into the research topics of 'Threats to Sea Turtles on the Persian Gulf Coast of the United Arab Emirates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this