The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project

Kuwait attends Goa turtle meet

May 9th, 2010

The 30th International Sea Turtle Symposium (ISTS) was held in Goa, India recently. Sea turtle conservationists, researchers, campaigners, educators and volunteers from all over the world met at the Kala Academy of Panaji, Goa’s capital, to discuss the latest scientific breakthroughs on sea turtle study and conservation, but also to meet, discuss and form networks in order to maximize efficiency and cooperation worldwide.

Unlikely human borders and barriers, marine life does not recognize any, so working together for the marine environment is of crucial importance. The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project, represented by its manager and a Senyar volunteer, was present at the ISTS with a poster presentation describing its mission and work within the three years of its wingspan.

The title of the presentation was: Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project and Senyar Volunteers: A Success Story, and it stressed out the first ever successful cooperation between a privately sponsored sea turtle conservation project and a strong local team of volunteers in a Gulf country. Kuwait hosts two species of nesting turtles, the Green and the Hawksbill. The occasional Loggerhead and Leatherback has been recorded in Kuwaiti waters over the years as well and indications of possible Loggerhead nesting were given by local populations and researchers several years ago.

The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project, sponsored by Total Foundation and Total Kuwait and under the auspices of the Voluntary Work Center of Kuwait (VWC), and The Scientific Center of Kuwait, began its research and conservation work on offshore islets Qaru and Umm Al-Maradim in July 2008. After two nesting seasons, the information gathered indicates that sea turtle populations are low in these areas and fluctuates from year to year. High temperatures in the summer, reaching up to 60 degrees Celsius are making the fieldwork challenging. Green turtles dig enormous pits to nest in and usually make several attempts before nesting. No information about hatching success yet, as the project’s is still in its beginnings. I-button-temperature and humidity loggers as well as and satellite tracking are part of the project.

Senyar, a long-term project of the Voluntary Work Center of Kuwait, was launched in 2004, entirely manned by volunteers and with the purpose of protecting the marine environment of Kuwait. Volunteering for the environment is not a known value in this geographical region and Kuwait’s Voluntary Work Center initially inspired many years ago from the invasions in the country, is a pioneering institution in inspiring volunteerism in an Arabian Gulf country.

Senyar is one of the teams of the VWC and has inspired over fifty male and female Kuwaitis to enroll and work as one on an ambitious artificial reef project, a mooring buoy project, cleanup beach projects, a search and recovery project, specialized advanced diving missions (from trained commercial divers who are volunteers) and active participation at the protection and rescue of marine life. Emergency missions are also organized in support of the government when an environmental crisis occurs.
KTCP is operating under the umbrella of Senyar and members of the Senyar team are also active members of the turtle conservation project team. It is hoped that after KTCP delivers its results in one year from now, its work will be continued and enhanced by Senyar.

By Nancy Papathanasopoulou – Arab Times

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