Archive for the ‘The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project’ Category

Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project – About The Project

May 18, 2010

Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project:

Towards Research and Conservation

Kuwait hosts two species of nesting turtles on its offshore islands Qaru and Umm Al-Maradim. Green turtles and hawksbill turtles nest on one and the other respectively in different times of the year and their offspring emerge from the nests to reach the Gulf Waters and ensure the circle of life of a very important animal is ensured. Possible presence of the loggerhead and leatherback turtle is being researched. Environmental laws in Kuwait, as in many other countries, prohibit any sort of disturbance of these animals or their hatchlings.

But why is it important to protect sea turtles? Why are nations worldwide creating strict texts of conventions and legislations in a common effort beyond borders to ensure their survival? The answers are not difficult. Many decades of scientific research and constant monitoring have proven that:

Sea turtles are necessary for the survival of coral reefs worldwide. Without coral reefs, the degradation of all sorts of life in the oceans would be imminent and all forms of life in the ocean would become threatened or extinct. Fisheries worldwide would be gravely affected.
Sea turtles are responsible for the migrations of several hundred species of organisms, which attach themselves on the animal and “hitch a ride”. Without this means of transport, propagation and ecological processes of these organisms would stop, and this would have an impact on the ocean’s health and prosperity.
Sea turtles have existed for over a hundred million years, are an animal species that has survived all dramatic changes on earth and has an important role to fulfill, like all major species on the planet. Sea turtles have seen and lived with the dinosaurs. They have been great survivors of what eliminated the dinosaurs. Why have them vanish now, when preserving them seems to be a doable task? It would be a great blow to biodiversity on earth.
As with every animal species, protecting it during its whole cycle of life is essential. For turtles, feeding, mating and nesting grounds should be protected from degradation and elimination, and migratory routes should be studied in order to achieve some level of protection there as well.
Information and education on the importance of sea turtles and their marine environment have excellent short and long-term results for the conservation of the species.
The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project, launched in June 2008, is a common 3-year effort of TOTAL Foundation, TOTAL Kuwait, The Voluntary Work Center Kuwait and The Scientific Center Kuwait. Its main goals are enhancing awareness and knowledge regarding endangered sea turtles in the country, studying their populations on the offshore islands Kubbar, Qaru and Umm Al-Maradim, studying the state of the marine and coastal areas they are in, conducting environmental information and education, targeting groups of stakeholders and considering possible contribution to the legislative and institutional framework of sea turtles conservation in the country.



The Total Foundation is committed to philanthropic endeavours in three areas of activity:

– Community support, through two complementary programmes: partnering the Pasteur Institute to prevent pandemics in countries where the Group operates and fighting social exclusion, particularly from school, in France;

– Culture, through a major partnership with the Fondation du Patrimoine and support for institutions that promote French culture and intercultural dialogue;

– Environment, especially the protection of marine biodiversity, through research, programmes to safeguard threatened species and ecosystems.

The Total Foundation emphasizes long-term partnerships in every area of its activity. In addition to providing financial support, the Foundation seeks to combine and strengthen the work of experts to expand human knowledge.

The Total Foundation encourages Group employees to contribute to its activities and influence, notably by supporting their involvement in community support initiatives.

Voluntary Work Center Kuwait

The Voluntary Work Centre was established in 2004 and its objectives are:

Supporting values of the society via individual participation
Developing personal, professional and scientific skills and abilities in youths.
Developing the value of being a volunteer in Kuwait society
Opening new horizons for young people via volunteering
Providing opportunities for young people to participate at decision making and priority setting in the society they live in.
Generalizing volunteering for the local population of Kuwait
Contributing in laws and regulations concerning voluntary work
Developing skills in young people
The Scientific Center Kuwait:

The first facility of its kind in the Middle East

•Opened in 2000.

•The facility has six attractions: a 3-D IMAX theatre, a Discovery Place (a children’s hands-on science museum), an Aquarium (displaying desert and marine animals), a Gift Shop and a number of restaurants.

•The Aquarium is a mature biological unit and normal routines operate.

•Development of a good aquarist exchange program with other aquariums (Lisbon, Cape Town).

•Focus on education and interaction with as many established Aquariums

TSCK is a cultural achievement and educational facility enriched with knowledge, which portrays fascinating architectural design that reflects Islamic art and culture. The walls contain ceramic depictions of stories that tell of Kuwait’s history. It fortifies the message of scientific awareness in the State of Kuwait, while strengthening its cultural heritage. Its activities are dedicated to spreading awareness and knowledge related to the environment. TSCK encourages people’s care and commitment in preserving the desert, marine life, and ecosystems of the Arabian Gulf region.

This piece is taken from the website of the Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project.

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Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project – Participants

May 18, 2010

Project Management
Nancy Papathanasopoulou
Nancy Papathanasopoulou is Greek.
She has been working on sea turtle conservation and environment for twenty years, in several capacities (volunteer, student, lawyer, consultant, team member, project coordinator) and in several countries. She is an environmental law and management expert, but has learnt how to do field work as well.

She is mainly working on turtles, birds, their habitats and conservation needs in the Gulf Area since 2003 as a project coordinator, lucky to work with international teams of experts. Before that, she has worked in France and in Greece, in law offices, International organizations and the Ministry of Environment in Greece. Apart from scientific research, her work involves cooperating with local and national authorities on institutions, legislation, management plans based on sustainable development, environmental education and environmental information centers.

Through conservation projects, such as the ones carried out by TOTAL in Masirah Island, Oman and three offshoreatolls in Kuwait, the authorities as well as the public are informed about the status and protection needs of sea turtles and their habitats at national, regional and international level. Nancy is glad to be part of these efforts and hopes to be part of as many as she can. She believes the marine environment is an issue that has no borders and all nations should team up and participate at its conservation, which is becoming an emergency.


Project Coordination
Husain Al-Qallaf

Hussain Al-Qallaf is Kuwaiti. He’s main aim is to increase the general public awareness towards a better understanding of the Voluntary Work values as well as the conservation of Kuwait natural resources. He is a keen and enthusiastic conservationist.

He is the general manager of the Voluntary Work Center Kuwait and the general organizer of Siniar, the main National Environmental Project inaugurated by his highness the Amir of Kuwait. Under Siniar he is the local coordinator of the Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project.
He has participated at a number of conservation efforts in Kuwait, such as removing an approximate of 10 tons of gillnets trapped in coral reef community grounds. He has also initiated some of the natural reserves such as Jaber Marine Protected Area- Sabah Al-Ahmad Natural reserve and Sulaibikhat Bay Protected Area.
In 2006 he has participated at organizing the first Enviromental GCC conference for youths and took part in the turtle conservation workshop in Yemen. In 2002 he attended DEMA, the international Diving meeting in the United States of America and approved teaching of the new Kuwait Dive team license.
He also works on teaching volunteers photography and videography skills as well as certifying other volunteers with open water and advanced diving certification. In his spare time, Hussain enjoys photography, diving, reading and spending time with his family.


Scientific Researcher, Marine Biology
Dareen Almojil

Dareen is a Kuwaiti Marine Biologist, who has recently graduated from James Cook University with a master’s degree studying the genetic structure of the Galapagos shark Carcharhinus galapagensis at the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve and the Lord Howe Island Marine Park. The main aim of the study was to assist in understanding the potential for C.galapagensis from highly protected sanctuary zone (Middleton Reef) to move into fishing areas (Elizabeth Reef and Lord Howe Island) and vice-versa, therefore identify conservation strategies that are needed to manage these important members of the marine ecosystem in a sustainable way.
Currently she works as a free-lance marine biologist for the Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project, which is sponsored by TOTAL Foundation and TOTAL Kuwait. Previously she worked for SAFAGE, conducting a survey study to assess the impact of the Second Gulf War on the fauna of the Kuwaiti waters. Her role there was to enumerate and identify specimens of juvenile shrimp. She has also spent 3 years volunteering for The Scientific Center of Kuwait while completing her undergraduate degree from Kuwait University, majoring in Zoology and minoring in Marine Biology.
Her main research interest is broadly in any topic that addresses questions related to marine conservation, such as population viability, marine reserves and conservation genetics, which are crucial to formulate conservation plans and strategies for effective implementation of fisheries regulations and law enforcement. She is potentially interested in the conservation and genetic evolution of the K selected marine species, particularly Elasmobranch species.


Environmental Information and Education
Sassa Georgopoulou
Sassa Georgopoulou is Greek. She has studied French Litterature at the University of Athens and has a Master’s in Didactology of Languages and Cultures from Paris La Sorbonne. After a long time of studying languages, music and philosophy, she became involved in volunteering for turtle projects and with environmental education at the high school where she teaches French. Her experience of sea turtle encounters in her native land, Greece, as well as in Oman and Kuwait has produced several educational packages for school children of all ages as well as adults and the general public. Sassa is currently the environmental education expert for the Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project and enjoys working on the field with turtles very much.


Satellite Telemetry Expert
ALan F. Rees
ALan is British and graduated from the University of London with a Zoology degree and a few years later started working with sea turtles as a volunteer for ARCHELON in Greece ( After an initial period as a volunteer he became a field leader and then Scientific Officer for the group.

During his time as Scientific Officer ALan developed ARCHELON scope of activities. He started several new projects and investigations, such as carrying out the first telemetry work undertaken by the society and initiating an in-water study of an important population of loggerheads living in a large enclosed bay. Most significantly, he undertook pioneering studies in Syria which documented for the first time a regionally important green turtle population (

Since 2006, ALan has worked as a free-lance sea turtles biologist, Mainly for TOTAL in Oman, which has involved nesting beach surveys and telemetry projects on three separate species of sea turtle nesting on Masirah Island. He is a member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group – Mediterranean region and has recently joined the Editorial Board of the Marine Turtle Newsletter.

ALan’s current focus is on analysing and writing up the valuable data he has accrued, within the context of completing a Doctorate under the supervision of Dr BJ Godley at the University of Exeter.


Scientific Expert in Marine Biology
David Robinson
David is a British Marine Biologist who graduated from The University of Liverpool with an honours degree in Marine Biology and later from The University of Leeds with a Master’s degree in Conservation and Biodiversity specializing in Marine Biology.

David grew up on a farm in North Yorkshire, England. His passion for aquatic life started with fishing and playing in the waterways around his home. By the age of 12 David was breeding different species of tropical freshwater fish and small mammals on a small scale to supply local pet shops.

David had always wanted to be a Marine Biologist and therefore chose the University of Liverpool to complete his studies as this was home to the oldest Marine Biology Lab in the world which is based on the Isle of Man. After completing University, David worked in Tanzania as a Research Assistant studying the biodiversity of coral reefs in South Tanzania. The work collected by the project eventually resulted in the formation of Tanzania’s second Marine National Park.

David then worked for the Vancouver Aquarium in British Colombia teaching local marine ecology to students before returning home to the UK. After several years working for large financial Investment Banks in the City of London, David then started his Master’s Degree. He travelled back to Africa and also to Costa Rica where he studied the factors affecting the hatching success of Leatherback turtle hatchlings on the Caribbean coast for his Master’s thesis.

David moved to Dubai in 2006 to start his position as Assistant Operations Manager at the Burj Al Arab Hotel. His role includes the day to day running of the Aquarium, marine turtle rehabilitation and many different conservation and fish breeding projects. David is starting his Ph.D. this year investigating the ecology of turtles in the Emirate of Dubai.

David has helped with the KTCP missions since the start of the project in July 2008. As a qualified Dive Master he helps with the underwater biodiversity surveying of the islands where he also gets to utilize his new found passion for underwater photography.


IT Expert
Abdullah Matoq
Abdullah is Kuwaiti. He has studied in Kuwait but his passion is the sea. He is a leading member of the Siniar Team of the Voluntary Work Center Kuwait as well as an accomplished divemaster and a commercial diver. He is also an IT expert and the webmaster/web designer for KTCP.


Field Work and Organization

Ali Alhafez
Ali Alhafez is Kuwaiti. A recent recruit of the Voluntary Work Center Kuwait, he is a diver, a photographer and a member of the Senyar team, as well as a passionate defendant of the marine and coastal environment. He aspires to seeing endangered species fully protected in his country as well as to helping towards garbage-and-pollution-free seas and beaches. Ali has participated in most KTCP field work missions in the past year, he is an active IT expert for the project and is looking forward to more participation towards sea turtle conservation in Kuwait.

Database and Field Assistance
Louisa Akerina
Louisa is Dutch. She is an environmental engineer, relatively new to turtling and a big fan of turtles, as well as all aquatic life and sports. She is a keen diver and an amateur underwater photographer. She has a particular interest in combining (structural) development with environmental protection and believes in sustainable development. She enjoys thinking about solutions which concern maintaining water resources clean and in pristine condition. Louisa is a keen turtler and a dedicated shift worker (even for those hard night shifts). For the Kuwait project she participates in biodiversity checkups and sets up the database.
She feels it is a true privilege to work so closely with her many Kuwaiti colleagues and other members of the team. Louisa finds each person to be very dedicated and that belonging to this team provides a good opportunity to learn.

Underwater Photography and Field Assistance
Simone Caprodossi
Simone is Italian and moved from Europe to Dubai two years and a half ago working as a market research manager for a large multinational in Dubai.Stepping out of the office he has been dedicating most of his holidays and spare time to travel photography and diving for more than 10 years. Since the move to Dubai he has specialized in underwater photography using every opportunity to go out and capture the beauty of the marine environment around the Arabian Gulf, Oman, India… He was thrilled with the opportunity to join the KTCP and help surveying the reefs around the islands. His underwater photography is used for fish classification and to document environmental damage caused by lack of protection of the area. He also had for the first time the opportunity to monitor turtle nesting activity at night, after the diving day, and is loving every second of the beach fieldwork , keeping unforgettable memories of his first turtle encounters on land.

Photography And Field Assistance
Bader Al-Attar
Bader works in Education and is a member of the Siniar Team of the Voluntary Work Center, as well as of the Photography Team. He is a diver and a power boat driver. He has been of great help to the KTCP field missions and a keen turtler.

Photography And Field Assistance
Mohammad Al-Saleh

Mohammad is a member of the Photography Team of the Voluntary Work Center and has contributed field assistance and exquisite underwater photography to the project. His collection of photos from the reef of Qaru has helped a lot with the KTCP biodiversity checklist of the environment where the turtles are active.

Photography And Field Assistance
Abdullah Al-Derbas
Abdullah is a member of the Siniar Team and of the Photography Team of the Voluntary Work Center. He has shot the first photos of nesting turtles in Qaru island as well as the first group photos of the KTCP team working on the field. Abdullah is a diver as well and has joined KTCP team members a number of times on land and at underwater field work expeditions.

Photography and Field Assistance
Mohammed Hamza
Mohammed works in IT and is an active member of the Photography Team of the Voluntary Work Center Kuwait. His collection of books about natural history and photography have been of great assistance to KTCP team members, as Mohammed has contributed decisively to the constitution of a “KTCP electronic library”. Like the work of some of his colleagues, his photography has been used for communication purposes by KTCP and it is hoped that his assistance to the project will continue.

This piece is taken from the website of the Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project.

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The Kuwait Turtle Conservation Project

May 18, 2010

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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