x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Island of importance and beauty

Officials say hawksbill and green turtle nests were found in Sharjah.

Sharjah's Sir Bu Nair Island is one of the most important locations in the Gulf for hawksbill turtles to build their nests.
Sharjah's Sir Bu Nair Island is one of the most important locations in the Gulf for hawksbill turtles to build their nests.

SHARJAH // The emirate's Sir Bu Nair Island is now home to 324 hawksbill turtle nests and two nests of the rare green turtle.

The green turtle nests in the southern part of the island are extremely rare in the UAE and indeed the south-eastern part of the Arabian Gulf, according to a study by the Emirates Marine Environmental Group and Sharjah's Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA).

The study also found that Sir Bu Nair Island was one of the most important locations in the Gulf for hawksbill turtles to build their nests, and the most important location in the Emirates.

More than 5,000 hawksbill turtles feed on seagrass around the shores of Abu Dhabi.

The island has been named an environmental and cultural landmark, said Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, the general manager of EPAA in Sharjah.

She said Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, took a personal interest in the study.

The study also confirmed the existence of 37 species of coral in Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali in Dubai.

Fifty-eight species of reef fish were recorded, including several around Sir Bu Nair. The island is also home to 1,037 nests of sooty gulls.

The EPAA will continue its environmental monitoring of Sir Bu Nair through next year.

"Through focusing on these beaches there is hope that more turtle nests will be documented, and, therefore, more ideas about the nesting behaviour will be generated," the authority said. "The areas of the coral reefs and coral reef fish are going to be expanded so it would cover other areas all over the Sir Bu Nair coasts."

Mustafa Ramzi, a member of the corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility committee at HSBC, which financed the research, said Sir Bu Nair was not only an important environmental reserve but also an attraction for the tourism industry and an important part of the nation's heritage.

"We have encouraged our employees to get involved, where a number of them carried out activities that aim to protect the island's environment and to later inform their colleagues of their experiences and therefore strengthen the societal awareness of our environment's issues and how to protect it," he said.

ykakande@thenational.ae