In partnership with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, aims to support sick or injured marine animals, including young hawksbill turtles in distress.

The centre came to the rescue of a turtle that was struggling to swim off the Abu Dhabi coast due to the numerous barnacles found on his shell. The turtle was found near the water’s surface, exhibiting unusual lethargic behaviour for a young hawksbill turtle, as the barnacles were impeding the turtle’s swimming ability. This raised concerns about his overall health, which led the rescue team to intervene and save the hawksbill turtle.

The turtle underwent general health assessments, which included a physical examination, radiographs and blood tests. The hawksbill turtle was found to be suffering from suspected pneumonia, and the turtle began a course of injectable fluids and antibiotics. The turtle began displaying signs of recuperation and started to eat and swim, demonstrating a promising turnaround, following the treatment. SeaWorld has rescued more than 40,000 animals around the world since its inception in 1965.

Dr Elsburgh Clarke III, Director of Animal Health and Welfare at the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, said: “Our ultimate goal is the safe return of every rescued animal to its natural habitat upon complete recovery in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. Leveraging our team of dedicated specialists and cutting-edge equipment, we expedite this process. In rare instances where experts, including The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, and other UAE environmental authorities, determine that releasing an animal into the wild is not advisable, we commit to offering long-term, compassionate care within our state-of-the-art facilities, while actively supporting ongoing research and educational endeavours.”

Maitha Al Hameli, Section Head - Marine Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation in the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said: “EAD has decades of experience in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife in Abu Dhabi and we are pleased that we now have a new partner such as the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center to help us expand our rehabilitation program and facilitate the rescue of species. Through teamwork we are always able to successfully rescue, and rehabilitate wildlife, including marine turtles back to health so that we can release them back into their natural habitats where they thrive, enhancing conservation of species in Abu Dhabi.”

In line with the UAE's Year of Sustainability, the centre is building local partnerships essential to being part of an effective rescue network. It has the region’s first marine wildlife rescue ambulances with specialised equipment. The animal care equipment includes one of only a handful of animal CT machines in zoological facilities in the world, as well as dedicated rehabilitation facilities, featuring UV lighting that mimics natural sunlight.

SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi and the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, are the region’s first facilities to be certified by Global Humane, the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare, establishing their commitment to the mission of promoting marine conservation and animal welfare in the MENA region.