We are often asked if there are turtles off the coast of Dubai and if you might spot one on one of our HERO self-drive boat tours.
Yes, there are turtles in Dubai and we have a little adventure to share with you regarding a turtle. A few weeks ago, the HERO team were off on a mission to scope out new areas for fun and exciting tours. What they discovered was a unique experience that will stay with each of them for the rest of their lives.
Just after leaving the Jebel Ali shipping port and heading North-East towards JBR and the Palm, the team noticed an unusual amount of large debris in the water made up of pieces of wood and plastic. While pushing onwards with a keen eye for these types of hazards, one of the HERO Guides noticed an ominous round shape floating in the water. With the worst fears of any sailor in mind, the team decided to investigate further. When they reached the unknown shape, it turned out to be an old hawksbill turtle which was clearly in distress. It was believed to be female judging from the shortness of her tail. When looking a bit closer, the team noticed the old girl had an immense number of barnacles, seaweed and other marine parasites covering her entire body. The barnacles were 10cm thick on some parts of her body and were clearly also affecting her ability to open and close her mouth.
The HERO team jumped into action to try and help this poor creature in her struggle for survival. They positioned 2 boats alongside her and together hoisted her out of the water and onto the boat deck. She was estimated to be around the ripe age of 50-60 years old and easily weighed 70 kgs. She was indeed a tough cookie as it appeared that she had previously lost a front fin and fairly recently sustained a new injury to her shell which seemed to be caused by the propeller of a boat. The injury was healing well and did not seem to cause her any discomfort.
Once onboard, the team got to work carefully removing all the barnacles and growths. This was a very slow and tender process which kept them busy for at least an hour and a half as they removed barnacles from around her eyes, flippers, belly, back, tail and plenty all over her beak. It seemed it would have been only a few days until her beak was welded completely shut, leaving her unable to survive. The HERO team tried to keep her as comfortable as possible with constant splashes of water to her body and face. When the team got started, she seemed a bit uneasy but she quickly relaxed and there was a very definite sense among the team that she understood that they were helping her.
Once they finished cleaning her up, they slid her gently off the HERO boat back into the ocean. It was amazing to notice the difference with how quickly and effortlessly she was able to swim away. Even raising her head up out of the water to breath seemed easier than when the team first found her floating in the clear, warm waters of the Arabian Gulf. Our HERO self-drive boat tours often come across turtles on our adventures, but this experience was truly unique. It was amazing for the team to be able to help one of these incredibly beautiful and majestic creatures which share the ocean with our HERO boats.