In 2008, I was asked if I would be interested in going to Aqaba to photograph the marine life for a book about Jordan’s underwater world. I had previously heard many good things about Aqaba’s diving and its special marine life, but more important to me the promise of crystal clear waters and relatively easy diving. It didn’t take much to convince me that I could capture the material for the book within the two and a half week schedule, and so one month later my buddy JAK and I found ourselves standing on the edge of a dive boat platform looking down into the turquoise waters of Aqaba.
Descending down over the hard corals of ‘Japanese Gardens’ and I was filled with joy of finally having 30+ metres visibility. Equipped with two cameras, one wide and the other macro, I continue to descend in search of something interesting to photograph. It didn’t take long; a mass of various zooplankton taking refuge within a sand jellyfish, a blue spotted stingray and a group of peppered morays with cleaner shrimps all within 20 minutes. Realising that the dive should soon come to an end I look up the rich coral slope and while watching a silhouetted hawksbill turtle swimming in the shallows, I thought to myself “I’m going to like it here”. Continue reading
Scientists at a special rehabilitation centre aim to keep very close tabs on a former patient after bidding her bon voyage yesterday afternoon. Experts at the Madinat Jumeirah Turtle Rehabilitation are hoping Jade, a 40-year-old green turtle, will provide vital information about her travels and the habitats she encounters. And yesterday, even as the 150kg turtle swam off into the blue for the first time since February, a satellite tag attached to her shell began to transmit valuable data. “We have only tagged two other turtles before,” said Kevin Hyland, who runs the rehabilitation centre and also works for the Wildlife Protection Office.
The first, called Maju, was released in February 2005 but the animal’s transmitter stopped working two months later. A year later another turtle, Dibba, was released and swam from Fujairah to Thailand over a period of eight months before her device stopped transmitting data. The devices usually keep transmitting for about six months. It is well known that turtles migrate thousands of kilometres between their feeding grounds and mating and nesting areas, but much about their movements remains a mystery, said Nancy Papathanasopoulou, the adviser to the Masirah Turtle Conservation Project on Masirah Island off the coast of Oman.
“The only way to reveal the secrets of where they go, what they eat and how deep they dive is to attach a satellite transmitter,” she said. Turtles are what scientists call an “indicator” species, so knowing more about their migration routes can reveal a valuable picture of the overall health of the oceans they move in. “Wherever turtles go, there is good water quality and healthy reefs,” she said.
Back in February, Jade was found washed up on a beach at the Palm Jebel Ali with what appeared to be a serious infection, said Warren Baverstock, aquarium operations manager at the Burj Al Arab. She was given antibiotics and over the months nursed back to health. Yesterday, a further 17 younger animals were released alongside Jade, some 12 kilometres out to sea, although they were not fitted with transmitters.