He heads the team behind the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project that rescued and rehabilitated more than 200 turtles from our shores in the first few months of 2012 alone.
Tell us about the turtle programme.
When injured or sick turtles are discovered on our beaches, they are brought straight to us at the Burj Al Arab Aquarium. After an intensive care period at our quarantine facilities and a period of rehabilitation in the outdoor pens at the Mina A’ Salam, we give them the green light for release. Last year, in addition to 151 critically endangered juvenile hawksbill sea turtles, we had a number of much larger turtles that we were able to set free. In particular, two very rare and large loggerhead turtles and two large green turtles.
How was the public response to the first release programme on the beach?
There was a massive turnout. Around 150 children each released a turtle. The whole crowd cheered.
What is the biggest marine conservation challenge here in the UAE?Humans littering our shores and the attitude of ‘someone will clean up after me’. Every day people leave rubbish on the beach and a lot gets washed out to sea, contaminating the marine environments and harming sealife.
When you aren’t shaping the UAE landscape, what do you like to do in your downtime?
I’m a very keen underwater photographer with some of my work published in Time magazine and British tabloids. My goal is to be recognised as Wildlife Photographer of the Year – to date I have only reached the finals… There is still time.