About the sculpture :
The Hawksbill Turtle sculpture, located in Umm Al Emarat Park, was gifted by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, on the occasion of Mother’s Day. The sculptures, dubbed The Jewels of Abu Dhabi showcase Abu Dhabi’s rich natural heritage.
About the artist :
Gill Parker is a leader in the field of equine and wildlife sculptures, with many major commissions to her name. Her sculptures are eagerly sought by art collectors around the world and are in many public, private and royal collections. Gill was commissioned by EAD to create some of Abu Dhabi’s iconic species; the Hawksbill Turtle, Arabian Oryx, Dugong, Saker Falcon and Greater Flamingo sculptures. In doing so, she worked with and mentored a UAE artist, Azza Al Qubaisi, so that she may explore new techniques and bring these to her works in the UAE.
About the species :
Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), named after their hawk-like beak are relatively small, measuring about 80cm in length and weighing a maximum of 50 Kgs. They are typically brown with splashes of orange, yellow or reddish brown while juvenile hawksbills are black or dark brown with light brown or yellow colouration on the edge of their shell and limbs.
Fun Facts :
1. Temperature determines the sex of the offsprings; at 29.3°C, there would be 50% male and 50% female. Warmer temperatures produce mostly females, and cooler temperatures produce a majority of males.
2. Sea turtles lay circa 110 eggs in a nest, and average between 2 to 8 nests a season.
3. Hawksbill Turtles are the only sea turtles that lay their eggs in the UAE.
4. The lifespan of a Hawksbill Turtle is 30 to 50 years.
Hawksbills are found in offshore waters of mainland and island shelves but are more common near coral reef formations. The Hawksbill Turtle’s distribution is centred around tropical reef areas in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans from Japan to Australia and the British Isles to southern Brazil. They also can be found in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf coasts. Most have been seen near the shallow, offshore coral reefs to the west of Abu Dhabi. Hawksbill Turtles are the only sea turtles that lay their eggs on the shores of Abu Dhabi.
Hawksbill Turtles spend some of their time resting or sleeping wedged into coral or rock ledges. They are solitary for most of their lives; they meet only to mate. Hawksbills migrate long distances to move from feeding sites to nesting grounds. Adults are opportunistic predators, using their sharp beak to prize invertebrate prey from crevices within the reef.
Hawksbill Turtles return to nest on the beaches they were hatched in every 2 to 3 years, typically between March and June. Females lay at least two clutches, around 110 eggs, and only nest at night. Nesting occurs on undisturbed beaches, where eggs are laid in the vegetation, and incubated for approximately 60 days. Hatchlings emerge as a group and use the night sky over the water to find their way into the sea.
Hawksbill Turtles are omnivorous; they feed on seagrasses, sponges, jellyfish, squid, shrimp and other invertebrates found on coral reefs.
Hawksbills are a critically endangered species due mostly to human impact. Some of the main threats to the turtles are: coastal development, entanglement in nets, marine debris mistaken for food, pollution, and over-exploitation for their meat, eggs and shells.
Hawksbill Turtles are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. EAD manages marine protected areas such as Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve which is an important Hawksbill foraging habitat.
Sea turtles and their habitats are protected by UAE Federal Law 23 and 24 (1999). The UAE is signatory to the Indian Ocean South-East Asian, (IOSEA), Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding, that suggests a range of actions for the conservation of sea turtles and the protection of their habitats.
For over 20 years, EAD has been undertaking research and conservations efforts to preserve our marine species and their habitats:
To know more about EAD’s Marine Conservation efforts click here
To know more about EAD’s effort in protecting Abu Dhabi’s marine water quality click here