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JustHere | December 8, 2016

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Turtle hatching season begins; join the group of turtle watchers this Saturday

[Pic courtesy: Neil McBride, Qatar Turtlewatch group]

Ever watched turtles hatch? Perhaps on Animal Planet. But here’s a chance to watch this beautiful spectacle live in Qatar.

Neil McBride, a Qatar resident, has started the Qatar Turtlewatch group so that people could share in this amazing experience. He’s organising a trip this Saturday, around dusk time, to Fuwairit beach.

It’s been only a year, and the group’s activities have been limited. He hopes to expand it into a larger social network for like-minded people.

About turtle hatching he says, “Last year wasn’t quite so good but this year there have been several nestings. The turtles will often nest more than once during the season and some of the turtles have been seen returning two or three times.”

Interesting facts about turtle hatching
  • Each nest contains around 100 eggs, which take about 60 days to incubate.
  • The eggs only hatch after dark, when the sand surface cools.
  • Once hatched, the hatchlings take up to two-three days to emerge from the sand.
  • Slowly, they crawl down the beach and straight into the sea, using light, wave direction and the Earth’s magnetic fields for guidance.

Source: Marine Turtle Conservation Project

Though turtles are know to nest throughout the Gulf Region, Fuwairit beach has been the most popular, he says. According to the MoE website, Fuwairit Beach and Ras Laffan comprise 30% of the total nests of sea turtles in the area.

Environmental Threats

Like any other marine organism, turtles too are extremely vulnerable to water pollution. People mainly associate marine pollution with oil and sewage, but there’s a problem with beach litter as well, says Neil.

“Recently we participated in the beach clean up at Fuwairit, and the whole group must have filled at least 20 bin liners with litter. This, I have to say, was after the municipality cleaners had already been and cleaned up the worst of it!

“Plastic bags are a deadly threat to turtles. When they are floating around in the water they resemble jellyfish and turtles can eat them, thinking they are food. Imagine eating the bag you brought your groceries home in?”

Join the Qatar Turtlewatch group on Facebook for more details on getting to the nesting site.

 

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