With turtle nesting season in full swing, Qatar’s environment ministry has reminded residents to stay away from the nation’s northeastern shores, especially Fuwairat beach.
The move is part of the government’s efforts to protect Qatar’s endangered Hawksbill turtles, who are very particular about where they lay their eggs, often heading to the exact same spot that they were born, or have previously nested.
In a tweet this week, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment said beach and island-goers can expose turtles to several harmful practices that prevent them from nesting and burying their eggs:
“Examples include loud noise, harsh light, driving cars near nesting spots, touching the eggs, turtles falling into fishing nets, all in addition to turtles already exposed to harm from other species including fish and crabs, as well as the water pollution that already affects nesting areas.”
— وزارة البلدية والبيئة | MME (@albaladiya) May 18, 2016
To help facilitate their breeding and nesting, Fuwairat beach is closed off to the public from April to July.
However, in recent years, researchers have pushed for a year-round closure of the beach, saying the move would help “rejuvenate” the sand to create better nesting conditions.
They said that activities like driving and campfires can leave debris and cause noise that would scare the turtles away.
That said, efforts by the environment ministry and Qatar University’s Environmental Studies Center are paying off, as some 17 to 55 nests are created each year.