Saadiyat Island’s original ‘guests’, the Hawksbill sea turtles, continue to nest on the destination’s sweeping beachfront.
The nine kilometre Saadiyat Beach plays host to several Hawksbill turtle nests every year. The Hawksbill is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, as its population has declined by more than 80 per cent worldwide over the last three generations due to habitat destruction and poaching. Master developer Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) began its Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Programme in early 2010 – the only one of its kind in the Arabian Gulf.
The Saadiyat Beach plays host to several Hawksbill turtle nests every year – each nest containing between 90 and 100 eggs. Pedestrians’ beach access is via elevated boardwalks, therefore preventing people from walking through the delicate dune system and potentially disturbing turtles’ nests.
Strong lights and noise may distract the baby turtles, causing them to head in the wrong direction and away from the sea. During nesting season, night lighting is reduced to aid the baby turtles’ orientation, nests are logged and avoided by beach maintenance crews, and all beach furniture is moved off the beach at night.
Just how long turtles have been nesting on Saadiyat is unknown, however after 30 years, breeding Hawksbill females return to their birth place to lay their eggs.