Threats listed in assessment
Sheppard et al. (2010) reported on the unprecedented changes to Arabian Gulf marine and coastal habitats over the past decade, which has seen rapid industrial development, large-scale land reclamation, coastal infrastructure, tourism and housing development, and long-term fisheries activities, all of which have caused widespread loss and degradation of benthic habitats. Seagrass habitats in the Arabian Gulf have suffered as a consequence though there are no published reports on the scale of these impacts or the extent and rates of decline (Erftemeijer and Shuail, 2012). The species faces a range of significant threats in UAE waters; Boat strikes In Abu Dhabi, it was found that 20% of all stranded turtles died from vessel strikes. EPAA Sharjah is in the process of concluding a three-year study on the impact of boat strikes on marine turtles, including this species (EAD 2016). Boat strike occurrence on the eastern coast of Sharjah is also frequent. Fisheries bycatch The full extent of impact on green turtle populations is not yet well understood in the UAE, but recent assessments in the Gulf region raise concerns about the potentially high impact that fisheries bycatch may have on turtles (83.6% of bycatch composition, representing ~ 4,726 captures year; Abdulqader et al. 2017).On the east coast, fishers report that turtles are often caught, but that they are released alive. Entanglement and ingestion of marine debris The understanding of the level of impact of marine debris and entanglement on marine turtle is limited for the region, but recent findings of marine debris ingestion by green turtles indicate a potentially high level of interaction between these turtles and marine debris along the Gulf of Oman coast of the UAE (Yaghmour et al. 2018a,b).In Abu Dhabi, 52% of marine turtle mortalities were attributed to entanglement in abandoned fishing gear. A recent EPAA study found that sea turtles may also be caught in abandoned gargoor fish traps (EAD 2016, Yaghmour et al. 2018b). Coastal development Green turtles are typically associated with seagrass beds that grow in shallow waters and therefore are affected by coastal development. Turtles have been found within water intakes of desalination plants but it is not known if this species is impacted by this threat. Natural threats relevant to the UAE Green turtles are also subject to natural threats. The Arabian Gulf undergoes extreme water and air temperature fluctuations, which present climate-related challenges to species diversity and distribution. Many smaller turtles strand in the Arabian Gulf from cold-stunning in the winter months (Robinson et al. 2017), although these threats may not be so significant to this species. At the global scale, the species may be impacted by a range of threats, however, the impact of these threats on animals found in UAE waters is not known. Pollution and pathogens Marine pollution and debris that affect marine turtles (i.e. through ingestion or entanglement, disorientation caused by artificial lights), as well as impacts of pervasive pathogens (e.g. Fibropapilloma virus causing Fibropapillomatosis) on turtle health, although there are no records at present of this virus in UAE waters.The EPAA Sharjah is in the process of concluding a three-year study on the impact of oil spills on marine turtles which include this species. Marine debris (plastics, ropes, is a significant threat to this species. A study from the east coast found 86% of dead individuals found contained marine debris. Climate change Current and future impacts from climate change on marine turtles and their habitats (e.g. increasing sand temperatures on nesting beaches affecting hatchling sex ratios, sea level rise, storm frequency and intensity affecting nesting habitats, etc.). A primary turtle foraging habitat, seagrass beds, is known to be sensitive to increasing temperatures (Arias-Ortiz et al. 2018).
Conservation measures notes:
Required conservation measures: