Saving The Day

Young students sprang into action to protect critically endangered baby hawksbill turtles by releasing them into the sea at Fuwairit Beach.

Students from Qatar Academy Msheireb (QAM) and Qatar Academy Al Wakra (QAW), both part of Qatar Foundation Pre-University Education, participated in the rescue initiative organised by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MECC).

The initiative aimed to raise environmental awareness among school students and the Qatari community, emphasised the importance of conserving local biodiversity and educating future generations about the critical need to protect turtles from extinction.

“We carried the turtles and put them in the ocean,” said Sarah Naveed, a seven-year-old QAM student.

“It felt amazing to help the turtles get back to their home safely. We need to save the turtles from extinction. It’s important to protect them because they help keep the ocean healthy.”

Sarah added that people should be responsible when disposing trash and not throw it in the sea as many turtles die because of ingesting plastic.

“In school, we saw pictures and videos about pollution,” she explained.

“I learned how pollution affects turtles and the ocean. This experience showed me how important it is to protect the environment.”

Ahmed Jassim, a 12-year-old QAW student said he also participated in the initiative so turtles can continue to have a safe and healthy environment.

He added the experience had been valuable because it taught him more about marine ecosystems and how humans can protect turtles.

“Everyone should be aware of the devastating effects of throwing plastic waste in the ocean,” Ahmed said.

“I encourage all students to get involved in similar initiatives and play an active role in preserving the environment.”

Aisha Ghani, an environment specialist at Qatar Foundation Health, Safety and Environment (QF HS&E), explained that the turtle hatching and release initiative is a hands-on program where students actively participate in releasing baby turtles into the sea.

“The primary goal of the initiative is to educate students about sea turtles – their life cycle, habitats, threats they face – conservation, the importance of protecting wildlife, and the impact of pollution, particularly plastic pollution, on marine life,” she said.

Aisha added that her department collaborates closely with teachers to integrate the program into the school curriculum to ensure the initiative meets its educational goals effectively.

“Students gain firsthand knowledge about nature and wildlife, developing a sense of responsibility and care for the environment,” she said.

“It’s a unique and memorable experience that enriches their understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

“Environmental education is crucial in shaping future conservation efforts. It helps students understand the importance of protecting nature, inspiring them to become advocates for the environment. Educated students are more likely to make sustainable choices and influence others to do the same.”

Jassim Lari, head of the Marine Wildlife Development section at the MECC, said: “Our main objective with this initiative is to protect, conserve, and develop (populations of) the critically endangered hawksbill turtles.

“These sea turtles are crucial for the marine environment, not just locally but globally, as they are migratory animals that travel across borders, including the Arabian Gulf.”

He explained that by involving students from various schools, the MECC’s goal is to educate the next generation about environmental care, natural habitats, and biodiversity. Turtles are a key focus because of their significant role in the Qatari marine ecosystem.

Jassim added that through initiatives like this, the MECC aims to raise awareness among students and the community. When children see government officials actively involved, it underscores the importance of these conservation efforts. This engagement sparks curiosity and questions, fostering a deeper understanding and commitment to environmental stewardship.

“Participation in such initiatives not only educates students but also instills a sense of responsibility towards sustaining ecosystems and preserving biodiversity,” Jassim continued.

“This holistic approach encourages everyone – students, visitors and officials – to play a crucial role in achieving environmental sustainability.”

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