Page 26 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine V

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The World Conservation Union classifies the Hawksbill as critically endangered, so
the St Regis Resort has been built in keeping with environmental policies to protect
the endangered turtles and safeguard their natural habitat. It seems the mission to
save these precious creatures has had an impact on the lives of individuals too, with a
certain lifeguard making the headlines for his turtle life-saving mission! Saving lives is
what Saadiyat, Viktor Bondarchuk is trained to do and he is always set to respond to
emergency calls, but the Lifeguard at the Monte-Carlop Beach Club never expected that
call would come in from a Hawksbill Turtle. The fit 27 year old sprang into action when
the extraordinary distress alert was raised, just as he would respond to any human in
danger. Seeing an endangered Hawksbill Turtle being tossed about on waves at Saadiyat
Beach, he knew he had to act quickly to save the little animal.
The Beach Club’s Recreation Manager was on hand to assist Mr Bondarchuck with
the unusual rescue mission. A keen environmentalist, Clare Patterson was eager to do
what she could and helped to save the turtle’s life by putting it in a bucket of water.
Professionals from the TDIC (Tourism & Investment Company) – who own the Monte
Carlo Beach Club – arrived to take over the care of the young turtle. Recovering from
his ordeal, the brave little Vik Bond – so named as a mark of respect to the lifeguard who
rescued him – is thought to be one of just 300 Hawksbills that hatched last summer in a
protected nesting ground on part of the 9km stretch of beach outside the Monte-Carlo
Beach Club, Saadiyat. During the winter, the turtles are inclined to avoid the cold sea by
taking refuge beneath rocks in a dormant state. With less sustenance during this ‘resting
period, they don’t have their usual reserves of energy and therefore when they surface
to breathe they’re in danger of being swept up by strong waves and carried ashore, where
lack of nutrition and the dry conditions puts them in more danger – they will only
survive for a couple of days. Victor Bondarchuk’s rapid actions saved Vik from this fate.
Speaking of the rescue mission, Mr Bondarchuk said;
“We have learned all about the turtles and how special they are and I was happy to be able to be
involved in saving this one. We hope he has a fast recovery and can join his friends back in the open sea
Listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s
Red List, the Hawksbill’s worldwide population has waned by over 80% during the last
century. TDIC has a devised strict conservation measures to ensure the turtles are left
to thrive on Saadiyat which now represents one of a few number of habitats where they
can still be found. Vik Bond is one of the lucky ones. Thanks to his lifeguard hero, he
was taken to the turtle rehabilitation centre in the Burj al Arab in Duba where he is
being cared for and making a good recovery, ready to be released back into the sea later
in the year. Poor Vik Bond is not alone in his plight. Over the winter months, the
TDIC reported a total of 20 turtles were discovered in different locations of Saadiyat
Beach. Millie Plowman, Environmental Manager for TDIC remarked on the alarming
“This is many more than we would usually expect, perhaps because this winter has been slightly
cooler than usual. Last year in the same period we had just three... We take the turtles to the turtle
rehabilitation centre at the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai. They are put in fresh water for a few days
to kill the barnacles and other marine growth. There, they are fed and monitored over several weeks.
Eventually, after they undergo tests to ensure they are in a fit state, they are released back out to sea.”
Following on from Vik’s ordeal, it was just a few days later when another turtle was found
upturned by a security guard on the same stretch of sand. Once again, the TDIC were
called by Clare Patterson who said;
“Both of the turtles were juvenile Hawksbills and were washed up when the sea was quite rough and
the wind was a little higher than usual. The club’s lifeguards watch the waves and security guards are
always patrolling the coast so we are in a great position to help if any of the turtles get into trouble. I
have a real personal interest in marine nature and we used to find stranded turtles in my last job as
Beach Club Manager at the Emirates Palace. Now at the Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat we are
all being extra vigilant and hope we can help these creatures to thrive here.”
In this quest to protect the turtles the kid’s club –The Turtle Club – has established the
‘Turtle Track’ to record turtle finding s in the future. Children will be asked to name the
turtles they help to rehabilitate by setting the ball rolling by reporting their findings.