The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has recently been informed by the Indian Ocean and South East Asia (IOSEA) that the island's shoal in the west of Abu Dhabi has been included in the "IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network as an important site for Marine Turtles".
This means extra protection for the turtles nesting on Bu Tinah, especially since IOSEA is part of the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
"I am extremely delighted to learn that Bu Tinah shoal and its biodiversity is being recognised globally. It is a matter of pride for the country and its rich culture of preserving our natural resources," said in a statement Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler's representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi emirate and chairman of EAD.
Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, two can be found in Abu Dhabi's waters: the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green turtle.
In Abu Dhabi, turtles nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June and EAD's aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi's waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.
"Bu Tinah's official certification will hopefully bring about an even greater appreciation, among the authorities and the general public, of the area's richness in biodiversity. It should also help to stimulate even closer ties and cooperation with other network sites that have similar conservation challenges and needs," said Dr Douglas Hykle, coordinator of the IOSEA secretariat.
Bu Tinah island, which is managed and monitored by EAD since 2000, is part of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, the first and largest Unesco Man and Biosphere marine site in the region.
The island and its shallow waters are strictly protected from human activities such as fishing, human presence being kept at a minimum here.
In spite of the harsh temperatures and high salinity, its habitats and species, including coral, seagrass, mangroves, green and hawksbill turtles, dolphins and many species of birds continue to thrive, making the island an important location and a living laboratory for climate change studies.
The surrounding waters are also home to one of the most charismatic, but endangered marine mammals, the dugong.
"The inclusion of Bu Tinah shoal in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network recognises its importance as a regional foraging area and nesting ground for species of global importance," said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary general of EAD.
"It also acknowledges the EAD's long-lasting conservation efforts at the site. Bu Tinah shoal is one of only 10 sites in nine countries across the Indian Ocean to have received this distinction. I am delighted and congratulate all of our stakeholders and partners who made this a reality," she added.