Monday, December 06, 2021 | Jumada al-ula 1, 1443 H
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Omani fishing enthusiasts rescue stranded turtle
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MUSCAT: A casual weekend ended in a surprise of sorts for Saif Abdul Latif when he and his friend were on a fishing mission and rescued a turtle that was stranded amidst a heap of plastic waste.

Saif and his friend Hilal al Battashi had gone to the sea in search of some prized catch of some yellowfin tuna. After cruising some 100 km from the Marina al Bandar to the deep sea, they spotted something floating in the sea.

The giant object was moving towards their boat. Saif was hoping to be a school of fish under the floating object, as it generally happens when he goes fishing. However, to his surprise, the object turned out to be a turtle that was slowly swimming towards their boat, "hoping to grab our attention."

“I was so surprised and excited to see the giant turtle swimming towards us. Though sea turtles are common towards the deep sea, they don’t generally come close to boats. When we brought our boat closer, we realised the turtle was tangled in plastic waste and was not able to swim properly. I felt like it was seeking our help and we decided to intervene,” said Saif.

With the help of Hilal, Saif managed to get the turtle onto the boat. The turtle’s head and legs were tangled in a thick plastic sack and was not able to swim freely.

“The turtle seemed exhausted. It must have been in this stuck position for weeks without food. It took almost 45 minutes for us to untangle the plastic sack without hurting the turtle. When we finally released it back to the sea, the turtle stayed close to the boat a little more before disappearing into the depths of the sea,” Saif said.

Hilal al Batashi said the turtle was lucky because they spotted it and saved it on time.

“While cruising across the sea, we see many dead turtles and dolphins stranded in plastic. Whenever we venture into the sea, we try our best to clean up the plastic waste. We urge everyone to stop dumping plastic into the ocean. Even a small mask is enough to kill a turtle,” he added.

Sea turtles are the victims of the high level of plastic pollution in the sea. Oman’s seas are home to five of the seven rare species of turtles found in the world, four of which nest on the shores of the Sultanate.

The Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, and the Olive Turtle are commonly seen in Oman, while the Leatherback Turtle visits the Sultanate’s beaches in search of food only.

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