3D Printed Turtle Structures Highlight Marine Conservation


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Few things warm my heart more than hearing stories of how 3D printing is used to help endangered species, such as sea turtles. But the technology doesn’t just help by creating prosthetic shells or flippers—it can also be used in important conservation efforts as well. Since 2004, the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, which is based at the five-star Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel, has rescued, rehabbed, and released 1,600 turtles, and is the only project of its kind in the region. Now, the Jumeirah hotel group is raising awareness for sea turtle conservation with some beautiful 3D printed turtle structures, which have been installed in Dubai.

Jumeirah is committed to preserving wildlife, particularly the sea turtles that call the Arabian Gulf their home, which face many threats to their survival, including pollution, boat strikes, coastal development, and hunting. There are seven species of marine turtle, and sadly all of them—from the loggerhead to the hawksbill and green turtle—are listed as vulnerable to extinction, critically endangered, or endangered.

Often, it’s members of the public, via the Dubai Wildlife Protection Office, who bring turtles to Jumeirah Al Naseem after finding them washed up onshore. Sea turtles that end up at the Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary can recover in a Gulf-fed lagoon, which gives them a natural habitat and lets the team monitor their rehabilitation. Many of the turtles are fitted with satellite transmitters before they are released back into the wild, so the team can see how far they travel, and the hotel’s outdoor turtle enclosure is open to the public every day, so visitors can actually interact with the animals and learn about their biology, the threats they face, and how important they are to our oceans.

Image courtesy of Jumeirah Al Naseem

French/Tunisian artist Idriss B, who’s based in Dubai, enjoys making unique polygonic art, and already has several really amazing installations in that city and other places around the world. Recently, he created nine large, 3D printable polygonic turtle sculptures for Jumeirah’s turtle conservation project, which were fabricated by the Proto21 3D printing farm in Dubai, using 40 3D printers and over 125 kg of material.

As this project is focused on conservation efforts, it makes sense that a sustainable solution was used to create the 3D printed turtle structures. That’s why the creators decided to use eco-friendly, recycled PLA filament from UK company Filamentive to shine a light on how important environmental protection is, as well as reduce the project’s overall environmental impact.

“It is always exciting to see our sustainable materials selected for high-visibility projects; given our own strong focus on sustainability, it is truly rewarding to be a small part of an impactful project that highlights marine conservation,” said Ravi Toor, Founder  Managing Director, Filamentive. “We commend Jumeirah Group for their environmental efforts, thank our valued partners Proto21 for their sustainable 3D printing production, and also applaud Idriss B for his creativity in raising awareness for this all-important cause.”

The 3D printed turtles are being installed at locations throughout Dubai, including by the sky-high Burj Al Arab Hotel—one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

The Jumeirah Group really wants to drive the point home about how necessary marine conservation is, and also launched a multi-sensory culinary experience called Turtle Tea by Idriss B at the Al Naseem’s Al Mandhar Lounge. This unique offering is part of the hotel’s new À La Mode dining concept, in which fashion and cultural icons partner with Jumeirah Group for a purpose-led afternoon tea, and the first À La Mode experience will be the Turtle Tea by Idriss B. Guests can see one of the 3D printed turtles in the artist’s collection when they first arrive in the hotel lobby, while others will be placed throughout the hotel. They’ll also enjoy an afternoon tea with both sweet and savory vegan offerings, which will of course be served on top of chrome turtle sculptures.

Turtle Tea by Idress B also marks the official launch of the new dedicated toll-free hotline, 800TURTLE (800 887853), which was organized by the Project Ambassador Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan bin Khalid Al Qasimi for people to call if they find an injured or distressed sea turtle. A contribution will also be made to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project with every Turtle Tea by Idriss B experience, and in addition to enjoying the 3D printed turtle sculptures and delicious afternoon tea, guests can scan QR codes onsite to learn more about the Jumeirah Group’s inspiring work with sick and injured sea turtles.

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