By Melanie Swan
Experts are hoping that the UAE’s first dolphin-research project, which was officially launched on Saturday, will boost conservation efforts.
There has never been any research carried out on the Arabian Gulf’s dolphin population, an omission that is potentially catastrophic for the long-term survival of the mammal in the region, said the head of the project, Dr Ada Natoli.
“There is no data for the UAE and the Gulf, and without the data the species can easily disappear without any authorities even noticing,” she said. “For there to be conservation, you need this baseline information to be gathered.”
Dr Natoli called on the public to get involved in the project by reporting dolphin sightings to the group on its website.
There have been many sightings in waters around the UAE and Oman, including at areas near the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab in Dubai, but nothing has officially been logged.
In April, a group sent Dr Natoli video footage of two dolphins. During the project’s first research outing last week, near the Palm Jumeirah, she was able to find the pair among the 23 bottle nose dolphins that were spotted.
Dolphins have unique fins – as distinctive as the human face – meaning there is no need for the cost and complication of tagging, which is an invasive process for the dolphins
Finding the two dolphins from the video was a boost to the research, Dr Natoli said.
“This data allows you to see if the mammals are seasonal or residential here in the UAE waters and it also allows you to see the social relationship between individuals,” she said. More....