Celebrating 42nd UAE National Day

Feature: Cristyn Ashley

In celebration of the 42nd National Day the UAE Dolphin Project was excited to be part of the Boat Parade organised by the Dubai Marina Yacht Club. Over 30 boats adorned in UAE flags and balloons participated in the parade, and the project decorating our boat as a dolphin-complete with dorsal fin and fluke!

On land Dubai Marina Yacht Club continued the festivities with various Fun Family activities such as face painting, children’s entertainment and live cooking stations. The UAE Dolphin Project was kindly asked to run a stand where we provided further activities for the children such as puzzles and draw a dolphin competition where the lucky winner had the chance to name one of our re-sighted dolphins. This event also gave the project an opportunity to answer questions about dolphins and how the project aims to understand the local populations found in Dubai waters. Another great day, made possible by the great support of the DMYC and the project volunteers.



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UAE Dolphin Project goes to University

UAEDP_AUSpresentationFeature: Camilla Argent

We were so delighted that so many students and professors attended our seminar entitled: “Whales and Dolphins in the Gulf: ecological indicators of the local marine environment” held on November 13th , at the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environment at the American University of Sharjah. The talk focused on the importance of cetaceans in the marine ecosystem, their role as “ecological indicators” of the health of the marine environment, and synthesised existing information about cetaceans in the Gulf. This then led to a discussion about the research of the project and what can be done to support conservation in the UAE. It was also highlighted the importance of involving students in environmental research and we were delighted that many of the students in attendance expressed an interest in working more closely with the project by volunteering as research assistants as part of their course modules. Thank you to Dr. Pappalardo for proposing the subject to the Department and Dr. Dalibalta and Dr.Bartholomew for  supporting the organization. We look forward to working with some of you in the future!

Field work on the starting line!

Feature: Cristyn  Ashley

We made it! We are finally ready to start the field work! On October 26, Dubai Marina Yacht Club, one of our main sponsors, kindly organized a community event to sign the inauguration of the UAE Dolphin Project. The focus was on raising public awareness about the project, its aims and the unveiling of the projects boat; a 30ft Duretti Sportfisher. Duretti Boat Manufacturing kindly provided the vessel so that the project could conduct dolphin research surveys along the Dubai coastline.

To kick off the event, Dr. Ada Natoli, the project coordinator gave a presentation to the members of the DMYC on why she began the project, why it is important and how everybody can contribute by reporting their sightings.  Twelve volunteers took part in putting up information posters, taking photos, and running activities including a quiz competition, draw a dolphin competition, and dolphin puzzles. The prizes included a chance to name one of the local dolphins we previously identified, a family ticket to the Dubai dolphinarium show, and first prize was the chance to become a crew member for the day and participate in data collection and recording.

There was a great turnout, and it was fantastic to see that there is such interest in local marine wildlife. We were grateful for the opportunity to answer any questions on the project and dolphins in general. Perhaps the most important opportunity was to highlight the importance of reporting any dolphin sightings by the public to this project.

Thank you DMYC for your continued support and to Brunella, Chris, Cristyn, Dan, Elias, Farah, Joel, Phil, Traill, Valerie, and Vanessa for all your help.



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First Dolphin Stranding reported on Dubai beach

It was an unexpected but welcomed call, when the other afternoon I picked up the phone and heard the voice of the Principal Marine Environment Officer of Dubai Municipality, Mr Khan, reporting that a dead dolphin had been found on the Jumeirah Beach Park.

I said: ” Oh such a sad news…Thank you! Give me an hour and I will be there!”


Strandings are always sad events, and everybody wishes to see dolphins alive rather than dead. But not having any knowledge in resuscitation techniques yet, the only thing we can effectively do is to utilise the unfortunate animal to gather as much information as we can, to hopefully help the live ones. And a stranded dolphin is a pot of gold for researchers!

Within two hours a small team consisting of one skilled veterinarian,  Dr. Ana Salbany, from Dolphin Bay Atlantis the Palm, Traill Stocker from Dubai Dolphinarium and myself were on the site.

It was indeed a dolphin. A small dolphin and surprisingly a finless porpoise!

This is supposedly the rarest species among the three species that are known to occur in UAE waters. It is a small dolphin and as by its name it has no dorsal fin. This, added to his shy and elusive behaviour makes even more difficult to sight and study them.

Very little is known about this species world wide, as very few studies have been conducted, despite the latest Red List Assessment having categorised this species as Vulnerable. Its preference of coastal shallow waters makes it even more susceptible to antropogenic impact.


Finding a dead finless porpoise is definitely a worrying sign and raises concern for the survival of this species (this is the fifth recorded stranding in the Gulf since the beginning of the year), on the other hand it is an indication that this species still occurs in this area.

We managed to collect all the necessary measurements and conduct a full necropsy. We determined that it was an adult male finless porpoise. We collected skin samples for future genetic analysis and examined all the organs. No sign of parasites were found and unfortunately due to the advanced state of decomposition we were unable to univocally determined if the cause of death could have been a boat collision or net entanglement. A full report has been compiled and sent to The Marine Environment and Wildlife Section, Dubai Municipality.


A special thank you goes to Mr. Khan, Dubai Municipality, for contacting us and to the great team that kindly agreed to join me at the site. It has been a successful first attempt and we proved that a stranding network could work if we create a communication channel and enough people that know the importance of reporting stranding.


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Trakhees take actions towards the conservation of the local dolphins and endorses the UAE Dolphin Project

After holding a staff workshop in June, the Environment Health and Safety Department (EHS), the regulatory arm of  Trakhees-Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation (PCFC),  officially endorsed the UAE Dolphin project and is taking active steps to support the UAE dolphin Project raise awareness within its jurisdiction.

In celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup, on September 12th it organised a public workshop to raise awareness about the local dolphin population entitled:  “Public-Private Partnership for dolphin project”.  The workshop, presented by Dr. Ada Natoli and Ana Salbany,  was held in collaboration with Dolphin Bay, Atlantis and highlighted how private companies can play an important role in gathering information about whales and dolphins in the region. Specifically, shipping companies can provide invaluable information by reporting sightings along their shipping routes from offshore areas that are generally difficult to survey. The workshop also focussed on raising awareness about the importance of reporting stranding as crucial source of information for the researchers.

All the major stakeholders based in the Jebel Ali free zone were invited, among those who participated were ENOC, DP World, Sharaf Shipping Company, CSAV Shipping LLC. EHS’s efforts to promote the project continue, broadcasting the project through their partner organisation. We are extremely grateful to Dr. Ahmed Al Falasi, head of the EHS and his team for their great ongoing support and Heidi Perez Cao, Vice president of Dolphin Bay, Atlantis for the great collaboration.

Trakhees Workshop2013