Are there wild dolphins in Dubai waters? From a survey questionnaire conducted in Dubai in the past three months by Dr. Natoli, aimed to investigate the frequency of occasional dolphin sightings along the Dubai coastline, it appears that dolphins can be seen in Dubai not only among the dolphinariums walls. Dr. Natoli, adjunct assistant Professor at UAE University, reports: “Eighty-four per cent of the people I interviewed, have seen dolphin in Dubai waters and although the majority affirmed that they see dolphins only “sometimes or rarely”, 74% have seen dolphins in the past four months, suggesting that dolphins inhabit these waters more frequently than expected. Most of the sightings were reported within 5 miles from shore and in very frequented coastal locations like in front of Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab”.
The survey questionnaire is part of a preliminary assessment analysis of a non-profit research project, UAE Dolphins that aims to investigate the status of small cetaceans along the Dubai coastlines and to raise public awareness about these magnificent animals and their environment. Dr. Natoli, says: “As proved by the results of the survey questionnaire and by recent stranding, dolphins occur along the Dubai coast, but we do not have any consistent scientific data regarding the status of the dolphin population that may inhabit Dubai waters, nor about which species actually occur, their numbers, whether they are resident, transitory or declining populations”
“The recent stranding of three dead dolphins in Dubai promptly reported by EMEG, a sperm whale in Fujairah and a killer whale in Kuwait raise concerns among the ecologist, but more than everything highlight the paucity of information available on these animals in this area and in general in the Gulf area”, Dr. Natoli affirms.
Dr. Natoli interviewed sixty-one users of Dubai waters in collaboration with several governmental and non-governmental bodies, among those Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai Surf Ski and Kayak Club, the Marine Transport Department in Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) and the operators of their marine fleet, and the “Marine Environment and Wildlife Section” of Environment Department, Dubai Municipality.
Dolphins are of crucial importance in the marine environment and they are considered “ecological indicators”, as they occupy the top of the marine food chain, at the same level as sharks, and big commercial fish, like tuna. Therefore, assessing their status gives directly an indication of the status of the whole marine environment.
Dr. Natoli says: “Occasional records suggest that at least three species may be found in coastal waters, the IndoPacific Bottlenose dolphin, the Indo Pacific Humpback dolphin and the elusive small finless porpoise”.
The project is aiming to provide scientific baseline information that will help the conservation of these species and the local marine environment, through the conduction of a boat-based survey and to raise public awareness through educational campaign and the development of an Occasional Sighting Network. The project is still seeking the necessary funding to cover the fieldwork cost, but everybody can easily contribute to the Occasional Sighting Network every time he sight a dolphin y going onto our webpage and follow REPORT A SIGHTING or by sending an SMS to 0566717164 including date, time, location of the sighting, approximate number of individuals and if any photo or video was taken.