In the framework of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Institut français presents “Tara Oceans”, two photographic exhibitions by Tara Expéditions and University College Dublin – UCD on Saadiyat Public Beach and at Monte-Carlo Beach Club from January 20 to February 8, 2014. On this occasion, many related public programs, including lectures by scholars, film discussion series, and school tours are organized.

All the parallel events are free and open to all.

On Saturday 25th of February at 2:30pm, don’t miss a lecture “feets on the water” by pre-eminent researcher Dr. Ada Natoli:

Discovering the local marine environment: dolphins in the UAE

Are there dolphins in UAE waters? Yes! But very few people are aware of their presence even if they sometimes appear so close to shore!
And what should you do if you encounter them? How can you help the local researchers understand more about them?

Come and find you more about the dolphins of the UAE, why they are important for the marine environment, how to spot them, recognise the different species, what to do in case you see them at sea and how to report a sighting to help to protect them.

Dr. Ada Natoli, PhD, is the Project Director of UAE Dolphin Project

The UAE Dolphin Project aims to investigate the dolphin population along the UAE coastline, to provide scientific baseline information and raise public awareness.  This is done through the implementation of a research program as well as running a media campaign and educational programs involving the public and private organisations. The ultimate goal is to promote the conservation of dolphin species and the local marine environment.

As the first project monitoring coastal dolphins in the whole Arabian Gulf, it is a pioneering undertaking. It entails the collaboration of national and international, private and public institutions and organizations. The project is a non-profit based initiative.

Why a UAE dolphin project?

A dedicated survey focusing on investigating coastal dolphins has never been conducted in the UAE nor in any area of the Gulf.

Whales and dolphins play a crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Being at the top of the marine food chain, together with other species such as sharks and top marine predators, they are “Ecological Indicators” of the status of the sea.  The presence of a healthy dolphin population means that the marine environment can sustain them and therefore is in good condition.

Although over ten species of whales and dolphins have been reported, the Gulf is considered as “data deficient” by the international cetacean scientific community and no baseline information is available on the status of the dolphin population: prevalence of species, whether they are resident, transitory, or whether the populations are declining.  In UAE, the only information available on small cetaceans comes from two aerial surveys on dugongs conducted in the Abu Dhabi area in 1986 and 1999. Although species were not identified, authors estimated a decrease of 71% in small dolphin sightings in 13 years (Preen A., 2004). The rest of the UAE coastline has never been monitored for small cetaceans, but in several areas dolphins are regularly seen. Based on occasional records at least three species of dolphins are reported to frequent the Dubai coastal waters:  the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the rare finless porpoise.

Capture d’écran 2014-01-19 à 00.01.14