Abu Dhabi dugong research

This video is called The Dugongs of Abu Dhabi.

From Wildlife Extra:

4 dugong fitted with Satellite tags off Abu Dhabi

EAD successfully satellite tags four dugongs in Abu Dhabi waters

May 2012: Scientists at the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD) are now actively tracking the movement and habitat use of 4 Dugongs after successfully tagging them with satellite transmitters off the UAE’s Marine Protected Area of Al Yasat Island and Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. The tagging was part of an overall effort to better understand dugong migration and movement patterns in Abu Dhabi waters.

These two sites were selected in particular for their close proximity to the Qatar border, in order to better understand dugong migration within the Arabian Gulf and to gain vital information that will enhance regional cooperation on the conservation of dugongs.

The data collected will also help EAD inform and guide the Government of Abu Dhabi in its efforts to set the environmental regulatory and policy framework needed to continue protecting both the local population of this globally endangered species and the fragile marine ecosystem which surrounds the Emirate’s coastline.

Dugong Conservation Programme

… The information collected over the past 13 years has helped EAD to understand dugong behaviour and has contributed to the establishment of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve and Al Yasat Marine Protected Area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Traveling 6-9 Kms per day

The tagging of the dugongs was undertaken in collaboration with Charles Darwin University, Australia, one of the world’s leading institutions in the field of dugong research. Data received so far from the satellites are being analysed by EAD. The dugongs are foraging within a radius of 10 to 15 km from the site they were captured and released. The average distance travelled by the dugongs per day was calculated to be between 6.2 and 8.8 km.

Skin samples

“We tracked the dugongs by helicopter and then signalled to our team, who were in the water on a small inflatable boat and two support boats. When the dugongs swam up to the surface in shallow water, our team dove in to capture the dugong and attached a transmitter on the tail of each of the animals. They also measured each dugong and safely took a small skin sample for DNA testing before releasing each of them back into the water,” said Thabit Al Abdessalaam, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, EAD.

“The results from this study will help us better understand their migration patterns across borders with neighbouring countries and will further facilitate and enhance existing regional cooperation in the conservation,” he added.

Densest population of dugongs in the world

Sometimes known as a ‘sea cow,’ this air-breathing mammal is highly adapted to life in the sea, spending much of its time grazing on sea grass which is found at the bottom of the sea. Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah Island is home to the densest population of dugongs in the world. Here, and in other parts of Abu Dhabi waters it occurs, this species continues to flourish in an environment which is not under threat.

However, due to its slow movement, large size and dependence on coastal habitats, the dugong is still vulnerable to human impacts. Globally, the dugong is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be ‘vulnerable to extinction.’ This gentle herbivorous creature is facing extinction around the world due to increased human maritime activity – from targeted and incidental harvesting, the community’s careless disposal of trash, to accidents from boat traffic, and even dredging activity. Additionally, their dependence on seagrass found in coastal habitats further increases their vulnerability due to loss of seagrass habitat as a result of human activity.

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