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Experts glance on the least studied Red Sea’s dolphins and whales

Red Sea dolphins

Experts glance on the least studied Red Sea’s dolphins and whales

By Yosief Abraham Z

“What worries me most is that the Red Sea is crossed by a huge amount of ship traffic carrying oil. It is a key strategic channel: an estimated 4% of global oil supply passes through it. The proportion sounds small, but it represents a vast amount of oil. A major accident would be disastrous for marine life in the narrow Red Sea,” asserts Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, one of the region’s most respected marine mammal specialists.

In a briefed interview he held with David Obura from The University of Queensland, the expert clarifies that while huge progress has been made globally in enriching ecological knowledge of marine mammals, this hasn’t been the case for the Red Sea. “With the exception of dugongs, very little is known about the Red Sea’s mammals. This is one of the main reasons we put this report together, conducting and collating research from 1983 to 2017,” Mr. Giuseppe adds.

On the presence of large cetaceans—a collective name for dolphins and whales—the expert and his group emphasize that the Red Sea is better for smaller dolphin species like spinner dolphins and pan-tropical spotted dolphins. The report additionally articulates that the spinner dolphins take advantage of a community of smaller critters living in what scientists call the deep scattering layer, a critical source of food for the dolphins to tap into in an otherwise poor marine environment.

In answering, what critical threats are now looming on the cetaceans, Mr. Giuseppe accentuates that disturbance by tourists on the southern coast of Egypt and administration hobbles across many shores that have been resulting into leaving the entire reef area to be taken over by people as critical threats.

After paying his glance on Yemeni fisheries, the specialist testifies, “in terms of fishing, I’m aware of situations in which particularly Yemeni fishermen travel widely across the Red Sea to hunt sharks for the Far East fin trade. I know that they have been using dolphin meat as bait for catching sharks. But we really don’t know how big this practice is or its impact on dolphin populations.”

Regarding to collaborative scheme thus to mitigate the easily discernable looms, the report by the expert called for strong cooperation among the Red Sea bordering countries. “It would be great to have a model in the Red Sea similar to the one applied in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Since 2002, there has been an agreement between most countries bordering those seas. It commits the coastal countries to protecting those seas’ cetaceans.”

It is recalled that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has already established a task force thereby to identify areas that are critical for some aspect of a species life, embracing feeding, breeding or migrating. This task force, which is already in the process of identifying mammal areas in large portions of the southern hemisphere, plans to do similar environment protecting schemes in the Red Sea in 2019.
Yosief Abraham Z is current Executive Director of HorMid Media and Art Center. For any comments, criticisms and questions, you can contact him at

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Experts glance on the least studied Red Sea’s dolphins and whales Reviewed by Admin on 12:01 AM Rating: 5

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