Posted by: The ocean update | April 8, 2015

Environment Society of Oman completes tagging of Arabian Sea Humpback whales

ESO’s field team this year included a mix of international specialists and local experts, who weathered long journeys on poor seas to track these shy creatures.–Supplied photo

ESO’s field team this year included a mix of international specialists and local experts, who weathered long journeys on poor seas to track these shy creatures.–Supplied photo

April 8th, 2015. Muscat : Tagging of three Arabian Sea Humpback Whales has been successfully completed by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) as part of the second phase of its satellite tracking project along the coast of Dhofar.

The two-year project funded by the Renaissance Group was launched in 2014 to study the habitats that are important to Arabian Sea Humpback Whales. Identifying feeding grounds and breeding areas as well as exploring the journeys the population take, builds on the Society’s 2011-2013 conservation research project. The project has created an invaluable body of knowledge about a unique species that is iconic to the Arabian Peninsula.

ESO’s field team this year included a mix of international specialists and local experts, who weathered long journeys on poor seas to track these shy creatures and complete their research objectives over the five-week field survey period.

“I would like to thank all those who participated in this project, including the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Renaissance Services SAOG and the Wildlife Conservation Society in addition to the Five Oceans Environmental Services, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” said Suaad Al Harthi, ESO programme director.

“We have been working closely with local and international bodies in an attempt to improve our conservation efforts and our successful tagging is a positive step towards understanding how to protect such an important part of our ecosystem. With fewer than 100 Arabian Sea Humpback Whales estimated from Oman-based research, it is imperative that we work as fast as we can,” he explained.

Stephen Thomas, CEO of Renaissance Group, said, “When you consider the many things that make Oman unique, there is a special place reserved for the country’s natural beauty. The Renaissance Group believes that the studying and conservation of our marine wildlife is important in safeguarding this ecology, and so we are very pleased to support the ESO Whale Tagging project.”

Data regarding Oman’s whale and dolphin population has been collected over the course of the last 14 years with a focus on the Arabian Sea Humpback Whale. The population was only identified as being genetically isolated in 2007 and much of their ecology remains a mystery to researchers.

With a range that includes Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka, the Arabian Sea Humpback Whale is the only known species of humpback whales in the world that does not migrate.

According to genetic studies, they have been isolated from distant southern hemisphere populations for 70,000 years, and are now considered to be one of the most endangered species of whales in the world.

The movement of these whales can be followed on this link : http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=1084

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