Bulletin 23 - July 1984: Editorial
The main event in recent months, as far as the ENHG is concerned, was the establishment of the local branch of International Dolphin Watch (I.D.W.), a combined venture with the Cambridge headquarters and also local Abu Dhabi diving groups. A project to study Humpback Dolphin in particular, and dolphins in general, was set up in April following the visit of Dr. Horace Dobbs. This project is long-term and it is too early to assess any results to date since recordings are necessarily sporadic and dependent on the motivation of a relatively small group; however, it is a definite step in the right direction. Very little research has been conducted into the status of these mammals in local waters and while they appear to be fairly numerous at present, the Gulf is becoming a polluted environment. Let us hope that more and more individuals and authorities become aware of such organisations as I.D.W. and thereby help to create a more sympathetic knowledge of the natural history of the Gulf.
This Bulletin also highlights an important addition to our archaeological knowledge of the UAE, with a report presenting evidence for probable palaeolithic occupation north of Al Ain. The chance findings of two artefacts in 1959 and one in 1981, and their subsequent analysis, pushes back the evidence for man's presence here by several thousand years. The possibility that (middle-?) Palaeolithic occupation horizons exist elsewhere beneath the sands of the UAE is a tantalising prospect to any archaeologist, and a reminder that prehistory may exist almost anywhere beneath our feet.
The Spring of 1984 was disappointingly dry throughout the Emirates apart from a few isolated storms in the Gulf and along the east coast in early May. After the freshness and abundance of annual plants in 1982 and 1983, the country as a whole has remained arid and bare. Such are the vagaries of the local climate and the necessity for vegetation to adapt to survive. Most of the newer perennials, well-established by the water levels of the past two years, will ride out this year's drought but the ephemerals will mostly remain in a dormant state as seeds until and when the rains return.
As urban Arabia encroaches ever further into the desert, this is perhaps a salutary moment to reflect upon David Attenborough's latest book "The Living Planet," published by Collins; BBC at £ 12. While by no means a doomsday offering this is a strong reminder that our earth is finite and everywhere the natural environment is being squeezed daily. As man becomes ever more dominant this planet is now witnessing a new phenomenon: the cessation of the evolution of new species -in effect the beginning of the end of life on Earth. Isn't it time we all started to look at this world as an integrated but very fragile entity, and to seriously question man's assumed superiority over other forms of life?
Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan
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