Bulletin 2 - June 1977: Report on a visit to Bahrani Island, Abu Dhabi, on 29th April 1977

Report on a visit to Bahrani Island, Abu Dhabi, on 29th April 1977

by J.N.B. Brown and J. Scott

Bahrani Island is a low-lying island situated some 10 miles to the southwest of Abu Dhabi Island. The island is surrounded by shallow water, which tends to be slightly deeper to the northwest, towards the open sea.

Two dhows with 20 members of the Emirates Natural History Group on board went from Abu Dhabi to Bahrani Island on Friday 19th April 1977. The party spent about 4.5 hours on the island having landed on the northeast coast.


Surface Features

The party landed on an oolite beach where there were some small outcrops of beachrock backed by a surface covered with small mounds of oolite and, close to the north coast, small dunes. Between the mounds and the dunes the surface consisted of hard flat areas covered in shells and fragments of beachrock.

The beachrock at the landing areas consisted of cemented fine oolite sand, about 5cm thick and with a very slight pink color. Many of the low sand mounds were stabilized by salt bushes but the dunes towards the north were mobile and devoid of flora. Some small immature plants were growing at the junction of the dunes and the flat areas on the leeward side of the dunes; presumably after the winter rains some fresh water is trapped in the dunes.


The following birds were sighted:

White-cheeked Terns (Sterna repressa)

Saunders' Little Terns (Sterna saundersi)

Bridled Terns (Sterna anaethetus)

Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne tschegrava)

Lesser Crested Terns (Sterna bengalensis)

Slender-billed Gulls (Larus genei)

Socotra Cormorants (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (one immature on the island)

Swift Terns (Sterna bergii) (c. 500 on the island)

Sooty Gulls (Larus hemprichii)

Hoopoe Larks (Alaemon alaudipes)

Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Less Sandplovers (Charadrius mongolus)

Kentish Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus)

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)


The following reptiles were observed:

Two or three short-nosed desert lacertids (prob. Eremis brevirostris)

Four Ground Geckos (prob. Bunopus abudhabi)

Two turtles were seen, both unidentified. One was seen on the trip over to the island from Batin, about 3km from Bahrani Island. The other, a light gray in color, was observed within 100m of the island, swimming north with the ebbing tide.


Zygophyllum cocineum L (in flower) "Hurrm"

Cistanch sp. (dead and dried up)

Cynomorium coccineum L. (dead and dried up) "Turtuth"


Several dolphins were seen swimming close to the island at the landing place and over the very shallow water of the oolite shoal to the north. At the time of observation of the latter a strong ebb tide was running.

Marine Invertebrates

Many dead mollusks were found including gastropods (Murex, Natiica, Cerithium) and bivalves (Ostrea, rare Pinnia, Pinctada, Cardium, Arca). Heaps of Ostrea were common towards the east beach, presumably the remains of human feeding.

The surface of the flat areas was often covered in shells. The ones away from the north coast tended to be bivalves, while close to the coast gastropods predominated. Some dead coral, often encrusted with calcareous worm tubes, was found. Altogether about five different species of worm were observed. Calcareous algae was common and large pink acorn barnacles, up to 3 or 4cm in height for each individual, were seen. No whole echinoids were found.

Unfortunately, the state of the tide and the wind prevailing prevented the examination of the shallow water areas for living faunas and floras.


Abundant wood, ships "gash", cans etc were seen on the north coast. This beach was polluted with abundant tar globules up to 2cm in diameter. No fresh oil was seen.


Any future party should be split into two groups at least, one for birds and the other for marine life. An earlier start (7 am?) should also be made.


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