Bulletin 37 - March 1989: Marine Records -- Autumn and Winter 1988

Marine Records -- Autumn and Winter 1988

by C. van Riet


It seems that there were no flamingoes in the vicinity of Abu Dhabi from the end of June 1988 until the middle of October. Several of the helicopter pilots from Abu Dhabi Aviation remarked on this, as normally a few are seen from time to time even in mid-summer.

A first sighting of them was on 12 October. Some 75 were seen in their usual area, a little east of the Wet Lands Reserve to the east of Abu Dhabi Island. During the following days numbers varied from zero to an estimated maximum of 250 in the middle of November. From that period until February/March 1989 we would expect to see them in the same area in two groups totaling about 50. At times they disappeared for up to three days.

On 14 and 16 October 1988 I flew a helicopter to and from the desert, leaving Bateen Airport at 1300 local time and returning at 1700 hours. On both return flights flamingoes were observed in an area to the southwest of Mussafah. There were about 50 on the first trip and some 120 on the second. Captain P. Lee flew the same route on 13, 15 and 17 October at the same times but reported not a single sighting.


Returning from Dubai a large group of several thousand cormorants were seen about one mile offshore, close to the Chicago Beach Hotel. They were only noticed because they were making a running takeoff and leaving white tracks in the sea. Takeoff direction was to the northeast and they seemed to continue in that direction.

On 4 January 1989 a very long line of cormorants (possibly three miles) was seen flying in a southwest direction about four miles offshore, across the approach to Abu Dhabi harbor. The time was 0715 hours.

On 26 January, around 1100 local time, a long line of cormorants crossed Bateen Airport at about 200 feet to the north-northeast. Its length appeared to be the same as the width of Abu Dhabi Island at that location.

On 2 February, a densely packed group of cormorants, estimated at 50m by 15m, was floating one mile to the south of Qarneyn Island.


Near a drilling rig, Dhabi 2, 40 miles west of Abu Dhabi, a school of roughly 60 bottle-nosed dolphins was seen on 8 January. On 13 of the same month, there was a small group of eight humpback dolphins in a channel between Futeisi and Bahrani. It is unusual for these dolphins to be seen so close inshore in numbers greater than three.


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