Bulletin 39 - November 1989: Marine Observations for March and April 1989

Marine Observations for March and April 1989

by C. van Riet


On 26th March I saw a large and a small dugong about five miles to the northwest of the eastern tip of Bahrani Island, moving slowly in a westerly direction.

On 19th April there were three dugongs at 1 500 hours about six miles northwest of the western tip of the same island, first moving to the southwest and then diving out of sight.

Mr. H. Hashimi, First Officer with Abu Dhabi Aviation, saw a single dugong on 14th March less than 100 meters from the coast at the western tip of Bahrani Island. Mr. Hashimi also commented that in the middle of March dugong meat was on sale in Abu Dhabi fish souq. The animal had been trapped accidentally in a fishing net near Mirfa, a small town about 60 miles west of Abu Dhabi. According to him, the meat has a texture close to veal and is very tasty. Price per kilogram was Dh20. He said that dugongs are not actively hunted any more but they do not seem to be on any local Protected Species list like dolphins and whales. He mentioned that in the pre-petroleum days they were hunted from rowboats and harpooned. Most meat was lightly salted and dried in the sun, like biltong (Africa) or jerked beef (USA). The hunting season was in winter months when the dugongs were close inshore.

Mr. Hashimi, who is also a keen sports fisherman, said that he had seen some very unusual dolphins, about 12 of them, some 15 miles to the northwest of Abu Dhabi in the middle of March. They had one blowhole and were about seven feet long with a rounded jaw. He cannot remember whether they had back-fins or not, but in all probability they were finless porpoises.

Humpback Dolphins

On 5th April, 17 were spotted one mile east of Bahrani Island. Around the western tip of the same island dolphins were recorded on several days. On 8th and 9th April I counted 35 of them and between 10 and 20 on 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th April. On 17th April I recorded the highest total yet, 41 (Captain A. Alvarez and myself).

Blue Nose Dolphins

On 28th March and 29th April there were 10 of these between Zirku and Qarnein. Very often it is possible to observe five to seven of these animals around the Bunduq Oil Platform.


On 11th April a whale was seen 70 miles northwest of Abu Dhabi swimming south (Captain Y. Jorgensen and myself). The animal was 30 to 40 feet long, rather slender and may have been a sperm whale.


These were last seen in mid-February; not a single one has been seen by Abu Dhabi Aviation helicopter pilots since.


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