Sheikh Hamdan’s video helps record pod of killer whales off Dubai

Rare aquatic creatures are routinely spotted in UAE waters


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 16 Jan 2022, 2:36 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Jan 2022, 10:56 PM

A video shared by the Dubai Crown Prince has helped document a pod of rare killer whales off the Emirate.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had last week posted an Instagram Story about spotting an Orca in Dubai. And prior to that, he had informed his 13.1 million Instagram followers about a rare whale being spotted in the Dubai Harbour.

The Dubai Crown Prince, who is known for his love and knowledge about animals, reckoned the aquatic mammal was a Bryde's whale.

His sightings have helped the UAE Dolphin Project team document six females, one male and a calf.

Dr Ada Natoli, assistant professor at the Life and Environmental Sciences Department, College of Natural and Health Science, Zayed University, and founder and director of the UAE Dolphin Project Initiative, said: “Thanks to a video shared by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, we are now aware of a pod of killer whales being sighted this morning (Friday, January 14) about 15 miles from Dubai shores.

“This is an exciting sighting. Killer whales are rare, but they are regularly seen in UAE waters. It is so crucial for the general public to report sightings of whales and dolphins which can be done via the UAE Dolphin Project Initiative website ( Instagram, Facebook or by email at”

The project is a non-profit initiative dedicated to investigating the dolphin population along the UAE coastline. It will help provide scientific information and support the conservation of these local marine species and marine environment.

It is the first project to monitor coastal dolphins in the Arabian Gulf and entails the collaboration of national and international, private and public institutions and organisations.

Explaining more about the project, Kelly Timmins, director of Conservation, Education and CSR at Atlantis Dubai, said: “This year, we were proud to be supporting Dr Ada Natoli and the relaunch of the Dubai Dolphin Survey. The survey started again in February 2021 and will run for at least one year.

“The team, led by Dr Ada Natoli, are investigating the status of the local dolphin population through boat based surveys, which will allow occurrence, distribution as well as photo-identification data collection.”

The data will be used to assess the estimated abundance of the species, population structure and if possible, population trend.


“Information on whales and dolphins in the Gulf and in UAE waters is scarce. Gathering evidence of the status of the population will help to formulate effective conservation measures that not only protect these species, but also ensure the long-term viability or our marine resources,” Timmins added.

Rare aquatic creatures are routinely spotted in UAE waters. Abu Dhabi authorities had reported whale sightings in October and December last year.

Back then, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) had said that the presence of whales indicated the "health and quality" of the country's waters.

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