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UAE: Strange marine life on beaches not harmful, say experts

SM Ayaz Zakir/Dubai
Filed on June 2, 2021

They can, however, be a nuisance as they stick to beach towels and swimsuits.


Strange marine organisms found on beaches across the UAE are harmless and do not pose a threat to human life, experts and authorities have said.

In Dubai, butterfly-like marine creatures have been spotted on Al Shurouq, Jumeirah-3, and Jumeirah-1 beaches. “These small pteropods do not pose any threat to beachgoers,” said James Campbell, Marine Conservation Manager and Instructor at Freestyle Divers.

He said that they can, however, be a nuisance as they stick to fabrics such as beach towels and swimsuits.

“Like any marine creatures found on the beach, it’s best to leave them alone,” Campbell suggested.

Many beachgoers have been filming these creatures and posting them on social media.

Hailing from the Creseis Acicula species, the creatures belong to the family of sea butterflies, a sub-category of sea snails. Measuring between 7.15 and 13.2 mm in length, the creatures’ bodies are protected by a pointed needle-like shell. These organisms are not considered toxic and do not pose a threat to the safety of beachgoers, the Dubai Municipality had said.

However, they can cause discomfort as they can stick to the body and they usually die on the dry sand after the tides sweep them to the shore.

In Umm Al Quwain, the marine organisms spotted by beachgoers were non-toxic molluscs. These species are small, transparent, and pointed.

Marine specialists say the family of molluscs are most likely found on upper layer of the world’s oceans and the reason for the sudden appearance is due to increase in the water temperature. These creatures can be seen on the shores around this time of year, as well as when the tides and currents follow the full moon. These factors cause these creatures to enter shallow waters where they subsequently die and wash up on the beaches.

These organisms are part of the Diel vertical migration (DVM) cycle, the synchronised movement of zooplankton and fish up and down in the water column over a daily cycle.

“When the currents push these organisms into the shallows, they can’t descend, leading to their death and them washing up on the beaches,” James explained.

Dr Solomon Senok, Dean of Human Medicine at Ajman University, told Khaleej Times that it is best to leave these creatures alone as they can cause reactions on people with skin allergies.

“Molluscs does not pose any threat to human life, but to one’s with skin allergies, it may cause a reaction. It is sensible and advisable to avoid them and enjoy the beach,” Dr. Solomon added.

ayaz@khaleejtimes.com





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