UAE: Causes of death revealed for 7 whales that washed up ashore

The dead mammals were found along the coasts of Sharjah, Dubai, Umm Al Quwain and Khor Fakkan


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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Mon 4 Mar 2024, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Mar 2024, 11:52 AM

Collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear, and ingestion of plastic waste led to the death of seven whales that washed ashore UAE coasts, a study has found. Tissues from five Bryde’s whales, one Blue and a Humpback were analysed for the study that took nearly seven years to complete.

The dead whales were found along the coasts of Sharjah, Dubai, Umm Al Quwain and Khor Fakkan. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA) completed the first-of-its-kind study in collaboration with the American University of Sharjah and Zayed University.

Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, chairperson of the EPAA, said the whales’ tissues revealed presence of pollutants and heavy metals. Most notable among the causes of death were “collisions with ships and large vessels and entanglement with fishing gear — particularly sturdy ropes in which whales become ensnared, leading to parts of their bodies being severed”.

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“Additionally, these whales are affected by the plastic waste that fills the depths of the seas. They consume bags and empty containers with their food, resulting in the blockage of their digestive tracts and, subsequently, their death,” added Al Suwaidi.

In October last year, fishermen in Ras Al Khaimah spotted a dead whale off the Emirate’s coast. The year before that, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) found a dead whale near the coastal waters of the emirate.


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