UAE Waters Filled with Fascinating Marine Life But be Careful, Warns Diving Expert

The marine life off the UAE coast line is rich and environmentalists find exploring it simply fascinating.

By Lily B. Libo-on

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Published: Wed 22 Oct 2008, 9:25 PM

Last updated: Fri 21 Oct 2022, 11:35 AM

However one has to be extremely cautious especially scuba divers and underwater photographers, of the underwater hazards, particularly in the Fujairah area, according to a diving expert. Dr Frank Gordon Kirkwood, a certified Scottish scuba diving instructor for whom underwater photography has been a hobby for over 16 years, said the UAE waters are fascinating with diverse marine life, but some pose dangers especially to divers.

He said that different kinds of highly poisonous sea snakes are present in the waters off Dubai and Abu Dhabi and they pose big problems. The anti-venom is available only in Thailand and in Japan.

“If you are ever bitten by sea snakes, go straight to Khalifa and Rashid, the two hospitals in the UAE with the experience and the capability of handling such emergencies,” he said.

Dr Kirkwood who has been with the oil industry in Abu Dhabi for three years, organises diving teams in the UAE, mostly in Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and in the waters off Musandam between UAE and Oman.

“Sharks are also in plenty off the UAE coastline, including whale sharks, which grow up to five metres long. I urge everyone to protect the sharks and its environment. These sharks are all around during July in Fujairah.”

The UAE and Musandam dive sites have also black-tip and white-tip sharks, nudibranchs and mammals like dugongs (sea cow), which may go deep to six metres below sea level and have dolphin-like tails,” he added.

He said the country also has an abundance of sting rays. Some of them are large like the devil rays and the spotted eagle rays are to be avoided at all cost. The torpedo ray is even more dangerous because they can generate electric shocks equivalent to 100 volts underwater. Dr Kirkwood added that anyone fascinated with marine life and underwater scenery has to be careful of so many sting rays rest on the sand and it is difficult to spot them.

“Other hazards for divers, he said, are the lion fish, which protects itself with so many spines all over its body, the sea urchins and cone shells whose shell edge may cause fatal wounds when you step on it. If you see one, do not attempt to pick it up,” he added.

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