The warm waters near the capital of the United Arab Emirates have become home to the world's largest studied population of Indian humpback dolphins.
A study by the Environmental Protection Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) in collaboration with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI) off the coast of Abu Dhabi found a record of the studied populations of Indian humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea). Research results were published last month in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association.
Dr. Shaikh Al-Daheri, Executive Director of the Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said the discovery is good news, adding: “This demonstrates the value of Abu Dhabi marine biodiversity to the whole world, and we are responsible for safeguarding this important resource.”
Representatives of Sousa plumbea are distinguished by a special hump, an elongated dorsal fin and small pectoral fins. They grow to about 2.5 meters and can weigh from 100 to 139 kilograms. This species is found exclusively in the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean at a depth of less than 25 meters. According to Bruno Diaz Lopez, director of BDRI, who was the co-author of the research work, these dolphins are still little studied.
“This is the first time we have an estimate of the population size, and this is the largest study of this species,” he said.
Scientists observed 54 independent dolphin groups of one to 24 individuals. Most groups consisted of less than 10 dolphins. According to statistical findings, in Abu Dhabi there are 701 representatives of the Indian humpback dolphin.
Observations also revealed clear evidence of threats to animals caused by human activities. Of the humpbacked dolphins discovered, dorsal fins were damaged in 12%.
The research team is currently attracting private and corporate sponsors to finance the project.