EAD successfully satellite tags four Dugongs in Abu Dhabi Waters
WAM Abu Dhabi, May 30th, 2012 (WAM) -- Scientists at the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) are now actively tracking the movement and habitat use of 4 Dugongs (Dugong dugon) after successfully tagging them with satellite transmitters off the UAE's Marine Protected Area of Al Yasat Island and Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve. The tagging was part of an overall effort to better understand dugong migration and movement patterns in Abu Dhabi waters.
These two sites were selected in particular for their close proximity to the Qatar border, in order to better understand dugong migration within the Arabian Gulf and to gain vital information that will enhance regional cooperation on the conservation of dugongs.
The data collected will also help EAD inform and guide the Government of Abu Dhabi in its efforts to set the environmental regulatory and policy framework needed to continue protecting both the local population of this globally endangered species and the fragile marine ecosystem which surrounds the Emirate's coastline.
EAD, with funding support from TOTAL, has been implementing actions for the conservation and management of dugongs and their habitats in the UAE since 1999. Its Dugong Conservation Programme studies the dugongs' ecology, movement and migration patterns.
The information collected over the past 13 years has helped EAD to understand dugong behaviour and has contributed to the establishment of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve and Al Yasat Marine Protected Area in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The tagging of these 4 dugongs around Al Yasat and Muhayimat this month was conducted under the guidance and support of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Rulers' Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate and Chairman of EAD.
"Our efforts are centred on ensuring that Abu Dhabi's waters are managed in a manner which helps this globally endangered species, as well as ensures the integrity of our other marine biodiversity and ecosystems. The support of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been instrumental in the success of our Dugong Conservation Programme, and, has over the years, enabled EAD to better understand the health of this species, our environment and how it should be managed to ensure its long-term sustainability," said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD.
The tagging of the dugongs was undertaken in collaboration with Charles Darwin University, Australia, one of the world's leading institutions in the field of dugong research. Data received so far from the satellites are being analysed by EAD. The dugongs are foraging within a radius of 10 to 15 km from the site they were captured and released. The average distance travelled by the dugongs per day was calculated to be between 6.2 and 8.8 km.
"We tracked the dugongs by helicopter and then signalled to our team, who were in the water on a small inflatable boat and two support boats. When the dugongs swam up to the surface in shallow water, our team dove in to capture the dugong and attached a transmitter on the tail of each of the animals. They also measured each dugong and safely took a small skin sample for DNA testing before releasing each of them back into the water," said Thabit Al Abdessalaam, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, EAD.
"The results from this study will help us better understand their migration patterns across borders with neighbouring countries and will further facilitate and enhance existing regional cooperation in the conservation," he added.