UAE reveals causes of death for seven whales that washed up ashore

A recent investigation that covered seven years revealed the tragic deaths of seven whales that were found washed up on the shores of Sharjah, Dubai, Umm Al Quwain, and Khor Fakkan.

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Anthropogenic causes, including as ship crashes, fishing line entanglements, and plastic garbage consumption, were attributed to the deaths of six whales—five Bryde's, one blue, and one humpback—according to the research, which painstakingly studied tissues from these animals.

Conducted collaboratively by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA), the American University of Sharjah, and Zayed University, this pioneering study sheds light on the perilous conditions faced by marine mammals along the UAE's coastline. Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, chairperson of EPAA, emphasized the alarming findings from the analysis of the whales' tissues, revealing the presence of pollutants and heavy metals.

Of particular concern were the instances of whales colliding with ships and becoming entangled in fishing gear, such as robust ropes, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Additionally, the study highlighted the detrimental impact of plastic pollution on these marine creatures. The whales often mistakenly ingest plastic bags and containers, mistaking them for food, leading to blockages in their digestive tracts and eventual death.

Incidents of deceased whales washing ashore are not isolated occurrences. In October of the previous year, fishermen in Ras Al Khaimah encountered a deceased whale off the coast, underscoring the ongoing threat to marine life. Similarly, in a separate incident, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) documented the discovery of a deceased whale in the coastal waters of the emirate the year prior.

The study serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for concerted efforts to mitigate human-induced threats to marine ecosystems. It underscores the importance of implementing measures to reduce maritime collisions, mitigate fishing gear entanglement, and combat plastic pollution to safeguard the well-being of marine wildlife and preserve the ecological balance of coastal regions.

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