x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Infested waters

the delight of conservationists, shark populations are flourishing in the Gulf. But swimmers have nothing to fear.

For beach lovers, the thought of more sharks lurking on our coastlines might sound like the stuff of nightmares. But fear not; the chances of encountering the rising number of sharks are tiny. From an ecological point of view, however, the news is more than welcome.

As The National reports today, shark populations in Gulf waters are flourishing. There are now no fewer than 29 species of the toothy fish out there, ranging in length from the white cheek - at 36cm the smallest found - to the great hammerhead, which can grow to over 3 metres long.

The survey, undertaken by Lebanese-born Canadian doctorate student Rima Jabado at UAE University in Al Ain, claims that the tetchy tiger, sandbar, grey reef and bull shark are also dwelling in the Gulf.

This is all good news for conservationists concerned that over-fishing has left some of our most beloved aquatic life on the endangered species list. If the carpenter shark has found a way to replenish populations in our waters, for instance, then surely hope remains for the hammour and other fish as well.

Swimmers with Galeophobia might see things differently. But for the rest of us, it's comforting to know that humans are not the only ones who find the UAE's aquamarine waters so appealing.