x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Whale found dead off Abu Dhabi

A young whale has been found dead near an island off Abu Dhabi with an injury to the side of its head, indicating it might have been struck by a vessel.

A young whale was found dead near an island off Abu Dhabi on Monday with an injury to the side of its head indicating it might have been struck by a vessel. Measuring nine and a half metres long and three metres wide, the six-year-old male Bryde's (pronounced Broodahs) whale was first sighted floating near Al Radim Island, where it was later pulled to shore by an Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) patrol boat. It had been dead for at least 10 days.

Staff from the EMEG regularly patrol the waters near the islands as part of the non-governmental organisation's mandate to preserve and study marine life. "It was a sad sight to see, as we rarely get a chance to see whales. It was a big loss to us," said Maj Ali al Suweidi, the president of EMEG. The Bryde's whale, which is usually dark grey or bluish-grey, is from the rorqual family and has folds on its throat and chest to allow the mouth to expand when filled with water and small fish. It has a slender body and a broad, flat head, and can live for up to 50 years.

"It was a very young whale, and probably died upon impact with a ship, and then it drifted slowly towards shallower waters," said Maj al Suweidi. He said the species was not uncommon in the Gulf and surrounding waters. Their numbers in this area reach about 25, but they have yet to be properly documented. Bryde's whales are found throughout tropical and subtropical waters. The EMEG team will bury the whale for four years and then dig it up and use its skeleton as an educational tool at a local museum.

The last Bryde's whale found dead in the UAE was in Jebel Ali Port in November last year. It had a massive injury to its midriff from being hit by a ship. The Bryde's whale is named after Johan Bryde, a Norwegian consul to South Africa who helped build the first whaling factory in the country in the early 1900s. rghazal@thantional.ae