Dubai: Authorities have issued a cautionary message to residents not to panic if they see a killer whale in the sea – they will not attack you.
A killer whale was recently spotted at a beach in Umm Al Quwain, and the video has gone viral on Twitter, with many social media users retweeting the video clip.
However, a number of social media users were quick to raise concern over how dangerous the whales can be, leaving the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to emphasise that a heavy fine will be imposed on anyone that harms these animals.
According to a statement issued in Arabic, Mona Omran Al Shamsi, acting director of Department for Biological Diversification at the ministry, clarified that killer whales are also known as orcas, and is one of the largest of dolphins.
“These dolphins do not pose any type of threat to the lives of fishermen or swimmers, and feed on marine mammals, such as fish and seals. Their curiosity will attract them to get close to beaches and while they do not show any type of aggression but like any kind of animal, they do defend themselves in dangerous events,” said Al Shamsi.
There have been very few cases of orca attacks in the wild and most marine biologists believe that in most cases such attacks are a case of mistaken identity, says WhaleFacts.org, where the dolphin initially identifies the human as a prey animal.
In these cases, the killer whale will quickly stop when realising its mistake.
“Any person who hunt these species of animals will be heavily fined and their fishing license will be revoked,” said Al Shamsi.
She explained that the ministry had spotted a number of dolphins and whales in UAE waters, including the bottlenose dolphin and the humpback whale, as they are currently migrating.
The species is a protected one, and is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES ) of Wild Fauna and Flora and Appendices I and II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals.
Two other orcas were also sighted earlier this month, near the Musandam Peninsula of Oman.