The 15-day survey, conducted in partnership with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute in Spain, was implemented using a custom-made 45-foot boat fitted with an observation platform. Image Credit: Courtesy: EAD

Abu Dhabi: Two newborn Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and another eight calves detected in a recent survey show their thriving population in Abu Dhabi waters.

But an additional two per cent mortality rate may lead to the extinction of these species, a senior official told Gulf News on Thursday.

“The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin can only sustain an additional mortality of 1-2 per cent of the population size,” Ayesha Yousuf Al Beloushi, Director of Marine Biodiversity at EAD, said.

Generally, dolphins have a life expectancy of up to 70 years. But the information on life expectancy and the existing mortality rate of dolphins in Arabian Gulf waters is not available due to lack of research.

The EAD’s new research is expected to find such information that will help conservation of the species, she said.

Edwin Mark Grandcourt, Manager at the Marine Assessment and Conservation Section at the EAD, said dolphins have low reproductive rates, slow growth, late maturation, a long life and low natural mortality rates.

In general they are extremely vulnerable to any additional mortality. Due to this they act as excellent indicators of the health and quality of the marine environment. As apex predators in the sea, they bio-accumulate marine toxins that may cause mortality. When a dolphin dies, it gives indications about the pollution in the marine environment.

If residents report sighting of a dolphin or a stranded animal, it will contribute to the conservation efforts.

“It is important as it dramatically enhances our ability to detect strandings and understand distribution outside the survey times, etc,” Grandcourt said.

Residents can report such information with the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre by calling 800-555.