Watch: Surfer spots Bottlenose dolphins in Dubai
Video: Surfer spots Bottlenose dolphins in Dubai Image Credit: @vtecabramovicz/Instagram (screengrab)

Dubai: The sea was calm and the sun was finally out, after a week of heavy rains in the UAE – a perfect day to surf. On Sunday, when Polish expatriate Witold Abramowicz, headed to Dubai’s open beach in Jumeirah, he was in for the most pleasant surprise. Dolphins swam next to him as he surfed.

“It was 10.45am, surfing on my electric board when I saw dolphins swimming close to me,” he told Gulf News.

Abramowicz who posted a video of his experience on Instagram, added: “I spotted them between Burj Al Arab and Kite beach. They seemed to be heading back to the bay.”

During the one hour that he surfed, Abramowicz said he managed to spot about 30 dolphins. He was at a distance of about one kilometer from the shoreline. “Initially, I thought there were only four or five dolphins.”

He later realised that the pod was much bigger. “Four or five of the dolphins kept riding to my right, kind of protecting the bigger pod. I kept my distance and turned my speed down to 20km/hr to ensure that I would not injure any of the dolphins,” he added.

He got to surf alone with the dolphins for almost 30 minutes before two other boats stopped in the area to view the cetaceans.

The excited surfer added that the pod was quite playful and took a long time to return to the bay. “They seemed to be following me for some time,” he added.

The 36-year-old expatriate, who has been living in Dubai for five years, is an avid surfer, who goes surfing on weekends. “I was lucky this happened during the weekend, I work as a strategy consultant, and my week is usually spent busy, travelling for work.”

While this is not the first time that Abramowicz has seen dolphins closely, it is a new experience while riding an electric board. “I have seen dolphins in other places like Oman and Egypt, but never while I was on an electric surfboard… I asked my group of friends who surf, and they agreed that this was a rare experience.”

While Abramowicz thinks that the reason he was able to spot the dolphins was the weather, we reached out to the Emirates Marine Environmental Group to find out more.

According to Major Ali Saqer Sultan Al Suwaidi, President of the Emirates Marine Environmental Group: “The surfer saw Bottlenose Dolphin. It’s one of the two common types of dolphins that you might spot close to Dubai shores.

“The presence of dolphins in the waters around Dubai has been monitored and confirmed several times. It is quite common to see dolphins in this area. From our reports, we observed the Bottlenose Dolphin, the ones in the video, the Humpback Dolphin, and the Finless Porpoise are all native to the Arabian Gulf. Of these, Bottlenose and Humpback are the most common.”

They are usually spotted close to March, Al Suwaidi added. He said: “March and April are the breeding months for fish and various marine species, the fish approach the coasts to spawn safely from the currents. As the diet of dolphins consists of fish, the percentage of dolphin sightings along the coasts during this period is predominantly higher than other seasons.”

Al Suwaidi also added some interesting facts about Dolphins, for our readers.
1) Bottlenose Dolphins are one of the few species, along with apes and humans, which can recognise themselves in a mirror. This is considered 'reflective' of their intelligence. Research suggests that Bottlenose Dolphins are self-aware, a trait that is considered to be a sign of being highly developed, and abstract thinking.
2) When hunting, dolphins produce bubbles to herd their prey to the surface. They sometimes also use a hunting technique called 'fish-whacking', where they use their tail to hit fish and so stun them - making them easier to catch.
3) They swallow a fish head first, so the fish's spines don't catch in their throat.
4) Dolphins have some of the most elaborate acoustic abilities in the animal kingdom. They make a variety of sounds including whistles, clicks, squawks, squeaks, moans, barks, groans, and yelps.
5) They can reach speeds of over 30mph for brief periods.
6) We can find them all over the world, and in temperatures ranging from less than 0°C to more than 30°C. Some species can live in freshwater. The Amazon River is home to four species of river dolphins that are found nowhere else on Earth.

Talking about the conservation status of the three types of dolphins found in the Arabian Gulf, he added: “Bottlenose dolphin is classified as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin is classified as Endangered, and the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise is classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.”