Arabian Gulf coastlne. Photo: Mink/Flickr.

ABU DHABI (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)- The shark population in the Arabian Gulf is much higher that thought to be. So concludes Rima Jabado, a Lebanese-born Canadian doctorate student at UAE University in Al Ain, who embarked on the first scientific survey of the shark population of the Gulf, a scientific cul-de-sac that until then had been strangely ignored, despite worldwide concern about declining shark populations.

There are no fewer than 29 species of sharks swimming off the Arabian coast, ranging in length from the white cheek – at 36 centimetres the smallest found – to the frankly intimidating great hammerhead, the largest example of which caught off the UAE was 3.82 metres long. There is a slim chance that swimmers could encounter the notoriously tetchy tiger, sandbar, grey reef and bull sharks, and even the creature most feared by generations of pearl divers – the sawfish, a monstrous member of the ray family, aka the carpenter shark. It is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) but is nevertheless clinging on to life in the Gulf.

Read more at The National



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