Back in 2015, IFAW and the International Whaling Commission held a marine entanglement and stranding workshop in Oman, the first of its kind on the Arabian Sea. The week-long course included participants from the Navy, Coast Guard, and members of the science community. Together, we shared skills and international guidelines to help Oman better rescue stranded or entangled cetaceans.
Operation to save an entangled Arabian humpback whale
On 21 January 2021, the specialists at the Environment Authority came across a stranded endangered Arabian Sea humpback whale in the Port of Duqm in Oman. Acting quickly, they gathered a team of specialists and volunteers, and set out to rescue the whale. As darkness approached, it became difficult to continue the rescue operation and the team had to stop for the safety of the animal and crew. The next morning, they returned to the rescue site but were unable to locate the whale. For two days, the team searched for the whale – until finally, the whale was seen by the Coast Guard. To be sure, the Air Force flew the helicopter (Casa) over to confirm spotting the whale. The Coast Guard monitored the whale’s path as it safely crossed the water of the Port of Dugm.
Protecting endangered cetaceans in Oman
The Arabian humpback whale is classified as an endangered species and therefore protected by several international conventions and treaties. Suaad Al-Harthi, executive director of Environmental Society Oman, explained in a statement to the Middle East Monitor that the "Arabian Sea humpback whales are the only non-migratory species of humpback whales and they are endemic to the Arabian Sea. Unfortunately, we estimate that there are less than 100 remaining, so every individual is even more precious if they are to have a future."
IFAW is proud to see Oman specialists use their rescue skills to help protect the Arabian humpback whale and other at-risk marine species. We continue to work with local governments and organizations around the world, sharing expertise and advancing rescue techniques everywhere we can.