KUWAIT: The Kuwait Scientific Center’s dive team yesterday recovered the carcass of a dead whale in collaboration with several government bodies off Qarouh Island and moved it to the shore for examination. Director of marine and environmental sciences department at Kuwait Science Club Mohammed Al-Rashid stated that the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources used a large carrier to transport the whale to keep it intact and protect the surrounding environment from pollution. The death of the whale and a dolphin a few days earlier may be indicative of some problems in Kuwait’s regional waters. Kuwait Times interviewed Wijdan Al-Egab, Secretary General of the Kuwait Environment Protection Society (KEPS), to find out more about the deaths of these sea mammals.
Kuwait Times: What is the reason behind the deaths of the whale and dolphin? Is it a normal phenomenon?
Wijdan Al-Egab: The death of these creatures is not a normal phenomenon. Usually, it has various reasons. The reason for the death of the whale is not clear as its carcass had decomposed and the tissues had rotted before taking the necessary samples to test by the institutions in charge.
KT: Have there been other unusual deaths of sea mammals recently in Kuwait’s territorial waters?
Egab: A similar incident took place last year when a whale of another breed died on Failaka Island. It was a small female juvenile 14 meters long, and even this whale is a juvenile as it is only 11 meters long. The Failaka whale suffered from parasites in its digestive system which may have been the reason behind its death and this was mentioned in the previous report.
KT: What is the situation of Kuwaiti and the Gulf territorial waters?
Egab: The territorial waters of Kuwait and GCC countries in general are narrow and the only gateway is from the Strait of Hormuz, so the water renews very slowly, which makes the water circulation slow. Its negative effects are strong, especially since there are about eight countries on this gulf and all energy producing stations and water desalination plants are by this water body, which as a result is under many environmental pressures.
KT: What are the most common problems that sea creatures face here?
Egab: The most common problems facing marine life in Kuwait and the Gulf region are abandoned fishing nets, which can be considered cemeteries for sea creatures, especially sharks and turtles. These nets are usually underwater, so nobody removes them, and if the sea creatures get stuck in them, they drown. There are also other problems such as accidents with passing boats. Then there are negative behaviors such as abusing or torturing these animals by beating or harming them in various ways. But there are some positive aspects of these problems.
For instance, we get to know the abilities of the participating authorities, till we complete and clear technique to deal with dead whales, especially since this has only happened twice, which cannot be called a phenomenon. Yet we consider it as a useful and valuable experience that shows the preparation of the institutions in charge in dealing with these events. An experience, however minor, is useful.
We need to document these experiences, ideas and solutions provided by all institutions, so we can have an agenda in the way of dealing with dead whales in the future. As a team we are missing a ‘resource manual’, which is basic and important for directing any crisis as it makes it easy for a decision maker to choose the right person and correct authority in doing the work that suit their abilities and resources. It also makes the work faster and more effective.
By Nawara Fattahova