In Sudanese Shores as Well, Shark Abhors Disturbance
Dungonab Bay and Sanganeib are Sudanese marine protected parks on the Red Sea; which possess astonishing maritime wealth of a full chain of aquatic life, including the smallest creatures, fish and shark that tops the largest sea mammals.
They were selected by the non-profit Equipe Cousteau and Deep Today maritime organizations for carrying out programmes for observation and monitoring sharks and manta rays, according to Mohamed Younis, the Independent Consultant for the two organizations in Sudan.
Younis, who was previously the Manager of the Sanganeib Marine Protected Park, said the scalloped hammerhead sharks and manta rays are threatened of extinction in all seas of the world but they exist in Dungonab Bay and Sanganeib marine parks in the Red Sea.
The programme for monitoring those species is aimed at identifying their behavior, means of their survival, multiplication and migration for their conservation globally, Younis said.
The programme is implemented in the framework of an agreement between the organization and the Federal and the Red Sea State ministries of Tourism and Environment, he said, adding that the monitoring plan would last for four years as of 2012 and that the plan includes promotion for tourism in the Sudanese coasts, especially the two protectorates.
Diverse aquatic wealth:
The Science Officer of Deep Today Society, Graham Hill, said they have chosen Dungonab Bay for the presence of large quantities of manta rays in it.
Generally, the sea water in the Sudan is almost virgin with respect to the environmental safety and the aquatic diversity, as it has not been affected by many of the factors that hit the global marine environments.
The selection was in the context of concern with and conservation of manta rays and sharks in the Red Sea, Hill said. If valuable information conducive to establishing an effective management of a growing marine tourism of entertainment and casual fishing, Dungonab and Sanganeib will be conserved for the future generations and as an international heritage, he added.
Dungonab Marine Park is about 157 km north of the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea and is 70 km long and 30 km wide with an area 2,808 square km. It is a big natural bay rich in pearl oyster that propagated naturally in the Red Sea.
The park includes two villages inhabited by 200 families of around 2,000 adults who depend on fishing with traditional instruments in shallow and semi-deep water.
Meanwhile, Sanganeib Park is about 35 km east of Port Sudan with no population, according to Major Nasr al-Dinn Mohamed al-Amin, of the Police General Administration of Wildlife Conservation.
Graham Hill says the monitoring programme is the first, most credible and important of its kind in this scientific field. It has been developed into a patient, thorough scientific study and will be useful to the international scientific community in general, as the information will be based on concrete scientific data that will help in conservation of the sharks and manta rays in the two marine parks and the Red Sea, Hill said.
The science officer said the cost of the project is high due to its nature and the employed advanced technologies, using acoustic appliances for remote measurement, employing satellites and genetic technologies of the second generation for information analysis.
Oceanographers are taking part in the project under the supervision of scientists Nigel Hussey and Steven Kessel of Windsor University, Equipe Cousteau and Deep Today organizations in addition to the Oceanographic College of the University of the Red Sea and Aquatic Wildlife Rangers.
The first phase of the project that began in 2012 was devoted to establishing the project’s infrastructure, said Deep Today officer who added that during that phase 40 monitoring devices have been installed across 130 kilometers of seabed and tags have been placed for 22 manta rays and connected with the monitoring devices, through satellites to register data on a daily basis.
Last February (2013) the scalloped hammerhead and grey reef sharks were introduced in the monitoring programme and guidance tags were placed for a few number of these two kinds of shark, the Deep Today officer said.
The monitoring programmes for the upcoming stage are designed to determine whether the manta rays gatherings belong to this area or the Red Sea region at large.
Shark loathes annoyance: The fisheries and marine biochemistry scientist, Salah l-Dinn Yagoub, said the cartilaginous fishes that exist in the Sudanese territorial water, which is 750 km long, include four kinds of shark which are: the tiger-like, ox-like, hammerhead and the one with black and white fins.
He said both sharks and Manta rays are endangered as their quantities and kinds have greatly decreased as a result of the wide-scale international catching.
Moreover, like other mammals, sharks reach maturity in late age, giving birth at 10 and if they cannot find an opportunity of safe living to reach puberty, their numbers will steadily diminish and this is why they need conservation, the scientist said.
He described the shark as highly intelligent with a powerful smelling sense that reaches up to two kilometers; it is fast and energetic and sensitive to noise, preferring quietness which is available in the Sudanese coasts. Yagoub added that the cartilaginous fishes include manta rays, which are abundant in Dungonab Bay, the dolphin and the sea spotted bat which lives in shallow water of 2-5 meter-deep.
He believes that extensive investment along the coast or inside the protected parks may destroy the feeding system of the shark and manta, posing a major threat to them. Any change in the sea followed by a change on the land will have impacts on both, Yagoub added.
Dr. Abdullah Nasir al-Awad, Director of the Red Sea Fish Research Station, said Dungonab and Sanganeib marine parks are still clean, vivid and uncontaminated and their coral reefs are still unbroken like other international marine parks.
He said the sharks count about 5% of the total local marine production in the Sudan.
“We are upset by the sharks because in many cases they eat the fish we catch which they find delicious and easy to swallow,” he said.
He said they suffer from the busy October- June tourism season during which about 8,000 tourists visit the two marine parks each year. Although they do not fish, the tourists damage the coral reefs because they do not find anchorage for their diving boats, Awad said.
The Director General of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the Red Sea State, Nasr al-Dinn Ahmed al-Awad, said the two protected marine parks possess a rare marine diversity and still posses their natural purity and bring in 80% of the Red Sea tourism proceeds, earned from the diving.
Catching for the fins is the only threat to the manta rays and sharks, he said. The official said they are keen to maintain and conserve this diversity and for this reason they have a plan for utilizing the Red Sea coasts in tourism and development and welfare of the local communities.
The Director of the Fish Research Station noted that excessive tourist activity may damage the coasts and counting on tourism may adversely affect the maritime environment. To avert this, a study and continued evaluation of the environmental impact of any activity must be carried out.
The Advisor of Cousteau and Deep Organizations in Sudan, Younis, said maintenance of the beauty of the existing nature of the region and its resources can provide excellent opportunities for tourist investment but “firs we have to protect them and then we can invest in many ways.”
The DeepToday science officer said the basic and long-term purpose of the programme is to find a plan for information development and then come the measures that help avert damage to the environmental resources.
“What is essential is to compile adequate information in a way that any case can be monitored on a scientific basis and any problem can be resolved before it causes damage to the resources,” the science officer said.
Graham Hill said the monitoring system can be beneficial to the project through immediate and multiple exchange of monitoring the marine creatures with the research institutes that employ similar technology.
He added that the Sudan can also benefit in capacity-building by using advanced technologies in oceanography and in protection of marine environment.
The resultant publicity will also boost the country’s benefit from the international efforts for the protection of the maritime environment and will consequently be able to achieve its long-term objectives of conservation of these aquatic species and obtaining international support for its environmental issues.
By Ishraga Abbas
Posted on May 9, 2013, in Sudan life style and tagged aquatic diversity, hammerhead sharks, ministries of tourism, scalloped hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead sharks, sharks in the red sea. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.