By Rita Bento, Reef Check United Arab Emirates Coordinator
For the third consecutive year Biosphere Expeditions and Emirates Diving Association (EDA) concluded a successful Reef Check expedition in Musandam Peninsula, Oman. Twelve volunteer divers from different countries came together for a week in October 2011 to help collect data on the health and threats facing Musandam’s coral reefs.
The findings from the expedition show an amazing coral coverage in North Musandam with an average of 58%, the dive site Coral Garden being the highlight with a total coral coverage of 81%, hence its name. As usual for the
Musandam area, for our indicator fish groups, snappers and butterflyfish were the most common ones, although we had a slight decrease in the average number of butterflyfish when comparing 2010 and 2009. But on the other hand the average number of snappers for the north area of Musandam shows a significant increase as well as the average sizes of groupers that were counted. We also observed a sad increase in the amount of trash, including lost fishing nets, and general damage than in previous years.
After all the data is analyzed, the final report of this expedition will be sent to respective government authorities and we hope that some of the problems found will be addressed in the future.
We look forward to this year’s trip to see how the beautiful Musandam reefs are coping in 2012.
On this project Biosphere Expeditions and EDA is working with Reef Check, local dive centres, businesses & resorts, the local community, Sultan Qaboos University, the Oman Ministry for Environment and Climate Affairs, the Oman Tourism Board, as well as the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). Further support comes from a Six Senses (Zighy Bay) environmental grant, the Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grants programme, as well as from the Waterloo Foundation, Land Rover and Swarovski Optik.
Visit http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/musandam for information on this year’s expedition in October.