Muscat: Rescue teams are currently being scrambled to rescue a rare Arabian Sea humpback whale, which has become entangled in a fishing net off the coast of Muscat.
The whale, which was sighted about 65km from the shore, is one of just 100 individuals of the Arabian Sea humpback whale population, which has been classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, a catalogue of animals facing extinction.
A joint statement from the Environmental Society of Oman (ESO) and Oman Sail was released just minutes after the whale had been discovered.
“Inform all vessels to look for an endangered humpback whale that is entangled in a fishing net,” said Assim Al Saqri, acting head of communications for Oman Sail, expanding on the original warning issued by ESO. “Its last known position was 65km east off Muscat’s coast on Friday 11th November, and is presumed to be slowly swimming southwards. “This whale is one out of only 100 individuals of the Arabian Sea humpback whale population, which are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, so every whale counts!” he added.
Residents who sight the whale are requested to note the time, location and direction of the whale’s travel and immediately report it to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs’ (MECA) 24-hour wildlife emergency hotline, on 24696333, or inform the ESO on 99855108, or through social media, and if possible, the Royal Oman Police coastguard as well.
“If possible please take photographs of the sighting but maintain a safe distance of 100m from the distressed whale,” added Al Saqri. “DO NOT ATTEMPT to release it yourself as it’s a highly dangerous situation! A response team from MECA, who are specially trained, will mobilise to respond to any reports of the whale to disentangle it.”
The Times of Oman reached out to the ESO for comment as well.
“An Arabian Sea Humpback whale was seen on Friday around 65 km east of Muscat’s coast, totally entangled in a fishing net,” added Yusra Jaffer, public relations manager for ESO.
“As per the IUCN this species is listed as critically endangered. Research shows that there are less than 100 individuals in the Arabian Sea.”
“The ESO urges anyone who sees it to get in touch with us or the Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs through the contact numbers provided on our Instagram account (@esooman) or on Facebook,” she added.