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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Whale sharks spotted swimming in Qatar’s northeast coast


More than 100 of the aquatic animal annually congregate 90 kilometres away from land between the months of April and September. 

Whale sharks have been spotted meeting at the Al Shaheen offshore oil field off of Qatar’s northeast coast, according to Kuwaiti state news KUNA.

More than 100 whale sharks congregate near coral reef colonies 90 kilometres away from land between the months of April and September every year, as opposed to 4-5 weeks in other locations around the world.

Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) has exerted efforts to maintain the country’s marine environment, especially following the congregation of the large aquatic animal.

The whale shark, which can grow up to be 18 metres long and can weigh over 30 tonnes, is one of the largest fish in the world.

In 2019, MME began to study the journey of whale sharks by installing tracking devices on 12 of them. In 2011, the ministry launched a project on whale sharks to study their behaviour.

Read also: First endangered hawksbill sea turtles hatch at Fuwairit Beach in Qatar

The giant aquatic animal inhabits tropical and warm waters and can live up to 70 years. Despite their size, these animals are filter-feeders, and their diet includes plankton, copepods, krill, fish eggs and small fish.

The ministry monitored the congregation of approximately 400 whale sharks at the oil fields, noting that they mostly fed on tuna fish eggs. Tuna fish lay millions of eggs between April and October in this area.

Qatar boasts a vibrant aquatic ecosystem. The Gulf country’s waters are home to one of the largest herds of dugongs, with numbers of the shy and lovable marine mammal reaching 840, marking the largest gathering of the aquatic animals in Qatar in some three decades.

MME has also been committed to protecting dugongs and has frequently visited areas where they are found to conduct research on the animals.

Doha’s dugongs are part of a larger group found in the Arabian Gulf and is the second largest group in the world, second only to Australia.

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