The varied marine environments of Arabia provide a range of habitats for whales and dolphins.

Some occupy the shallow waters of the Gulf. Others dive deep for their prey over sea mounts, pinnacles, ridges and canyons. Further south, seasonal monsoon upwellings create nutrient-rich conditions that fuel the food web of the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden.

More than 21 different types of whales and dolphins inhabit these uniquely Arabian seas – nearly a quarter of the species known worldwide.

The rocky shoreline, beaches and shallow environment along the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah slope seawards towards deep, canyoned waters at the edge of the continental shelf. It is here that pelagic sea life, such as game fish, sharks, rays, tuna and kingfish, Risso’s dolphins and sperm whales spend time foraging, offering us a rare glimpse into their mysterious lives.

Species recorded in Fujairah to date

To date, eight species have been confirmed to occur in waters off Fujairah. Two of these, the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) and the pantropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuata) were first encountered during the Fujairah Whale Research Project in April 2017, constituting new records for the UAE. The eight confirmed species off Fujairah include:

Sperm whale

(Physeter macrocephalus)

Common bottlenose dolphin

(Tursiops truncatus)

Killer whale

(Orcinus orca)

False killer whale

(Pseudorca crassidens)

Risso's dolphin

(Grampus griseus)

Spinner dolphin

(Stenella longirostris)

Striped dolphin

(Stenella coeruleoalba)

Pantropical spotted dolphin

(Stenella attenuata)

Long-beaked common dolphin

(Delphinus capensis)

Additional species

Several additional species are thought to occur off the Emirate of Fujairah, based on their known distribution in waters in neighbouring Oman to the south and to the north. These species await formal discovery and documentation, but include the following:

Bryde’s whale

(Balaenoptera brydei)

Humpback whale

(Megaptera novaeangliae)

Blue whale

(Balaenoptera musculus)

Dwarf sperm whale

(Kogia sima)

Cuvier’s beaked whale

(Ziphius cavirostris)

It remains likely that still more species may occur in the waters of the Emirate of Fujairah, including deep water species that have not yet been recorded in the region. Other beaked whale species, for example, may occur here and await to be revealed by future study.