Measures to Protect Marine Life

Measures to Protect Marine Life
Measures to Protect Marine Life

Global warming is making marine habitats less hospitable to animals, forcing them to swim toward the poles in search of cooler climates, which does not necessarily guarantee survival.

Last month, scientists for the first time witnessed a polar bear feasting on a dolphin; a species that does not normally roam the ice cold waters of the Arctic.

Sandwiched between the Caspian Sea in the north and the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman in the south, Iran boasts rich marine biomes replete with diverse species, but they, too, are facing tough times, ISNA reports.

According to Davoud Mirshekar, director of Marine Biomes Office at the Department of Environment, there are over 49,000 animal and 14,000 plant species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as of 2012.

In Iran, 15 species are listed as “Critical”, 20 filed under “Endangered”, and 69 declared “Vulnerable”.

“Flora and fauna in Iran are threatened,” Mirshekar said.

  Caspian Seals

The dwindling number of Caspian Seals in recent years has prompted officials to take preventive measures.

“Of course, we need the cooperation of the public, especially fishermen,” Mirshekar said. “Often, Caspian seals get trapped in fishing nets. Fishermen are urged to hand over the seals to NGOs or qualified people.”

The seals are then transferred to a veterinary clinic specializing in Caspian seal treatment. The clinic, located in Golestan Province, was established in cooperation with the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Center—a Dutch research facility.

“Fishermen, who take the seals to the clinic, receive a financial reward,” he said.

  Workshops to Raise Awareness

The official said over 16,000 fish species, 15 types of shrimp, 10 species of marine mammals, five species of sea turtles, over 50 types of coral and 60 species of seabirds inhabit Iran’s southern waters.

“We have begun monitoring the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, which contain dolphins and whales, and have published two books and organized workshops for the locals to raise awareness and teach them how to identify different species,” Mirshekar said.

So far, about 3,000 people, including civilians, fishermen and experts in the provinces of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan and Bushehr have been trained to identify and rescue marine mammals.

Pointing to conservation measures taken to protect sea turtles and their eggs, Mirshekar said hatchery sites are established every year on the shores of Hormozgan, Sistan-Baluchestan and Bushehr to protect the eggs from predators.

“We tag the turtles, identify their nests and record the number of eggs laid by each turtle to improve the protection program,” he said. “We are also cleaning the shores as part of a project to restore and revive sea turtle habitats.”

Pointing to the competition between sea urchins and corals, the official said measures are being taken off the coast of Bushehr to ensure balance in the waters.

Overfishing near corals removes urchins’ predators and disrupts the food web, giving sea urchins free reign over the region. Urchins feed on a type of algae essential to preservation of corals.

Mirshekar said DOE’s marine programs can be divided into four categories: educational, monitoring, conservation and restoration. He hoped that the environmental collaboration with the public would lead to economic and social growth.