People, Travel

Depleting Food Source Driving Dolphins Away from Hengam

Depleting Food Source Driving Dolphins Away from HengamDepleting Food Source Driving Dolphins Away from Hengam

The bottlenose dolphins of Hengam Island that used to race tourist boats, creating one of the most enjoyable and popular attractions of the Persian Gulf island are now avoiding tourists.

The dolphins are not leaping in and out of the water anymore when boatful of people show up, because they have lost all trust in those riding in the boat. In fact, they have been avoiding the coast altogether.

The dolphins began disappearing just as the number of poachers on Hengam Island, to the south of Qeshm Island, increased exponentially. No one knows where they have gone and there is simply no trace to follow.

“Over 200 fishing boats equipped with loud engines have not only created trouble for local fishermen, but pushed tourists away from the resort,” Afshin Abbasnejad Hengami, a local tour guide, told Mehr News Agency. “This has taken a toll on the island’s tourism industry.”

Noting that sardine is the main source of food for most Persian Gulf animals, including dolphins, he said there is no point for dolphins to stay in a place where the food supply is fast shrinking, “especially when they run the risk of getting caught in the fishing nets.”

The small whales had chosen the coastal areas of Hengam Island as a habitat mainly due to its food security and proximity to people because dolphins have a desire to seek human contact.

“In fact, they sought human contact so much that even the loud noise of motor boats did not keep them away, and they were playful as ever. But now, not only have we robbed them off of their food source, but have also deprived them of a safe place to live and enjoy themselves,” Abbasnejad said.

He lamented the fact that no measures have been taken by the authorities to prevent illegal fishing in the area.

“Iran Fisheries Organization, the Department of Environment, and the Tourism Department at the Qeshm Free Zone Organization have all turned a blind eye to the matter,” he complained.

“More than 250 watercrafts are operating in the island, and over 1,500 poachers haul something close to 900 tons of fish on a daily basis.”

Additionally, rotten fish that have been unloaded in close vicinity of the docks, particularly around Kandalu Pier, has created a stench that irritates tourists and local residents.

If those in charge at the DOE and the QFZO’s Tourism Department remain oblivious to the pressing concern and no immediate action is taken to control the illegal fishing, the dolphins will sooner rather than later migrate from the island forever, hurting the island’s tourism industry and biodiversity to a great extent. Of course, that is if they are lucky enough not to get caught in the fishing nets or motor boat blades.