LAHORE - The coastline of Pakistan abounds in diverse marine life and rare species such as whale sharks, dolphins, turtles and other marine life have been reported in these waters and to explore it, WWF-Pakistan is conducting a sailing expedition from Dubai to Karachi between December 13 to 25.

According to spokesman for WWF, it aims to highlight unique marine ecology of the region and record sightings of significant marine wildlife. The expedition will stop at Gwadar on its way to Karachi.

The expedition will be led by Khalid Mahmood, President WWF-Pakistan along with four other members including French and Italian sailors. Crew members would mainly focus on recording humpback whale and whale sharks. It has been reported that a sub-population of humpback whale resides in the Arabian Sea, therefore, it is important to collect further data and highlight the need for its conservation.

According to Mohammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Advisor Marine Fisheries, WWF-Pakistan, a large population of the whale shark is present in these waters, and often gets entangled in fishermen’s nets. He also said that due to awareness campaigns and training by WWF-Pakistan, fishermen have successfully released a number of whale sharks during the current year. ‘Last year school of around 4,000 – 5,000 spinner dolphins were sighted on the Pakistani coastline near Gunz, Balochistan which indicates the richness of marine life that supports such a large population of top predators like dolphins,‘ he added.

WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with WWF-Environment and Wildlife Society, UAE and Oman Whale and Dolphin Research Group (OWDRG) of Oman and other neighbouring countries plans to launch an initiative to assist conservation of the humpback whale in these waters. The sub-population of this animal in the Arabian Sea seems to be isolated from other global populations, and is listed as “endangered” by the IUCN. The population of these whales is estimated between 250 to 400 individuals.

Rab Nawaz, Regional Director, WWF-Pakistan commented that this new initiative will help in conducting surveys to obtain more accurate information about distribution, movement, breeding and feeding of the whales. The effort will aim to develop a collaborative trans-boundary plan for the conservation of this important species, he added.