Dubai, 7th November 2011
Most people, when they think of the UAE’s natural habitats, think desert and camels. You’re not so wrong, the desert is present at every turn and local traffic reports regularly warn people about camels roaming the streets and point blank refusing to give way to cars. But there is more to the UAE’s flora and fauna, and one of the most diverse habitats is that of Bu Tinah Island, just off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
Bu Tinah Island is part of the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve (MMBR), A UNESCO recognised site since 2001 and the region’s first and largest Marine Biosphere Reserve. This area, covering more than 4,000 km2, comprises several important habitats with national, regional, and international significance.
Unfortunately – or fortunately, really - only a handful of rangers and marine biologists are actually allowed on the island, simply because of its important and fragile status. But reportedly, Bu Tinah Island has the highest density of those enormous and serene sea cows, the Dugongs, per square metre in the world. The Dugongs swim around the seabed meadows and live without disturbance in a clean, natural sanctuary.
Sea turtles, Dugongs and smaller sea animals thrive on Bu Tinah with three species of sea grass and more than 21 species of marine algae found abundantly on the island. With the abundant marine life come the birds, with several bird species spending their winters on Bu Tinah.
Osprey, the Western-reef Heron, and the Bridled and White-cheeked Tern stopover and breed on the Island. It is also where the Socotra Cormorant has found its home, with approximately 20,000 to 25,000 birds making it their annual retreat.
The endangered Hawksbill Turtle returns to the island every year to nest. This year alone, over 600 Hawksbill Turtles have already been born on Bu Tinah. Flora-wise, there is a long stretch of mangroves along the backwaters of Bu Tinah. They reach an average height of five metres and are home to diverse wildlife, including birds, fish and crustaceans.
In recognition of this little treasure, Bu Tinah Island is the only finalist from the Arabian Gulf in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, and needs your help to win.
Discover Bu Tinah and find out how a vote for Bu Tinah is a vote for conservation. Visit the www.butinah.ae website or www.new7wonders.com and cast that vote. You have only a few days left.