In June 2016, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman contacted IUCN for the undertaking of a survey of the Daymaniyat Islands (جزر الديمانيات, Muscat Governorate), declared as a nature reserve, in order to assess their richness in terms of biodiversity, propose management measures and define options for further investment for nature conservation and improved accessibility to the site.
The IUCN regional office for West Asia and the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, in collaboration with international regional and national experts, participated in a 10 days survey of the archipelago that started on October 18th, 2016. Terrestrial flora, birds, marine turtles, coral reefs and fishes were recorded.
During the first part of the mission at sea, the number of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster sp.) appeared to be higher than usual (outbreak), the normal number being of around 5 specimens per hectares. This starfish species has 12 aching arms with a size of over 50 cm and is known for eating the polyps of the corals, killing them.
As an awareness and training exercise and with the participation of divers from the IUCN mission, from the Environmental Society of Oman and the assistance of local fishermen, it was decided to reduce the population of Acanthaster in the main bay of Gebal Al Kabir island. This was done in an area of about 2 hectares and 151 crown-of-thorns starfish individuals were removed.
The overall mission report will be delivered to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs of Oman before the end of the year. Technical meetings, based on the findings and the draft recommendations, will be held with the participation of all relevant stakeholders
For further information, please contact Alain Jeudy