Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

* Please click the continent to see the endangered species of our neighborhood.
Middle East
Socotra Cormorant * To See the original image, please click the image
Shared by : Arushi Madan (UAE)
Region : Persian Gulf and the south-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula
Status : Vulnerable
The UAE is home to an estimated 38,000 breeding colonies, 15,000 of which are found on Siniya Island in Umm Al Quwain. While large in numbers, the colonies of Socotra cormorant birds are restricted to only breeding on islands in the Arabian Gulf and the coast of the Arabian Sea. The fast pace of coastal development as well as tourism, which can disturb nesting birds and see them abandoning their eggs, means it doesn’t take much to impact the entire population significantly. A slender creature with black feathers, the bird survives on a diet of small fish.
Its surface-diving skills once made it an ally for Chinese fishermen, who would follow the birds to find the best catches. But it is extremely sensitive to human presence, and needs remote, flat sandy islands with uninterrupted terrain. There, during the October to March breeding season, the cormorants gather in colonies that can number tens of thousands, so tightly packed together that they darken the landscape. Even out at sea, the smell can be overpowering.
Their role in Ecosystem
They generally have a large impact on the entire ecosystem as they are part of the marine environment and help balance fish species and other invertebrates.
To remove all the seabirds from the Arabian Gulf could cause large fluctuations in certain types of fish which could affect the entire web, including fish we eat .The fact the Socotra cormorants are a regional endemic in itself makes them an extremely important species .
Since 2000, this species has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, on the grounds of its small number of breeding localities and ongoing rapid decline. The decline is caused by coastal development, disturbance and marine pollution near its nesting colonies in 2000 it was estimated that the world population was about 110,000 breeding pairs or 330,000#8211500,000 individual birds. The only protected nesting colony in the Persian Gulf is one of about 30,000 pairs on the Bahraini Hawar Islands off the coast of Qatar, and this is a Ramsar Convention listed site. Of the remaining 13 colonies (9 different locations), the Hawar colony is the largest. In the northern part of its range alone, about 12 colonies are known to have disappeared since the 1960s.

The birds may also be affected by oil pollution at sea. During the First Gulf War, images of badly oiled cormorants from the Gulf were regularly shown in the western media, and although the great cormorant is also found in the Gulf, it is likely that many of these were Socotra cormorants. Action: The socotra cormorant is legally protected across much of its range. In Abu Dhabi, specific protection has been given to the breeding colonies on the islands of Marawah and Al Yasat, allowing for populations to hopefully flourish. In 2012, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) monitored wild birds throughout Abu Dhabi at nearly 60 sites and recorded 420 species from 60 families. Nearly 12,000 breeding pairs of the globally threatened Socotra Cormorant were recorded at five to six small islands in the Emirate. The Socotra cormorant is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds(AEWA) applies.

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