Tinah is a tiny archipelago amid extensive coral formations and seagrass
beds some 25 km south of Zirku and 35 north of Marawah. It is as undisturbed
by man as anywhere in the waters of Abu Dhabi and is protected as a private
nature reserve. Fishing and collection of turtle eggs is prohibited, the
ban being enforced by patrols.
Bu Tinah is actually a cluster of islands and shoals, joined or almost so at low water, with nowhere greater than two or three metres above sea level. The main island has a sheltered lagoon opening to the south with the low energy environment permitting stands of mature mangrove to flourish.
From a nature conservation standpoint, it is the coral and seagrass communities which are of greatest significance. The second largest population of dugong (Dugong dugon) in the world lives in the Arabian Gulf (the largest being off Queensland, Australia) and their distribution in Abu Dhabi waters is primarily to the south and west of Bu Tinah, in an area reaching down to the waters off Marawah island. Seagrass is the principal food of dugong. Satellite-tracking studies of dugong are planned, with aerial survey and monitoring of the population likely to become an annual fixture.
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