Holding educational program for local children living in the neighborhood of Hara (Mangrove) Biosphere Reserve

Type: Education & Rising Awareness + Taking direct conservation actions
Duration: December 2019
Summary: Hara Biosphere Reserve, is the largest mangrove forest at the Persian Gulf. This vast wetland hosts more than 55 of resident and migratory waterbird species, of which some of them are classified as threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Therefore, the habitat is known as an Important Marine? Bird Area. Due to the unique bird diversity of the biosphere reserve, and with the aim of introducing next generations to the importance of biodiversity conservation, QECI has held an educational program for local children of the villages bordering the wetlands. In this program, and during a range of practical activities, the children learned about the roles of the birds in the quest to protect the wetlands, thus promoting sustainable livelihoods of the communities living in its neighborhood. The children   learned also about the threats to the birds living in the biosphere reserve and the conservation measures that can mitigate these.

Teaching the course: “introduction to the marine reptiles of the Persian Gulf” to the Eco-tour guides 

Type: Education & Rising Awareness
Duration: June 2018
Summary: In a course held for the candidates who wished to be certified as Eco-tour leaders, the participants were taught about the basic biology of marine reptiles, and also about the codes of conduct that visitors need to follow when they encounter marine reptiles in nature. There are 15 species of marine reptiles recorded from the coastal waters of Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, including five sea turtles and 10 sea snakes. Watching most of these species in their wild habitats doesn't need much effort. Eco-tourists just need to be present at the right place and time to watch sea turtles laying eggs on the sandy shores, or foraging in marine pastures, or watch sea snakes gently swimming at the surface.  However, without enough knowledge, this contact might be harmful for the animals and sometimes even for humans

Status assessment of nesting hawksbill turtles in Hengam Island

Type: Research + Science-based solutions
Duration: 2018-2019
Summary: Hengam Island, a small island with an area of about 37 km2 lying at the strait of Hormuz, is known as an important nesting site for critically endangered hawksbill turtles. However, unregulated tourism and egg predation threaten the nesting activities of these marine reptiles. Therefore, from mid-winter to early summer 2018, the conservation status of this nesting community was investigated. The results call for an immediate conservation program to mitigate the threats

Holding a consultative workshop for fishers about sea snake

Type: Education & Rising Awareness
Duration: Sep 2018
Summary: In Hara Biosphere Reserve, entanglement in fishing nets are the main threat for sea snakes. Removing the snakes from the nets with caution not only can save the life of the snake, but also will reduce the risk on envenomation. Therefore, in a workshop held for local fishers from the villages around the biosphere reserve, we first talked about the role that sea snakes play in sustaining the biodiversity, including the commercial species, in the area. Then we trained participants for safely removing snakes from the nets and releasing them back to the sea, so that neither the fisher is bitten nor the snake is harmed. The participants were also trained about the emergency first aid that they need to follow in the case of sea snake envenomation

Estimating abundance, home-range and threats to Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin’s Bay

Type: Research + Science-based solutions
Duration: 2017 – continuing
Summary: Dolphins’ Bay Natural Heritage Monument, a healthy reef habitat at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, hosts the largest community of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) along Iranian coastal waters. The bay is also known as the only Iranian commercial dolphin watching site, which annually draws thousands of tourists who like to view dolphins in their natural habitat. The bottlenose dolphins living in the bay suffer from year-round, unregulated fishing activities and very high tourism boat traffic at certain times of the year. Nonetheless, data are limited about population size and conservation status of this dolphin community. The QECI has previously carried out some preliminary boat surveys at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, aiming to estimate abundance of the species in the bay using photo-ID techniques and capture re-capture model

Estimating sex-ratio of green turtles living in the Persian Gulf

Type: Research
Duration: 2016 – continuing
Summary: Sea turtles are among species with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) meaning their sexual phenotype is determined by the temperature of sands incubating their eggs. Consequently, man-made climate warming might lead to female-biased sex ratios among wild sea turtle populations, which unfortunately, has already been experienced by some of the world’s largest sea turtle populations. However, as an exception, nesting sites of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles continue to exist in the climatically extreme environment of the Persian Gulf. To understand how elevated temperatures of the Gulf environment affect sex ratios of sea turtle populations, we collected more than 300 green turtles, mostly juveniles, from arrow-head fixed fishing traps surrounding Qeshm Island and determined their sex using laparoscopic examinations.  The results showed they could adapt to the impacts of the changing environment of the Persian Gulf, but whether they can keep up with the rate of the change due to man-made global warming is yet to be determined

Conservation of sea turtle nesting grounds in some MPAs at Bushehr Province

Type: Research + Science-based solutions
Duration: 2014 – 2015
Summary: Many beaches of small remote islands and mainland of Bushehr Province at the northern Persian Gulf are known as important sea turtle nesting sites in southern Iran. Therefore, these habitats, and their adjacent coastal waters, are categorized as Marine Protected Areas by Iran Department of Environment (DOE). The aim of this project was to monitor nesting activities of sea turtles in this region, identifying the main threats, and restoring the habitats that are threatened. The outcomes were science -based conservation plans that were proposed to the DOE. Some direct actions that were also implemented during the project include holding educational and training programs for local communities, and building hatchery sites for the mainland nesting grounds that had been threatened by predation.

Investigating feeding ecology of green turtles in the Persian Gulf

Type: Research
Duration: 2013 – 2016
Summary: Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are the dominant sea turtle species in the Persian Gulf. Although foraging green turtles are widespread throughout the entire Persian Gulf, until just a few years ago we knew very little about their feeding ecology through the area. As a result, in 2014, we decided to study feeding ecology of the species in the eastern Persian Gulf. By collecting turtles from a sheltered mangrove swamp and an exposed reef habitat, we were able to study their dietary regime using oesophageal lavage technique. The results helped us to understand which kind of vegetative resources provide food for foraging turtles in the area, and how these herbivores can overcome nutrient limitation within relatively food-poor habitats occur in some parts of the Persian Gulf.

Ecology and conservation of sea snakes in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman

Type: Research + Science-based solutions
Duration: 2014 – 2016
Summary: Our knowledge about diversity, distribution and conservation of sea snakes in the Persian Gulf was extremely limited. We therefore carried out a project to assess their status in the area through a series of field surveys. We also aimed to build capacity for the protection of sea snake population.