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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bu Tinah Shoals United Arab Emirates

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Bu Tinah is a tiny archipelago amid extensive coral formations and seagrass beds some 25 km south of Zirku and 35 north of Marawah in the United Arab Emirates. Found in the waters of Abu Dhabi, it is protected as a private nature reserve. Bu Tinah Island, rich in biodiversity, lies within the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve with a territory of more than 4,000 sq km. The Biosphere reserve is the region's first and largest UNESCO-designated marine biosphere reserve.

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Bu Tinah Shoals

Bu Tinah has been a recognised UNESCO site since 2001. Closed to visitors, fishing and the collection of turtle eggs are prohibited on Bu Tinah Island, 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. Even birds like Socotra Cormorant are found here.

Bu Tinah's thriving habitat is a unique living laboratory, with key significance for climate change research. This distinctive natural habitat with its shallow waters, seagrass beds and tall mangroves, set amid extensive coral reefs, hosts rare and globally endangered marine life. Seabirds such as the flamingo and the osprey, diverse species of dolphins, and the rare hawksbill turtle are to be found in Bu Tinah. The island's waters are also home to the planet's second-largest population of dugong, a large marine mammal that is globally threatened.

Some 600 out of the estimated 3,000 dugongs in the country live in the waters around Bu Tinah and the creatures are listed as a species vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This precious natural resource is part of the largest protected area in Abu Dhabi. Its significant coral community and the health of its habitats and species despite its high temperature and salinity levels make the island of keen scientific interest. Bu Tinah Island is one of the 28 official finalists for the "New7Wonders of Nature".

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