Respect our seas for the gifts they give
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
The news of a whale shark being spotted in Bahrain waters has excited conservationists. These gentle giants of the sea can apparently grow up to 20 tonnes and live for 70 years. Although solitary, their presence denotes the availability of plentiful plankton – their main food – in Bahrain waters which shows that we have managed to control ocean pollution to some extent.
The Arabian region, although known for its deserts, is also a rich source of maritime heritage – after all, our traders and sailors of yore were the harbingers of Islam to the distant ports that they touched and they also brought back valuable scientific, medical and cultural knowledge to the Western world, sparking the Renaissance and showing the way out of the Dark Ages.
Recently, in Egypt, paleontologists have announced the discovery of an altogether new species of whale fossil from 43 million years ago. The behemoth was amphibious and roamed the land as well as waters, with well-developed fins as well as limbs and was a terrifying hunter of other creatures.
The discovery added a new layer to Egypt’s ancient history so that it took on an identity beyond the Pharaohnic times. All of this – the whale shark sighting and the discovery of Egypt’s fossilised amphibian whale – should stay in our minds when next we set sail for an evening of fun or fishing or a beachside BBQ.
Why? Because if we remember that we share our oceans and land with such magnificent creatures, perhaps we will be more careful about how we use our seashores and oceans. We must continuously be watchful about pollution – especially plastic and glass which are gathered by the sackload by diligent week-end eco-warriors.
Think about it: the bountiful sea gives us nutritious fish to eat, waterways to ply our trade and balances our environmental rhythm by giving and receiving rainclouds. Surely such a mighty force should be treated with more respect than junking a used can or a load of sludge into it.
(Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism)