10 REMARKABLE MARINE CREATURES COMMONLY FOUND IN UAE

The UAE is not known as the go-to place for scuba diving, but there is a thriving marine life, especially in the East Coast, Fujairah, UAE. Instead of visiting the Dubai aquariums, below is a list of marine creatures you can see across the UAE in their natural habitats. As a scuba diver, there is nothing more beautiful than watching the tropical aquatic life go about their day in their natural habitats.

In this post, we provide remarkable facts about the marine creatures that surround us…


1. SEA URCHIN


Sea Urchins can be found all over the ocean floors and close to coral reefs across the UAE. Though it can feel like you are about to step on a mine, they play a critical role in maintaining the balance between the algae and coral. They are efficient by grazing on algae and promoting growth and restoration for coral communities. (If the algae are not removed, it would keep growing on top of coral and slow down coral growth).

They might not have brains, but they have teeth that are self-sharpening and are replaced every few months. These teeth can help them make their own caves and stay in place against the current. Always keep a meter or more from the seafloor to prevent being stung by a sea urchin or any other marine life. If you’re looking to sharpen your buoyancy and trim, get in touch about our PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course.


2. PARROT FISH




The bright coloured Parrotfish can be found by rock and coral dive sites in Dibba, Fujairah. Parrotfish are often found in schools of ­dozens, led by a dominant male that earned its spot by switching genders when the past supermale dies. In fact, some parrotfish change sex multiple times in a lifetime.

A fascinating fact about Parrotfish is their teeth. Their teeth are composed of ­fluorapatite, the ­hardest biominerals in the world, harder than ­copper, gold and silver. Most of the time, you’ll spot Parrotfish grazing on macroalgae. Their tightly packed teeth can reach macroalgae in places most marine organisms are not able to, making them invaluable for the ecosystem. Interestingly, Parrotfish discrete sand (approx. 200 pounds per year), which in turn upkeeps our beaches.


3. STINGRAYS




Watching stingrays glide gracefully in The Ocean is spectacular. Due to their shape and size, stingrays fly in groups across The Ocean, known as a fever of stingrays. With more than 200 species of stingrays, there is still much to be discovered. In the Gulf region, you can commonly find Oman Cownose Rays, Black Spot Stingray, Spotted Eagle Rays, Devil Rays and if lucky Manta Rays.


Stingrays are vital to the ecosystem as they are middle of the food chain. Even though they are linked to the shark due to having similar bone cartilage to predators of large sharks, some large fish and large rays. Most stingrays are bottom eaters feeding off clams, oysters, crabs, and worms. As they camouflage themselves to hide from predators on the sandy ocean floor, they can alter habitats physically, chemically and biologically.


4. PUFFERFISH



The slow-moving, awkward Pufferfish can be found across popular dive sites around the coast of Dibba, Fujairah. Do not be fooled by their big beautiful eyes, they have enough poison in them to kill 30 humans. This poison is called tetrodotoxin. As with all marine species, you must keep your distance as Pufferfish will blow up if they feel threatened.

Due to their poison, the only predators that Pufferfish need to watch out for is the shark and us, the humans. In Japan, eating Pufferfish is one their delicacies, only specially trained chefs can put this on your plate as the wrong cut could result in death. Pufferfish are omnivorous and thus eating plants such as algae that grow on rocks and coral along with crustacean animals.


5. CLOWN FISH




Now more popularly known as ‘Nemo’, there are more than 30 species of the clownfish around the Indian and the Pacific Ocean. In the UAE, they can be found across the shallow reefs in Fujairah, such as Snoopy Island, Sharm Rock, Martini Rock and Martini Wall.


Clownfish come across as juvenile creatures. They have a special relationship with sea anemones and often peak in-and-out them. These smart little creatures catch their dinner by swimming out from their anemone home and lure the fish in, only to be stung by the tentacles of the anemone. Clownfish are extremely useful to sea anemones as they clean them by eating parasites or dead tentacles and provide nutrients from their poop!


6. MORAY EELS




Like something out of the hit TV Series stranger things, the moray eel is quite possibly the most creepy but intriguing marine creatures to spot. They are camouflaged, hiding between rocks or small spaces, there’s great satisfaction when you can spot them! As nocturnal creatures, you can find them confidently swimming around as soon as nights began.

During the day, Moray Eels can often be found underneath rocks with their heads peeking out. They are everywhere across the east coast including Sharm Rock, Dibba Rock, Artificial Reef and Inchcape 1.



7. LIONFISH




Lionfish have a bad reputation as they consume more than 50 species – they are carnivores and can eat a fish all-in-one. As they produce up to 30,000 eggs in approximately four days, which mean they can take over and harm ecosystems. These stunning feathery creatures have more than 13 venomous spines. They’ll only use their venom for self-defence instead of hunting for their food, unlike Pufferfish, there’s no poison in their body. There’s been no recording of diver fatalities from Lionfish.

Predators of Lionfish include eels, large fish and humans.


8. CUTTLEFISH




Cuttlefish, known as the ‘Chameleons of the sea’, are fascinating due to their unique ability to mimic shapes, textures and change to any colour (even though they are colour blind!). During mating season, the male Cuttlefish changes colours to attract the female. Closely related to the Octopus and Squid, the Cuttlefish produces Sepia, an ink colour to confuse and hide away from their predators. Interestingly, the Cuttlefish has three hearts, their blood is a blue/green colour. They have a cuttlebone which helps their buoyancy.


9. TURTLES




Turtles have been around for millions of years, the oldest fossil discovered is at least 100 million years old. Tragically six out of the seven turtles are now threatened or endangered due to human activity. Three sea turtles have settled here in the UAE including the Hawksbill Turtle (Critically Endangered), Loggerhead Turtle (Threatened), and Green Turtle (Endangered).


You can find the turtles roaming around the gulf coast, they are ‘amniotes’ which means that they breathe air and lay their eggs on land but live primarily in the seawater. There’s no scuba gear required for turtles as they can hold their breath for up to five hours by slowing their heart rate to conserve oxygen.


10. TRUMPETFISH



The Trumpetfish are long and slim and often look like a floating stick. They grow up to 80 cm and can change colours to yellow, grey and brown. They blend in well with their surrounding, a diver can easily pass by without noticing because of these characteristics. You can often find these slow-moving creatures around the dive sites in Dibba, Fujairah.


All marine animals have their purpose in the ocean and play an important role to the ecosystem. We must keep protecting the oceans and strive to be better humans – it’s easy to forget the stunning array of coral and tropical fish that surrounds us. In fact, we are polluting and over-fishing the oceans at a rate that is currently putting all not just marine organisms in danger, but us too!


If you’re interested in seeing these magnificent creatures, get in touch today to book dive trips. Total beginners through to diving pros welcome.


Do you have any interesting facts that were missed in this article? Write your comments below!


TAGS: Clown Fish, Cuttlefish, Lionfish, Moray Eels, Parrotfish, Pufferfish, Sea Urchin, Stingray, Turtle


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