Shell Signs Agreement with ESO to Support Humpback Whale Acoustic Research

As part of its commitment towards the environment and sustainable development in Oman, Shell Oman has recently signed a sponsorship agreement with the Environment Society of Oman (ESO). The agreement signed by Chris Breeze, Shell’s Country Chairman in Oman; Adil bin Ismail Al Raisi, Managing Director of Shell Oman Marketing Company; and Her Highness Sayyida Tania bint Shabib Al Said, President of the Environment Society of Oman, will fund a study on acoustic research of Arabian Sea Humpback Whales in Oman.

Research studies supported by ESO estimate that there are less than 100 Arabian Sea Humpback Whales left in Oman’s waters. In order to protect this endangered and genetically unique subpopulation of Humpbacks, further research is critical. The study will focus on processing acoustic recordings of Arabian Sea Humpback Whales from recorders deployed over a two year period between 2011 and2013,  at Halaniyat Bay and the Gulf of Masirah.

Through the detection of vocalizing whales, ambient noise analysis and humpback whale song analysis the project will provide information on critical habitats, the impact of noise-related human activities and overall whale behaviour. The study will be done in collaboration with Dr. Salvatore Cerchio, a visiting scientist from the New England Aquarium.

Commenting on this programme, Her Highness Sayyida Tania Al Said, President of ESO said, “this ongoing research has been carried out for over 10 years by a dedicated and experienced team of scientists and we are honoured to have the unwavering support of the corporate sector to allow us to continue to do so.  I would like to thank Shell Oman for their partnership which will enable us to study the whale population more closely and enable us to move closer towards the conservation of this magnificent species that call Oman home.”

Mohammed Al Farsi, General Manager of External Affairs & Business Development in Shell Oman Marketing Company said: “We are looking forward to the contribution of this research to the conservation of biodiversity and marine ecosystems of Oman, and at the same time its impact on raising awareness about the cause. Shell Oman has a track record of supporting such environmentally-driven research programmes like the Whale & Dolphin Research Group, the Arabian Leopard Research and the Egyptian Vulture Research Project; and we are committed to our partnership with ESO to help preserve biodiversity in the Sultanate for future generations.”

Commenting on this occasion, Dr. Ali Al Lawati, General Manager of External Relations in Shell Development Oman stated: “This agreement is another step towards Shell’s continued contribution to the efforts of the Environment Society of Oman. Meeting the world’s growing energy needs and protecting the environment requires new technology, partnerships and ways of operating. Engaging the right expertise and conducting environmental research are key enablers along the way towards achieving these goals and ensuring a future that addresses environmental issues.”

This agreement comes after previous successful partnerships between Shell and the Environment Society of Oman that aimed to contribute to the preservation of Oman’s environment. Similar initiatives supported by Shell in the past include the launch of an environment curriculum (in partnership with the Ministry of Education) and the sponsorship of the Chief Scientist of British Schools Exploring Society’s expedition to Oman, the Global Flyway Network in Barr Al Hakman, a series of books about the environment, including “Birds in Oman” and “Whales and Dolphins of Arabia” and a study about Egyptian Vultures in partnership with ESO.

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