Atlantis Dubai extends 1 USD conservation programme for another year – Business Traveller

Atlantis Dubai has selected nine local and international conservation and sustainability projects to receive funding from its Atlantis Atlas Project 1 USD initiative.

From June 2022 to May 2023, for every marine animal experience participated in by a guest, Atlantis Dubai contributed US$1, resulting in a US$140,000 fund.

In the programme’s first year, Atlantis contributed US$120,000 of funding, and since launching in June 2021, the 1 USD contribution initiative has raised over a quarter of a million dollars.

Since April, organisations around the world were invited to apply for funding, after which proposals were solicited and assessed by the internal Atlantis Conservation and Science Committee.

Atlantis Atlas Project currently focuses on four key groups of wildlife; sharks, rays, dolphins, and corals, and two key threats to the ocean; unsustainable seafood and plastic pollution.

With this in mind, projects were selected based on their support of these conservation goals.

This year, the 1 USD contribution fund will continue to support five organisations from the previous year, as well as three new organisations.

The new project partners for 2023-2024 include Emirates Environmental Group, Fujairah Research Centre and Veterinary School of Toulouse.

The Emirates Environmental Group was selected for its ‘For Our Emirates We Plant’ campaign. The project funding will be used for urban afforestation programmes, educational workshops, and community engagement programmes.

The Fujairah Research Centre will support research providing important information about local species and biodiversity in the Gulf of Oman using Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods. The team will collect water samples and extract DNA to determine species in the water, monitor water quality and detect any harmful bacteria in the water.

The Veterinary School of Toulouse meanwhile will have a study led by Dr Fabienne Delfour to understand the impact that human activities can have on wild dolphin populations. The team will collect skin and fecal samples through non-intrusive methods to assess dolphin stress levels within multiple species, which will help inform future conservation actions.

The six partners that Atlantis Dubai will continue to support this year after having done so the previous year too include the United Arab Emirates University (for two programmes), the Zayed University, Goumbook, IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group and New York University Abu Dhabi.

Another year of funding has been initiated with the United Arab Emirates University to support their study of two critically endangered chondrichthyan species in local waters. Last year the project tagged 25 sharks and stingrays in the Arabian Gulf. This year, the project will investigate population genetics, providing critical insight into the status and population dynamic of these animals.

Additionally, Atlantis Dubai’s funding will support a new research project from the United Arab Emirates University to develop and enhance Fujairah coral reef restoration by creating artificial reef shapes from recycled oyster shells. This study is expected to provide key information on the optimal use of artificial reefs in supporting UAE biodiversity through the rehabilitation of its ecosystems.

Also seeing a continuation in its funding is Zayed University. UAE-based researcher, Dr Ada Natoli, will lead on the Dubai Dolphin Survey, which supports boat-based research of local dolphin populations. During the last two years, this project saw a total of 100 boat surveys spanning a distance of 8,759km along the UAE coastline and more than 450 man-hours, with dolphins spotted 28 times. This year’s project will focus on gaining more precise estimates of the marine mammals identified and engage with local authorities to support and advise on dedicated conservation measures.

Funding will also continue for the UAE’s Goumbook on their ‘Save The Butts’ campaign. This initiative sees the collection of cigarette butts littering beaches and public areas and uses circular economy principles to recycle the waste to create valuable material from it. So far the project has conducted 46 beach clean ups with over 1,800 volunteers and recycled over 500,700 cigarette butts. This year will focus on establishing collection points around the UAE and continuing with public awareness through ongoing beach clean up programmes.

The 1 USD contribution initiative will also provide a further year of funding to support the position of Program Officer for the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group, led by UAE-based Dr Rima Jabado. The IUCN specialist group plays a pivotal role in the in the development and implementation of conservation strategies for sharks, rays, and chimaeras globally.

Funding will also be provided once again to New York University Abu Dhabi to support their investigations into the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems in the Gulf.

“The nine projects we have chosen demonstrate significant expertise, ingenuity and innovation in their work to protect our environment and the ocean while sharing our conservation goals – and the need to accelerate progress towards them,” said Tim Kelly, managing director and executive vice president of Atlantis Dubai.

atlantis.com



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