Over 29 divers from Oman Sail, along with volunteers from Omantel, have completed an underwater reef clean-up project at the Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve to celebrate World Ocean Day. The initiative was supported by Omantel who partnered with Oman Sail and in collaboration with the Environment Authority to promote environmental sustainability and raise further awareness for action to preserve the oceans and minimise negative human impact on the marine environment.

Omani champion diver Omar Al Ghailani, former world’s deepest free dive record holder, joined the initiative, lending his considerable experience to reach discarded items lurking out of sight.

Held annually on 8 June, the action theme for this year’s World Ocean Day is ‘Catalysing Action for Our Ocean & Climate’, and the team of divers also cleaned the surface of the water to protect the many species of marine and bird life calling the nature reserve home.

Unfortunately, damage to the coral reefs due to discarded and lost fishing gear have disturbed the patterns of many species and threaten the health of the sea life. Many fish, turtles and birds ingest plastic left in the oceans or get caught in washed up fishing nets.

Saba Said Al Busaidi, Corporate Affairs Senior Manager at Omantel, said, “At Omantel, it is vitally important to raise awareness of the need to protect our marine environment, the oceans provide us with connectivity to more than 120 cities around the world through our submarine cables. Oman is blessed with such diversity that we must maintain and help to thrive. Being able to support this initiative is a great honour and we hope it will inspire visitors to the reefs to be more mindful about the impact they are having on the country and communities that rely on the islands.”

Khamis Al Anbouri, Oman Sail’s Acting Commercial Director, added, “Oman Sail and indeed SeaOman are uniquely placed to witness first hand the disruption to the Dimaniyat Island reefs and it is our duty to lend our expertise to restore a beautiful area of national importance. We are passionate supporters of our oceans and encourage everyone across the nation to do all they can to keep our coastlines clean, for World Ocean Day and every day.”

Oman’s coastline spans approximately 3,165 kilometres (1,967 miles), more than double the distance between Muscat and Salalah, which makes the nation’s marine wildlife especially vulnerable to changes in the climate. Rises in sea levels, increased water temperatures and disruption to the food chains can have disastrous effects on global marine life.

The Dimaniyat Islands is Oman’s  first marine nature reserve and home to some of the nation’s best-developed coral reefs. Over 100 species of coral fish and 579 species of reef fish, as well as globally endangered turtles, whales, sharks and dolphins all visit the islands each year to breed and nest in the warm waters.

The islands have become a hot spot for local and international divers and snorkelers drawn to the area’s numerous dive sites. As a result, the Dimaniyat Islands are an important ecotourism destination for the national economy and forms a key component of the National Strategy for Fisheries 2040 and a key site in maintaining environmental sustainability in line with Oman’s Vision 2040.