This paper presents preliminary data regarding the status, general distribution and habitat use of cetaceans, sirenian and marine turtle species inhabiting the Farasan Bank in the south-east of the Red Sea. The survey was conducted in April 2009 as part of a joint project by the Khaled Bin Sultan Living Ocean Foundation and the Saudi Wildlife Authority. With respect to habitat use of these species, the Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphius, were recognized in the offshore waters around the islands and the reefs; whereas the Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, showed a preference for deeper waters. The Humpbacked Dolphins, Sousa chinensis, were sighted near an island with mangrove swamps and the Spinner Dolphins, Stenella longirostris, inhabited sheltered shallow water. The Bryde's whales, Balaenoptera edeni, were found in offshore waters which are of high productively. The Dugongs, Dugong dugon, used shallow water habitats characterized by seagrass meadows. The habitat use of the marine turtles found in the study area was also distinct. The Hawksbill turtles, Eretmochelys imbricata, were recorded within the coral reefs, whereas the Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, were seen near the seagrass beds. The results of this study provide an important baseline data on the ranges and abundance of some endangered animals. These data along with a greater understanding of species distribution and habitat use will prove to be important for the proposing the Farasan Bank as Marine Protected Areas in this part of the Red Sea.
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