Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shidvar Island Animal Habitat

Shidvar Island (جزیره شیدور) is an uninhabited island in the Persian Gulf lying southeast of Lavan Island. It has an area of 80 hectares and is part of Hormozgan Province. Shidvar Island is also known as Maroo, due to the many snakes present on the island, in particular vipers, and Shetor Island. Mean annual rainfall is low, less than 150mm, and temperatures are high, exceeding 42 degrees Celsius in summer months.  

The island is composed of coral conglomerate which above the high water mark is almost completely overlaid by sand dunes and some sandy soil. Of the few reefs that occur on the 2000 kilometer coastline of Iran, Shidvar Wildlife Refuge is the only existing protected area that includes them. A 2 meter high fragmented low-lying rock bank fringes the south, west and north-western shores. The remaining 40% of the shoreline is a narrow sandy beach which widens at the north-eastern corner to form a sandy spit. There are no springs or other sources of fresh water on the island. The sea bed around Shidvar Island is covered with shells, sea stars and some other forms of marine life due to its shallow depth. Waters around the island have been an excellent place for hunting pearls since ancient times.  

In view of low rainfall, the soil on Shidvar is mostly sandy. However, there are quite a few species of plants on the island. The vegetation in the eastern and central areas is dense and therefore difficult to pass through. The main bird species nesting on Shidvar Island are the Lesser Crested Tern, Crested Tern, and Bridled Tern. This island is considered one of the most important breeding areas for these migratory birds, which begin laying eggs in June. There are some reports of their egg collection by local fishermen. Due to its importance as a nesting site for migratory bird species, the island was nominated in 2000 as Iran's 20th international wetland site.  

This island has been reported as one of the most important nesting sites of sea turtles in Iran, especially the Hawksbill Turtles. The eastern beaches, with a length of one kilometer and the northern part, with a length of about two kilometers, are used by Hawksbill Turtles. The eastern and northern beaches of the island are sandy and suitable for the nesting of turtles. The eastern part of the island is smooth and flat, but the northern part is composed gradient beaches and is rocky in some places. The height of the dunes in this part of the island is approximately two meters. The nesting season for turtles begins in March and ends in June.  

It could be said, Shidvar Island has high potential for conservational activities, which in turn could play a positive role in the conservation of the regional population of Hawksbills. This assessment stems from the fact that Shidvar Island is not residential and is uninhabited, the adjacent island has a very low population, and there are no natural predators. Furthermore most of the active people in the area are young and have no interest in the turtles of Shidvar and their eggs.  

The only mammal species inhabiting Shidvar Island is the Dorcas Gazelle whom at some point in the past was released in the island and today has formed a sizable there.  

Shidvar Island was designated as a wildlife refuge in 1971. Visiting Shidvar Island is only possible by obtaining official permits as it is considered a protected area. 


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