The bay of Salalah lies midway along the southeast-facing coast of the Arabian Peninsula, 50 kilometres from the Yemeni boarder on the coast of Oman. Here the deep water basin of the Arabian Sea reaches closer to the shoreline than at any other point along the 1500 kilometre length of the Arabian coast.
The climate of southern Oman both above and below the seas is heavily influenced by the monsoons and their effect on the ocean currents in the Indian Ocean. The prevailing oceanic currents created by the winds of the Southwest Monsoon bring cold, nutrient-rich water to the ocean surface, fostering intense phytoplankton activity that is the base of the one of the world’s last great unspoiled marine ecosystems.
Phytoplankton is an extremely diverse microscopic organism that lives in watery environments, both salty and fresh. Most are single-celled plants and like land plants, phytoplankton have chlorophyll to capture sunlight, and they use photosynthesis to turn it into chemical energy. When conditions are right, phytoplankton populations can grow explosively, a phenomenon known as a bloom. Blooms in the ocean may cover hundreds of square kilometres and are easily visible in satellite images. A bloom may last several weeks, but the life span of any individual phytoplankton is rarely more than a few days.
In the world’s oceans the effect of the cold, nutrient rich up-welled waters on the region’s ecology can be dramatic as the following satellite photos of the distribution of phytoplankton chlorophyll in the Arabian Sea shows. The vast red areas and swirls along the coast of Oman in the drawings below correspond to very high levels of phytoplankton. Where there is phytoplankton there are also huge shoals of small fish that feed on it. Where there are vast concentrations of phytoplankton and small fish the bigger game fish won’t be far behind, making the waters along Salalah’s coast potentially one of the best fishing grounds in the world’s oceans.
Hence, the increasing popularity of big game fishing, where the catch of the day varies from Yellowfin Tuna, Stripped Bonito, Giant Trevally, Mahi Mahi to Red Snapper. It’s not unusual to see pods of Dolphins, Manta Rays and Turtles pass you by as you trawl the sea. Many operators offer group tours and even overnight stays.
One operator, No Boundaries, also started a Tag and Release program for Giant Trevally in 2012. It was the first of its kind in the Middle East with over 300 fish tagged, the majority being over 30kg.
If fishing is a hobby or conservation is your thing, remember to visit Salalah on your next overseas trip.