Qatar Natural History Group Takes 15-Hour Dhow Expedition to Halet Al Ouisry
Twenty members of Qatar Natural History Group (QNHG) recently embarked on a 15-hour dhow expedition to Halet Al Ouisry for an enroute pelagic bird watching, sunset and sunrise vigils and stargazing.
The group sailed past the iconic Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif, Amiri Diwan, Corniche and West Bay Sheraton Hotel. They also passed by NOBU, Katara, The Pearl-Qatar, and sailed into Sailiya and Aaliya Islands with Qetaifan Island North as backdrop.
Armed with binoculars and cameras, they spotted an impressive number of flying cormorants, terns, seagulls, and a solo hunting osprey amidst numerous yachts and boats surrounding the dhow boat. At 9 pm, they also witnessed the the spectacular Corniche Eid fireworks.
The group proceeded to sail eastwards offshore for nearly another five hours towards Halet Al Ouisry where they anchored to stargaze and to rest and sleep.
Sharao Island, which can be reached after another three-hour cruise, is Qatar’s furthermost offshore island before the international border with Iran. This part of the Gulf Region is believed to be associated with the salt diapirism sourced in the Infracambrian Hormuz Salt Series.
Despite getting to their intended spot with minimal light pollution, their intent to observe the Milky Way and the Aquariid Meteor shower were hampered by the presence of cloud and dust associated with the Rasha Season, considered the last rainy season. They did, however, observed a handful of stars including Vega, Deneb and Altair. These are part of the summer triangle asterism and are part of Lyra (The Harp), Cynus (The Swan), and Aquila (The Eagle) constellations, respectively.
This excursion, according to trip organisers Claire Kelly and Omer Aziz, is sure to linger long in the minds of those who came with their open minds.
Qatar Natural History Group is probably one of the oldest associations created in Qatar. It was founded in November 1978 to bring together people with an interest in the natural history of Qatar and the Gulf. The inaugural meeting was held in the grounds of the National Museum and the Founding President was Jassim Zaini, Director of then Department of Tourism and Archaeology, at the Ministry of Information.
The QNHG has an international membership. Its interests cover not only all aspects of natural history but also the culture, history and archaeology of Qatar. The group is run by volunteers, each of whom undertake various responsibilities and work together in the Steering Committee. Meetings and activities usually take place between October and June, and include talks and field trips to explore the many aspects of the Qatari desert environment.
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