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Location Saudi Arabia, Ash Sharqiyah
Central coordinates 50o 5.80' East  26o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B3
Area 41,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Saudi Wildlife Commission (Affiliate)



Site description A clear, shallow, predominantly sandy bay with extensive seagrass beds; Qatif is on its west side and Dammam on the south. Local factors make the intertidal zone the richest in the Saudi Arabian sector of the Gulf: the bay is well-protected from winds and from water currents, allowing sedimentation of the finest particles, and a large nutrient input is provided by run-off from the Qatif oases and by organic waste effluent. The extensive intertidal flats of sand-mud and mud were formerly fringed by extensive mangrove and saltmarshes, but much of these have now been destroyed by land-claim. The bay is an important nursery for shrimps and fish and sustains several traditional fishing communities. It contains one of the largest oil facilities in the world and includes several important archaeological sites.

Key Biodiversity See boxes for key species. The bay is the most important site for wintering and migrating waders and other waterbirds on the Saudi Arabian Gulf coast, with a total of c.58,000 waterbirds wintering in 1991/92, and more than 20,000 present in April-May 1991. See box for key species: breeding species nest on Za'l, a small island; winter figures are for February 1993; migration figures are incomplete through lack of comprehensive surveys in autumn, but most of the key wintering species, plus additional waterfowl, are likely to migrate through in significant numbers, especially the waders. Other wintering species include Aquila clanga (6; much declined since 1983 when c.20 present, perhaps due to land-claim of mangrove) and Pandion haliaetus (11).

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Dugong dugon (V). Reptiles: Chelonia mydas (E; important feeding area).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Egretta gularis resident  1991  186 breeding pairs  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Egretta gularis winter  1991  334-435 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea winter  1991  467-528 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo winter  1991  4,850-5,340 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Haematopus ostralegus winter  1991  495 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Himantopus himantopus winter  1991  318-390 individuals  good  B1i  Not Recognised 
Charadrius alexandrinus winter  1991  1,844-2,755 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola passage  1991  1,469 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  1991  1,708-1,716 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus passage  1991  2,580 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus winter  1991  243-2,160 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii winter  1991  901-3,496 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  1991  4,900-4,955 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica passage  1991  5,136 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  1991  1,795-3,277 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus winter  1991  183-206 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  1991  1,820-2,336 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Near Threatened 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus passage  1991  2,895 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus winter  1991  1,415-1,670 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres passage  1991  1,505 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres winter  1991  948-1,104 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris passage  1991  108 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Vulnerable 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  1991  6,527-7,800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Broad-billed Sandpiper Calidris falcinellus winter  1991  331-645 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans winter  1991  1,632-2,840 individuals  good  B1i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica winter  1991  315-419 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Not Recognised 
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei winter  1991  3,641-4,480 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia winter  1991  236-424 individuals  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1991  1,250 nests  good  B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1991  10,000 nests  medium  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1991  20,000-49,999 individuals  good  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1991  11,436 breeding pairs  good  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2013 low not assessed low
unset
Unknown

Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Not assessed  low 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   major
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Coastline   major
Artificial - terrestrial   major
Forest   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
urban/industrial/transport major
fisheries/aquaculture major
agriculture major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by P. Symens and A. Suhaibani.

References Basson et al. (1981), Evans and Keijl (1993a).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tarut Bay. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/12/2014

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