Arabian Sea

Arabian Sea

Arabian Sea is the contiguous sea of the Indian Ocean. It borders the northern part of the Indian Ocean. Being blocked from the north, this sea is characterized by high tropical temperature regime, reversal of monsoon which in turn results in reversal of the currents, presence of large oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) and limited upwelling confined to Oman/Yemen and Somalia. The Arabian Sea has some of the most extreme climatic regimes due to seasonal fluctuations in air and water temperatures. Thus, it harbors excellent examples of ecosystem responses to natural environmental stresses.

A diversity of marine habitats exist here including mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds that provide important breeding and nursery habitats for many important animals. It supports large fisheries in India, Pakistan, Oman and Yemen. Persian Gulf and Red Sea are two adjacent high saline habitats which discharge into Arabian Sea.

    Habitat Type

    Tropical and subtropical oceanic environment

    Geographic Location

    Waters off the Arabian Peninsula, North of the Indian Ocean

    Local Species

    Seasonal brown, green, and red algal flora, including several endemic species, represents important components of this region's biodiversity. Upwelling effects result in highly productive pelagic waters and high plankton productivity that support an enormous diversity of small herbivores.

    A wide variety of invertebrates and algae exist. A large variety of fishes most of which are of commercial importance found in the Arabian Sea. Arabian Sea is rich in mesopelagic resources dominated by lantern fishes especially Benthosema pterotum and B. fibulatum. Arabian Sea has also a well-diversified invertebrate fauna including commercially important molluscs, crustacean (crab, shrimp, and lobster), coelenterates, echinoderms etc.

    Found in the Arabian Sea are Dugong (Dugong dugon), and several species of turtles, including green turtle (Cheloniamydas), hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelysimbricata), and olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelysolivacea). Of the baleen whales, recorded have been Bryde's whales (Balaenopteraedeni), minke whales (B. acutoristrata), fin whales (B. physalus), blue whales (B. musculus), and Arabian humpback whales (Megapteranovaengliae).

    Toothed whales include sperm (Physetermacrocephalus), orca (Orcinus orca), and false killer (Pseudorcacrassidens). At least a dozen species of dolphins (Family, Delphinidae) as well as the finless porpoise (Neophocaenaphocaenoides) exist in the Arabian Sea.


    The Arabian Sea is a center for oil shipping. As a result oil spills, anchor damage, sedimentation, and other pollution effects are a real threat. Fishing pressures, destructive fishing methods e.g. gillnetting, dynamiting, residential and commercial development, and effluent discharge have resulted in altered species composition in many areas. Recreation and tourism also contribute to eutrophication and reef degradation in some areas. War-related activities are another source of environmental damage.

    What WWF-Pakistan is doing?

    WWF–Pakistan has initiated a number of projects under Marine Programme for conservation and protection the marine biodiversity which include study of tuna fisheries, cetacean, turtles and mangroves as well as study of the biological and fisheries potential of the Indus estuarine system.