Recent bleaching/mortality event in United Arab Emirates

Jan Korrubel korrubelj at
Sun Jan 19 09:43:37 EST 1997

Dear Coral-List,

A multi-species coral bleaching event was recently (November 1996)
observed while on a diving survey in the southern Arabian/Persian Gulf
off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The area surveyed and found to be affected ranged from 1 to some 13
hours steam out of Abu Dhabi up the Gulf (towards Qatar).  In
particular, Arzanha and Zirku islands - with their very shallow (2-3m
fringing reefs) - were badly affected.

(1) an extensive fringing  _Porites lutea_ reef appears to be totally
destroyed, and is now completely settled over by sessiles and algal
Incidentally, we could find not a single urchin - Echinometra mathaii -
alive.  Lots of dead tests and spine material, but not a single live one.
(2) an _Acropora clathrata_ dominated reef in approx. 5-8m of water
was wiped out.  All _Acropora_ skeletons are now settled and
covered over with sessiles and turfs.  Lots of urchins at this
site however (just round the corner from the above mentioned site). 
Bleached species found were the massives _Platygyra_ and _Favia_ /
_Favites_ sp.

(1) an ex _Acropora_ dominated reef (previously destroyed by dredging
and harbour building activity) had lots of new settlement of small
(young) massives on the _Acropora_ rubble, that were now showing
evidence of bleaching, again: _Platygyra_ and _Favia_ / _Favites_ sp.

Dives in deeper water (approx 13-15m) between the islands also
yielded evidence of bleaching and coral mortality, but this time in addition
to those species previously mentioned, now also for the vase coral
_Turbinaria mesenteria_.  Some totally white specimens were observed,
while others showed only partial bleaching effects.

In addition, I also have evidence from another team of
researchers/divers working further south (off Jebel Ali, near Dubai),
that a similar mortality/bleaching event has been recorded there.  The
reefs there are largely _Acropora clathrata_ dominated, but also contain
many massive species.

I have no temperature data, but I am trying to get the data from an Abu
Dhabi based marine survey company.
I have however been in contact researchers in Bahrain, and Saudi
Arabia, who can be contacted for more info on the temperatures of the
Gulf waters at the time:

Dr. Roger Uwate
Directorate of Fisheries
P.O. Box 20071

Email: rogeru at


Dr. Yusef Fadlallah         
Research Institute - KFUPM 
Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

Voice: 966-3-860-3237
Fax:    966-3-860-3220
Email: yfadlal at


Jan L. Korrubel

University of Natal
South Africa

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list