[Coral-List] Climate change - Arabian Gulf as a case study

Bernhard Riegl rieglb at nova.edu
Tue Jun 8 22:18:23 EDT 2004

Hello Kate and Ian,
Further to Ian MacDonald's remark: Yes, indeed, the Arabian Gulf was pretty 
badly hammered by the three mentioned temperature anomalies. Featuring it 
as an example for the effects of climate change would indeed be a good 
thing and could help to coax local decision-makers into action to help 
relieve at least some of the most blatant man-made abuses these reefs are 
subjected to (we won't be able to do much about the climate...).
Here I would also like to draw attention to the excellent work in the 
region by Charles Sheppard ,  by David George and David John, Yussuf 
Fadlallah and Steve Coles.
However, I would hesitate to completely write the Gulf off. It might indeed 
turn out to be an example how corals reefs could learn to cope with global 
temperature increases. We have seen quite startling evidence of apparent 
phenotypic adaptation, where coral species that bleached in 96 and 98 did 
not bleach in 2002. But more work is needed to substantiate that (those of 
you who will be in Okinawa will have a chance to hear the latest). In any 
case, good coral areas can still be found and, being an eternal optimist, I 
hope that they will remain (some severe degradation in certain regions 
will, however, likely be unavoidable). So there really is an interesting 
story to be found there.
Ian makes a good point in citing the "lights at the end of the tunnel".
He makes an even better point in stressing the value of highlighting the 
plight of Arabian Gulf reefs. Few reefs are under more heat (in the truest 
sense of the word) from global climate change and human activities in the 
coastal zone. Anything we can do to convince local decision-makers of their 
value (and the fact that they will likely be able to persist somehow - so 
should not all be dredged away) will go a long way to preserving a valuable 
and threatened ecosystem!
Best wishes
Bernhard Riegl

Bernhard Riegl, PhD
National Coral Reef Institute
Oceanographic Center
Nova Southeastern University
8000 N. Ocean Drive, Dania
FL 33004
(954) 262-3671 phone
(954) 262-4098 fax

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