Eritrean Reefs

Nathalie Stevenson N.J.Stevenson%burnmoor at
Thu Nov 21 11:12:42 EST 1996

                                        re ERITREAN REEFS 

Dear Coral list members, 

I am writing to you all to ask whether anyone has experience of the  
coral reefs in Eritrea, or in Yemen, or can put me in touch with  
anyone who has worked on the reefs of the southern Red Sea. 


Myself and 3 colleagues are planning an expedition to Eritrea in  
Sept-Oct 1997 to survey the reefs around Massawa.  

We already have the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources and 
they are providing 2 collaborators, and also the backing of the 
staff of the Centre for Tropical Coastal Management, here in 
Newcastle, who are acting as advisers. There is a Eritrean student 
here on the MSc course (also from the Ministry Natural Resources), 
who is helping with background info, contacts and so on. We also 
have the backing of Chris Hillman from the ODA in Eritrea and some 
help from staff at the University of Asmara (mainly Dr. Henrich  
Bruggemann) So you can see we are serious in this endeavour. 

Only 2 of us have previous overseas coral experience and as the 
Scientific leader (by dubious virtue of my MSc standing!!), it is my 
job to sort out methodology and so on. We have been asked to examine 
the effects of anthropogenic inputs on the corals around Massawa, 
and to our knowledge, there has been no previous survey work conducted 
in this area, except for an expedition from Oxford University. The  
Ministry have not conducted any coral surveys themselves. 

We will be there for 2 months and have set aside a week of 
orientation and species familiarisation and a week at the end for 
the preliminary write up so that only gives us 6 weeks for survey 
work. The expedition leader Tim Daw went out to Massawa earlier 
this year and is familiar with the industry etc in the area and it 
appears that there are no point sources of input (other than one 
cement factory). Consequently it may be difficult to identify 
pollution gradients, but we are going to try. Obviously we have 
nothing to compare against other than other sites further north and 
south of Massawa, (and this has dubious validity). 

The Eritreans want us to pass on as much useful information and  
technology as possible and i had thought that if we could train some  
of the ministry staff in methodology (they are already trained as  
novice divers but are lacking in confidence to conduct surveys  
themselves) then we would be able to set up permanent monitoring  
sites to provide information that we will not be able to provide in 2  
months, and provide information which could be used for REEFBASE. 

So I was hoping to incorporate some baseline survey work further 
north and south of Massawa, in addition to our anthropogenic 
studies, which are likely to be limited to nutrient analysis and 
sediment analysis, as well as the usual diversity, coral cover, 
fish counts and diadema counts (or similar). 


Can anyone advise on identification guides that may be of use which  
we can go though before departure, so that we can spend more time  
concentrating on species level identification on arrival.  

We particularly need information on algal reefs. Has anyone attempted  
studies into the effects of anthropogenic inputs on algal reefs  
anywhere? or could anyone suggest simple methods that could be used  
to investigate effects, preferably methods that can be passed on to  
the Ministry of Natural Resources and which require minimal  
equipment or inexpensive equipment. 

Although we are going in late 1997 we need to identify the main 
techniques we will employ so that we can then set about obtaining 
the necessary equipment. For instance, the Ministry only has one 
(very old) binocular microscope, and so we cannot rely on much from 
the other end.  

Any information, advice, contacts etc. gratefully recieved.  


Nathalie Stevenson 

Miss Nathalie Stevenson 

Centre for Tropical Coastal Management,  
Dept Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, 
The Ridley Building, 
University of Newcastle, 
NE1 7RU 

tel: +44 191 222 6659 
fax: +44 191 222 7891 
email n.j.stevenson at 

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