[Coral-List] Re: Coral-List Digest, Vol 23, Issue 13, Bahrain may build horse-shaped island

Bernhard Riegl rieglb at nova.edu
Tue May 17 16:17:43 EDT 2005

Dear Listers,
Regarding exciting, large-scale dredge-and-fill projects in the Arabian Gulf:

Dubai is currently building three Palm-shaped Islands. The easternmost is 
situated in what used to be the Jebel Ali Marine Reserve. Home of the 
Arabian Gulf's second most biodiverse (documented) marine system, and 
smack-bang on a coral reef (actually, more a biostrome, but the differences 
are academic for this purpose).
The management of Jebel Ali marine reserve was taken away from the Dubai 
Municipality Protected Areas Unit and handed to the entity building the 
Palm Island.
EIAs were supposedly conducted, however, the presence of one of the eastern 
Gulf's richest coral ecosystems apparently made no difference.
It goes without saying that artificial structures will never be a 
substitute for what is being destroyed (although this claim is being widely 
circulated by the developers). Even if they theoretically could be, the 
enormity of the dredge-and-fill is radically altering the hydrological and 
sedimentological regimes, causing widespread mortality in neighboring 
ecosystems, and so precluding rapid (or maybe any) recolonization. Even if 
corals should settle on the breakwaters at some later stage, the natural 
dynamics of the system would be irreplaceably altered.
Besides the death of one of the most important coral ecosystems on the UAE 
mainland coast, the academic fall-out is that a 10-year collaborative coral 
monitoring program between Dubai Municipality and NCRI has come to an 
abrupt end.

If you want to know more about what is presently being buried, you are 
invited to read:

Purkis SJ, Riegl B (2005) Spatial and temporal dynamics of Arabian Gulf 
coral assemblages quantified from remote-sensing and in situ monitoring 
data (Jebel Ali, Dubai, U.A.E.). Marine Ecology Progress Series 
287:99-113.  (Colorful maps outlining ecological landscape dynamics of the 
now defunct coral ecosystem underneath Palm III; the work was finished in 
Jan 2004, when the dredging and filling just began).

Riegl, B. (1999) Coral communities in a non-reef setting in the southern 
Arabian Gulf (Dubai, UAE): fauna and community structure in response to 
recurrent mass mortality. Coral Reefs 18(1): 63-73. (temporal ecological 

Riegl, B. (1998) A new reef marine reserve in the southern Arabian Gulf: 
Jebel Ali, Dubai (UAE). Coral Reefs 17(4): 398 (naive optimism about 
conservation of Dubai's marine resources)

If you are interested, several other paper by the authors exist about the 
same area.

Other exciting dredge-and-fill projects:

A causeway linking Qatar and Bahrain
A causeway linking Qatar and Abu Dhabi
(Both these causeways cut right through the habitat that is home to the 
world's second largest Dugong population, numerous reefs, etcetc.)
New Doha International Airport (right on fringing reef south of Doha)
large-scale fill project in Fujairah in immediate vicinity, if not directly 
on, coral.
The famous sea-horse
...and the list goes on...

UAE, Qatari and Bahraini environmental agencies are trying hard to regulate 
and reduce impacts, however, one cannot help but be amazed by the sheer 
size of these projects, how apparently unstoppable they are, and what 
massive, unmitigatable impacts they have on the coastal zone.
Bernhard Riegl

>Message: 6
>Date: Tue, 17 May 2005 10:51:41 +0200
>From: "Paul Erftemeijer" <paul.erftemeijer at wldelft.nl>
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Yahoo! News Story - Bahrain May Build Sea
>         Horse-ShapedIsland - Yahoo! News
>To: "Vanese Flood" <vanesef at yahoo.com>
>Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Message-ID: <00c901c55abd$a5cb4c90$8fe10991 at wl10815>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>Dear Vanese,
>We carried out some advisory work in Bahrain in 2003. Part of the work
>included site-selection of areas suitable for artificial reefs, the results
>of which were also published recently in a paper, of which I attach the pdf.
>Although not primarily addressing your question, you may find some
>interesting bits of information in the paper, particularly in the
>I hope you may find the paper of interest.
>With best regards,
>Paul Erftemeijer
>Dr. Paul L.A. Erftemeijer
>senior advisor marine ecology
>WL | delft hydraulics
>P.O. Box 177
>2600 MH Delft
>The Netherlands
>Tel: (+31) 015-2858924
>Fax: (+31) 015-2858718
>E-mail: paul.erftemeijer at wldelft.nl
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Vanese Flood" <vanesef at yahoo.com>
>To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 2:39 PM
>Subject: [Coral-List] Yahoo! News Story - Bahrain May Build Sea
>Horse-ShapedIsland - Yahoo! News
> > Hey Listers,
> > Would be interested in hearing comments from those in
> > the know on this and other potentially damaging land
> > "reclamation" projects.
> > Vanese Flood
> >
> > Some quotes from the yahoo news story:
> > "But the plan is already raising concerns it will bury
> > a coral reef and cause other damage to the fragile
> > marine environment, which supports a wide
> > variety of species - including sea horses...
> >
> > "A third of the country's coral reefs have already
> > been destroyed over the past two decades by
> > reclamation and waterfront development, al-Qaseer
> > said.
> >
> > "The developer of the Dubai project said it was trying
> > to counteract some of the damage by building
> > artificial reefs, where, it said, sea life will
> > thrive."
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------
> > Time flys like an arrow.
> > Fruit flies like a banana.
> > ---------------------------

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

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