[Coral-List] Qatar Reefs

Iain Macdonald dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Jun 17 01:12:05 EDT 2008

Apparently i am now old enough to forget to hit the reply to all button.... for some this message is dejavu. Somebody may find the following useful.
I'll keep my post "short" and generalised as i can. I prefer to refer to coral communities rather than reefs around the nearshore of Qatar. Offshore it is generally a similar situation with a few exceptions. Most of the "coral shoals" locally known as "Fasht" are a thin venner of coral growth over a topograpical high point - e.g., old beach or salt dome. Beaches have the property here of creating beachrock within 30 years that could support hard substrate dependant fauna. The ultiamte "sustainable" building material........ 
Most of the north and east coast the coral communities are slowly recovering still only a few % live coral cover. Porites harrisoni tends to "dominate" very low density populations of corals (about another 10 species). I havent seen any Acroporids nearshore since the die-off in the mid 90's when they were very abundant nearshore. Offshore islands to the north east have Acroporids including Halul - a major oil handling facilitiy that acts as a pseudo MPA due to fishing and diving being fully restricted. Those islands in the south-east that i last visited in 2005 didnt have Acropora. I beleive this reflects the south-east islands not being in the path of prevailing currents and the spawning Acroporids from the UAE / Oman / Iran thus lack of planulae. I would be interested to here from Bahraini / Saudi workers if Acropora is on their reefs as this probably represents the feedstock for nearshore reefs in Qatar.    
Unfortunately coastal development in most guylf countries is likely to be having a toll on regional dynamics at least for the time being - long term picture may or may not be more encouraging. If i remeber correctly Charles Sheppard predicted mass mortailities every 10 years or so for this region from global warming so unless the adaptive bleaching hypothesis can quickly kick in the outlook may be bleak. On the other hand i have seen large (nearly 1 m dimeter) porties already in the nearshore. This summer the locals are telling me will be a hot one! 
Down most of the west coast there are very scarce coral colonies growing on hard bottom - something similar to the situation off North Carolina where i beleive we do not refer to this growth as reefs. Most maps with "reefs" marked along this coast are referring to the fact your boat will be holed by going near this featured rather than it being a bioherm formed by corals.  
The Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves are the entity responsible for monitoring and have worked with NCRI - they could also give you more information on places that need special permission to dive and have done a lot of good work with SCENR/EAD/WWF/DEL. The SCENR are about to release their environmental sensitivity map. The SCENR have a team of people to look at the coral reefs. I have no reports from them,however, they have said two papers shall soon be published by regional experts (based in the west). 
I have tried to get ReefCheck launched here for 3 years to get more public participation amd awareness the later of which is nearly zero, inshallah as they say. 
IYOR is certainly not widely known here, however, i have tried recently to get "Al-Jazzera" a bit more intetered and thus info to the Arabic speaking world and as a seperate push hopefully will get a local press release within the next few months mentioning IYOR and ICRS. 
I shall be attending ICRS if you or anybody else working in the area wishes to meet and chat about regional issues that we can work together on and synergise. 
I plan to visit some of your sites indicated on the spill map this summer to gain a better understanding if they are coral reefs or as i largely suspect hard bottom habitat. 
Feel free to contact me directly. 
Iain Macd.

--- On Sat, 14/6/08, Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:

From: Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Qatar Reefs
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Date: Saturday, 14 June, 2008, 5:23 PM

Greg,  I suspect you will soon hear from Ian Mcdonald who lives in 
Qatar and works on such problems.
I lived there for 2.5 years in the mid 1960s when oil pollution 
clearly was not a concern to the native population. In spite of this 
lack of concern, which  has changed since then or you would not be 
asking the question, I never observed negative effects of crude oil 
spills ( and there were many throughout the Gulf). As nearly as I 
could determine, high water temperatures during most of the year 
accelerated bacterial degradation of any spilled crude oil. The most 
devastating event was a cold snap in February 1964 that literally 
killed all the Acroporid corals around Qatar but spared brain corals. 
I described the event in (Shinn; E. A., 1976, Coral reef recovery in 
Florida and the Persian Gulf:  Environmental Geology, v. 1, p. 
241-254.)  Fish, sea snakes, and manatees, were also  killed by the 
cold along with many other forms of marine life.
Similar death of corals occurred during the 1997-98 worldwide el 
Nino. Coral biologist Ian Mcdonald was there to investigate that 
event.  Ok Ian, Your turn. Gene

No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
Marine Science Center (room 204)
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 
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