[Coral-List] Corals in the Gulf

David Obura dobura at africaonline.co.ke
Mon Sep 15 02:53:07 EDT 2008

Dear listers,

Thanks to the responses we got from Gabriel's request for maps of the Gulf,
and with the passion of responses I think its worth highlighting the issues
that came up.

Nomenclature - apologies for the naming problems, and those of us without
much contact with the region will have to be left calling it the
Arabian/Persian or the Persian/Arabian gulf - unfortunately there are rarely
strong enough precedents on who named what first to know which is the most
appropriate for all people. We do hope a regional agreement will be able to
sort this out for us!

The higher thermal tolerance of corals that historically inhabited the gulf
IS an important fact that researchers made us aware of as far back as the
1970s. It shows that corals/zooxanthellae CAN survive at higher temperaures
than are normally found in MOST reef provinces. Three points on this:

1) Whether corals in the latter can adapt/acclimate to temperatures normal
for the former in the time scales we are dealing with is entirely another

2) That the corals in the gulf are almost non-existent because of the
classical human impacts of pollution and construction are another matter.

3) And perhaps more pertinently to our discussion on
acclimatization/adaptation thresholds, these high-temperature tolerant
corals have so far been vulnerable to the anomalously high temperatures they
have experienced to the same extent as corals acclimated to cooler

None of this negates the current paradigm that corals can/do acclimate to
different local temperature regimes, but we don't know a) the absolute
maximum, and b) the limiting rates of change. Further, it makes the clear
point that unless we deal with everything else that is damaging reefs there
won't be much capacity, or indeed any left, to deal with current and future

All best,



CORDIO East Africa
9 Kibaki Flats, Kenyatta Public Beach
P.O.BOX 10135 Mombasa 80101, Kenya
Tel: +254-733-851656 (cell)

Chair, IUCN working group on Climate Change and Coral Reefs
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland
Adjunct Senior Scientist, New England Aquarium

Email: dobura@
@cordioea.org  <>  @africaonline.co.ke  <>  @neaq.org 

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