[Coral-List] Corals in the Gulf

Iain Macdonald dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Sep 16 17:40:33 EDT 2008

On the nomeculture the agreed non-political name is the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) Sea Area. A mouth full for sure but there will never be settlement on the choice of either Arabian (predominately favoured by Gulf Arabs) or Persian (predominately favoured by persians and the UK/US admiratilies - yes they can agree on something....). The ROPME sea area covers the whole gulf and out into the gulf of oman, basicaly what is designated a special area under MARPOL 73/78. If you do use ROPME Sea area in internet based forums be prepared for compliants from people who dont know what it means and obviously havent found the full usefulness of the internet.
The ROPME sea area has been well known for temperature and salinity tolerant (in terms of both being very variable and certain higher than the norm) marine species and not just coral since the late 50's. Such a shame there is little published work easily available on the current status by ROPME who are the regional co-ordinators for such efforts. 
Most maps depiciting coral reefs around Qatar are wrong as based on Admiratly Maps that are vague and difficult to differentiate between coral reefs and coral carpet bedrock. his includes reefs of the world. Most maps depiciting the actual land border around Qatar are also wrong....due to recent events in the last decades. There are a number of marine areas with Fasht (where land may be exposed at spring low tides) and other islands under debate to their ownership within the region so care should be taken when highlighting these. These areas along with other "protected" sites can still have excellent / recovering coral communities.
The gulf around Qatar a few thousand years ago was around 2 m deeper and allowed development of coral communities probably due to reduced thermal variation and more normal salinity. At the moment there only appears to be a few super toelrant Faviids and Porites with Acropora not particularly making a refuge in the gulf and depending on stock from further afield to supply recruitment. 
I'll Send you some seperate info on distribution around Qatar off-line once i am back in the region and contact details for the local Ministry of Environment who are responsible for monotoring in Qatar.
Best of luck and let us know your publication detials.
Iain Macd.   

--- On Mon, 15/9/08, David Obura <dobura at africaonline.co.ke> wrote:

From: David Obura <dobura at africaonline.co.ke>
Subject: [Coral-List] Corals in the Gulf
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: Monday, 15 September, 2008, 7:53 AM

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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