Marine Algae (Seaweeds) Associated with Coral Reefs in the Gulf

  • David M. John
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 3)


The extreme conditions in the Gulf makes it a very inhospitable environment for marine organisms including hard reef-building corals, other animals and benthic plants (including seaweeds). The annual fluctuations in seawater temperature and salinity in its extensive shallows are more extreme than encountered in coastal waters elsewhere. The low biological diversity of the Gulf is not only a consequence of the amplitude (at least 25°C) but several other factors, including the very high summer seawater temperature (>35°C) especially in the southern Gulf. Inshore salinity is also important and sometimes reaches 55 ppm in the summer and is significantly lower in the most northerly parts where there are inputs from rivers in Iraq and Iran, the most significant being the Tigris/Euphrates. Two episodes of coral bleaching in the southern Gulf in summer 1996 and 1998 resulted in widespread mortality of reef-building corals. Later bleaching events occurred in 2002 (mainly in the southern Gulf), 2007 (mainly Iran) and throughout the Gulf in 2010 (see Baker et al. 2008; Riegl and Purkis 2009, chapters 5 and 6). These were all the result of prolonged periods of seawater temperature above the long-term average maximum (George and John 2005).


Saudi Arabia Brown Seaweed Living Coral Coral Bleaching Coral Skeleton 
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The research on which much of this review is based was made possible by grant-aid provided by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) to the Natural History Museum, London for a marine survey of Abu Dhabi (UAE). We are most grateful to many former and present employees of ADCO, who provided logistic support, P. Hellyer and S. Aspinall for valuable assistance and advice, and T. Al Abdessalaam and E. Grandcourt of EAD who assisted the research in various ways. G. Lawson is thanked for analysing satellite data, Y. Chamberlain for kindly identifying the crustose coralline algae and Roda. Al-Thani (Qatar University, Doha) for assistance with publications on Qatari algae. Thanks go to Nautica Environmental Associates (Abu Dhabi), particularly V. Pappin, R. Hornby, G. Hornby and C. Teasdale who were of considerable assistance during visits to Abu Dhabi, colleagues at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London who were involved in field visits and C. Spurrier who accompanied me on post-2000 contracted surveys. Very special thanks to D. George (NHM) for his valued assistance, good advice and friendship over many years. I am much indebted to D. George (NHM), V. Pappin, C. Teasdale and E. Palmer (all Nautica EA) for kindly providing submarine photographs. Finally, thanks to the Botany Department at the NHM for providing facilities, supporting and encouragement during the Abu Dhabi research programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural History MuseumLondonUK

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