Krupp, F., Abuzinada, A.H. & Nader, I.A. (eds.), A Marine Wildlife Sanctuary for the Arabian Gulf. Environmental research and conservation following the 1991 Gulf War Oil Spill. NCWCD, Riyadh and Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt a.M.

Fishes and fish assemblages of the Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary

A b s t r a c t: The Arabian Gulf hosts approximately 540 fish species of which about 280 have so far been recorded from the Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary. There are distinctly different species assemblages occurring in nearshore and offshore areas. The reefs surrounding the five offshore islands of the Sanctuary host the largest number of reef fishes anywhere in the Arabian Gulf, including most of the endemic species that have so far been recorded.
Reef fishes were monitored annually along nine vertical and three horizontal transect lines between 1992 and 1995. Counts taken in 1992 and 1993 gave similar results, with an average of 34.0 species and 254.1 individuals per 100 m2 transect (1993 figures). In summer 1994, the average number of species recorded was 11 % higher at 38.3, while the number of individuals had doubled. Similarly high counts were obtained in 1995. While juvenile and adult reef fishes had escaped direct oil contamination, the reduced counts after the crisis may be attributed to a reduction of planktonic eggs and larvae caused by the oil slick, resulting in lower levels of recruitment onto the reef in 1992 and 1993. Fish populations had recovered from the oil spill by 1994. Naturally stressful conditions prevail in the Gulf and reef fish assemblages are threatened by oil pollution and habitat destruction. In these high latitude reefs, many tropical Indo-Pacific fishes live close to their physical limits, resulting in considerable natural fluctuations in their population densities which complicates the analysis of data obtained from visual censuses. A seasonal study over several years is recommended to adequately assess the fish population dynamics in the area.


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