Abstracts Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 166.1994, Frankfurt a.M.

The status of fish populations in the northern Arabian Gulf two years after the 1991 Gulf War oil spill

A b s t r a c t: Fish species were recorded in nearshore areas between Abu Ali and Ras az-Zaur and at four offshore reefs. Compared to other regions of the tropical Indo-Pacific, the number of records (187 species) is low but it exceeds all previous reports from the area. Benthic and demersal species were counted along 12 coral reef transects north of Abu Ali and near the offshore islands of Karan, Kurain and Jana. Despite the oil spill, fish populations in the area were in a healthy condition without any visible signs of oil damage. Recruitment by larvae occurred at normal levels. Species diversities and population densities were within the expected range when compared to pre-war data published in the literature. Distinctly different dominant species occur at nearshore and offshore reefs. The species diversity and population densities are significantly higher at the offshore reefs while the seasonal variation in these parameters is particularly high at the nearshore reefs. During the cold winter of 1991/92 many reef fishes, among them all angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) and butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) disappeared from the Abu Ali area, with only juveniles being found the following summer and autumn. During the milder winter of 1992/93 many of these fishes remained in the area and in the summer of 1993 much larger specimens from these two families were present.


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