Feltkamp, E. & Krupp, F. (eds.), Establishment of a Marina Habitat and Wildlife Sanctuary for the Gulf Region. Final report of phase II. Jubail, Frankfurt a.M.

Effect of the Gulf War Oil Spill on the Supratidal Fringe, with Special Reference to the Strandline Habitat

A b s t r a c t: The supralittoral fringe was the most severely affected part of the intertidal following the 1991 oil spill; it was covered by a continuous layer of tar and oiled sediments. Regular visits to 10 Permanent Transect Lines and other localities within the study area revealed that the strandline lost most of its characteristic biota. In summer 1993 there was still no sign of recovery, except on the steep exposed beaches on Abu Ali Island and the offshore coral cays Karan and Kurain. The strand line communities of non-oiled control sites were studied, and the major ecological successions and their key/indicator species identified for future monitoring. Recovery of oiled strandlines can only be expected after habitat restoration by artificial cleaning.


additional information:

Conclusions and objectives for further studies
Three distinct successional stages of a Sargassum strandline in the Gulf have been observed and the main components (key species) of these communities have been identified. As these indicator species are active throughout the year in the Gulf, the ecological condition (polluted/unpolluted; successional stage) of any given strandline can now easily be documented at any time by a simple presence/absence test. Although this qualitative approach will prove very useful for ad hoc monitoring or rapid assessments, a more quan­titative approach should follow. This is best done by studying the autecology of selected key species. Besides missing information on phenology, exact biomass estimates and their (seasonal?) fluctuations are needed for a basic understanding of the energy flow at the supratidal fringe.