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Kuwait Dive Team Examines Coral Bleaching

Team Report

In September, The Kuwait Dive Team, “Guardians of the Sea,” resumed their inspection studies of the most important coral reef locations in the sea of the south of Kuwait. The purpose was to investigate closely the present state of area coral reefs and determine the percentage of bleaching in each individual study location in addition to the corals’ general health condition, and the most affected species of coral.
KDT realized that all locations of coral reefs in the southern parts of Kuwait’s sea (some 70 km of coastline in the southern border area of Kuwait) were affected by bleaching. The survey sampled different sites at each study location and depths ranging from one to 13 meters. The general percentage bleaching was determined based on the corals’ color variation (ranging from blue-white to beige) within sample areas of approximately 20 square meters in each site/location. Additionally, the team recorded partial damage.” “Damage” is used throughout the report to indicate an abnormal state of corals (e.g. bleached, dead, or unhealthy in general). “Partial damage” means that parts or edges of coral colonies suffered from bleaching or losing part of the coral colony’s natural color.
The identified damage percentage depended on the surveyed number of each type of coral and the unaffected number. The stated types named herein are those that have considerable spread in the study locations.
Qitaat Benaya Reef-Khairan:
The overall  percentage of damage to the reef in this area in the far south of Kuwait is approximately greater than 95% of the entire location and affects the entire colony, from the coral’s top, 30 cm below the surface  to the depth of approximately 30 meters; the water temperature is 33° C (91.5° F). The Porites compressa species , which features huge sizes, dominates the south and west sides of the colony and (the smaller-sized bright blue corals are relatively are unaffected, but are fewer in number). The Platygyra daedalea type, characterized by the huge domed shapes, dominates over the mid-eastern area corals; they are affected 100%. There are also other species, such as Pavona decussata and Acropora clathrata that are about 60% affected. Nevertheless, brown, bright blue, and black sponges are growing regularly and naturally.
Raas Al-Zour Reef:
Damage percentage exceeds nearly 97% for the Porites compressa species, which dominates the whole colony and is aligned in huge blocks (except the far fewer ones of bright blue color). Also, there are large areas of coral colonies that are affected by bleaching but that have various types of fungi growing on them, indicating that they were affected before others. The water temperature here is also 33° C.
Qaruh Island—Southern and Western Area:
General damage percentage is approximately 80%, but damage to the Platygyra daedalea and Porites compressa species (except those of bright blue color, which are unaffected but far fewer and smaller) and the Pavona decussata and Acanthastrea echinata species is about 97%. On the other hand as regards the Acroporidae, the percentage of partially damaged corals is about 60% and of overall damage is about 20%. Water temperature is 34° C (93° F).
Qaruh Island—Northern Area:
General damage exceeds nearly 90%, and the corals are medium and small-sized. The the damage increases on the eastern side of the area.
Qaruh Island—Eastern Area:
General damage is about 85%, but 100% of the Platygyra daedalea type is damaged as is 97% of the Porites compressa type. Water temperature is 34° C.
Umm Deera Reef (13 km to the North of Qaruh Island):
General damage exceeds about 95% and the types damaged are the same as around Qaruh Island.
Taylor Rock (9.5 km to the East of Kobar Island):
General damage is about 93%, including all types, but the bleaching percentage is less. Water temperature is 34° C.
Kubbar Island—Western Area:
General damage is about 95%, and the Platygyra daedalea species exhibits 100% damage. There is a good population of the Favia pallida species, especially the grey-colored variety that was not affected by the bleaching phenomenon. Additionally, some colonies of Green Thawanthed, which is similar to corals but does not build solid structure, were seen on the reefs in good conditions as well as some types of sponge.
Camp Arifjan Military Base Area:
General damage is about 90% and the location’s conditions resemble other locations. However, there are some types of Platygyra daedalea that were not affected completely by bleaching and still maintain their color, although it appears to be fading. It was noted that there are large areas on the seabed over which a brown sponge has spread.
  • No dead fish or any living creatures that normally co-exist with the coral reefs were seen; a few dead fish were recorded that are not normal coral reef inhabitants.
  • Increase in water temperature above normal was clearly felt.
  • The Favia pallida corals, especially the grey-colored ones, were not affected by bleaching. They are of smaller size and are spread all over the investigated sites, but density varies from location to location.
  • The bright blue Porites compressa type was seen in nearly all locations, but they are of few numbers, dispersed, and of smaller sizes.
  • There are many corals suffering from complete bleaching.
  • There are some damaged corals whose color seemed brown, but on investigation the colonies were found to be dead, and the brown color was due to fungi growing on the coral skeleton.

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