Current status of coral reefs in the United Arab Emirates: Distribution, extent, and community structure with implications for management

Raymond E. Grizzle, Krystin M. Ward, Rashid M.S. AlShihi, John Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Coral reefs of the United Arab Emirates were once extensive, but have declined dramatically in recent decades. Marine management and policy have been hampered by outdated and inaccurate habitat maps and habitat quality information. We combined existing recent datasets with our newly mapped coral habitats to provide a current assessment of nation-wide extent, and performed quantitative surveys of communities at 23 sites to assess coral cover and composition. Over 132 km2 of coral habitat was mapped, averaging 28.6 ± 3.8% live coral cover at surveyed sites. In the Arabian Gulf low cover, low richness Porites dominated communities characterized western Abu Dhabi, while reefs northeast of Abu Dhabi city generally contained higher richness and cover, and were dominated by merulinids (formerly faviids). Distinct communities occur in the Sea of Oman, where cover and richness were low. We provide management recommendations to enhance conservation of vulnerable coral reefs in the UAE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 30 2016



  • Arabian Gulf
  • Coral bleaching
  • Degradation
  • Gulf of Oman
  • Habitat mapping
  • Sea of Oman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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