UAE | Environment

Red tide has killed 95% of corals, biologist says

Red tide on the east coast has destroyed 95 per cent of corals in the Dibba Marine Protected Zone and the fish population has dwindled to a minimum, a marine biologist said.

  • By Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 23:03 February 3, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Marcelo Mariozi
  • Red tide on the east coast has destroyed 95 per cent of corals in the Dibba Marine Protected Zone.

 

Dubai: Red tide on the east coast has destroyed 95 per cent of corals in the Dibba Marine Protected Zone and the fish population has dwindled to a minimum, a marine biologist said.

Red tide is the result of an influx of a type of algal bloom - it is so named because it turns the water a reddish colour.

Marine biologist Rita Bento working with the Emirates Diving Association (EDA) said she recently only saw three fish during a one-hour dive in an area where previously hundreds were seen.

"It is very sad. There are still some small patches of red tide visible but these organisms can rapidly reproduce and spread. The wind and rain we had recently helps to disperse the red tide," Bento said.

"It has also been spotted at Dibba Port," she said.

Northerly winds coming from Musandam will push any red tide from Oman, if there is any, back towards the UAE, said Bento.

Fujairah was the first emirate to establish four marine protected areas (MPAs) in 1995. Dibba Al Faqueet is the biggest, spreading across 2.2 square km.

The zone from Dibba to Khor Fakkan is being closely monitored by EDA.

"Red tide has been on the east coast for more than three months and 95 per cent of the coral is dead," said Bento on Monday after her most recent dive in the area.

On behalf of EDA, she is currently putting together a video and photo report for the Ministry of Environment and Water to show how the marine environment has suffered due to the red tide.

"At Dibba Rock [a dive site] 80 per cent of the coral is gone. In the northern side of the area there are no fish. It is horrible to see it like this. The corals are dead and covered in small tube worms. These are water filters and have taken over the area," said Bento.

"The dead coral polyps and fish gave them nutrients. Surprisingly there are a lot of Nudibranchs [sometimes called sea slugs] of different species."

"The coral dies because of lack of light as the algae bloom was so dense. A lot of the fish that died had their gills filled with algae. There is nothing we can do. We cannot predict when a red tide will come or when it will go."

 

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