The Arabian Gulf is a young sea characterized by extreme environmental conditions, with salinity, turbidity, and sea temperatures that are well outside of the range normally experienced by corals.
Coral reefs in the Gulf are providing unique opportunities for researchers to understand the future impacts of climate change due to their ability to withstand high salinity and sea temperatures above 30C. They are fragile however and threatened by degradation, climate change, as well as coastal development.
Summer sea temperatures in the Gulf, for example, exceed what is predicted for most coral reefs for at least the next century. As such, there is incredible opportunity and interest in exploring the biology of corals in the Gulf as a way of understanding the potential impacts of climate change in other regions and the capacity for corals to cope with projected temperature increases. This lecture provides an overview of the natural history of the Gulf, explores how reef science has developed in the past several decades, and emphasizes the need for better integration of science with management and policy to enhance sustainability of these unique coral reef ecosystems.