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The Arabian Gulf
Subba Rao, D.V.; Al-Yamani, F. (2000). The Arabian Gulf, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 1-16
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Subba Rao, D.V.
  • Al-Yamani, F.

    The Arabian Gulf, surrounded by arid land, contains 46% of the world's proven oil and about 16% of its natural gas reserves. Its main source of fresh water is the Shatt Al-Arab in the north which receives the waters of the Tigris, Euphrates and Karun rivers. It has a narrow connection with the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Hormuz. The basin is shallow, with a mean depth of less than 30 m, reaching as much as 170 m only towards its entrance with the Indian Ocean. The Gulf's waters are more saline than the Indian Ocean, which limits the biodiversity, but the region supports a variety of biotopes including the world's most northerly coral reefs. Nutrient gradients exist, with maximum levels in the north and lower in the south, and gradients of phytoplankton biomass and production are also related to the hydrography. Activities associated with urbanization and petrochemical industries have resulted in loss of shallow marine habitat, general eutrophication, increasing levels of pollution, introduction of exotic species, and declines in fish stocks. River diversion, drainage of the northwestern marshes, and the construction of 22 dams of the SE Anatolia Project across the rivers to the north will drastically impact the hydrobiology of the Gulf. The area also suffers from high levels of oil contamination, and effects from large recent spillages have been severe, though in several cases not as long-term as was first feared. The need for the Gulf countries to realize that their development and quality of life are closely connected to the functioning of the Gulf ecosystems is clear. Scientific research in the region is developing, but during the new millennium, long-range ocean science programmes integrated into the economic and social development of the Gulf region are recommended.

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