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Concept: Persian Gulf

152

Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majority of sharks (81%, n = 341) were encountered at the Al Shaheen area of Qatar, 90 km off the coast, with the Musandam region of Oman a secondary area of interest. At Al Shaheen, there were significantly more male sharks (n = 171) than females (n = 78; X2 = 17.52, P < 0.05). Mean estimated total length (TL) for sharks was 6.90 m ± 1.24 (median = 7 m; n = 296). Males (7.25 m ± 1.34; median = 8 m, n = 171) were larger than females (6.44 m ±1.09; median = 7 m, n = 78; Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Of the male sharks assessed for maturity 63% were mature (n = 81), with 50% attaining maturity by 7.29 m and 100% by 9.00 m. Two female sharks of >9 m individuals were visually assessed as pregnant. Connectivity among sharks sighted in Qatari, Omani and UAE waters was confirmed by individual spot pattern matches. A total of 13 identified sharks were re-sighted at locations other than that at which they were first sighted, including movements into and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Maximum likelihood techniques were used to model an estimated combined population for the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman of 2837 sharks ± 1243.91 S.E. (95% C.I. 1720-6295). The Al Shaheen aggregation is thus the first site described as being dominated by mature males while the free-swimming pregnant females are the first reported from the Indian Ocean.

Concepts: Qatar, Arabian Peninsula, Strait of Hormuz, Shark, Oman, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, United Arab Emirates

42

The large quantities of chemical oil dispersants used in the oil spill response and cleanup (OSRC) work following the Deepwater Horizon disaster provide an opportunity to study associations between dispersant exposure (Corexit™ EC9500A or EC9527A) and human health.

Concepts: Personal life, Persian Gulf, Human, Health, Dispersant, Exxon Valdez oil spill

40

Coral communities in the Persian/Arabian Gulf (PAG) withstand unusually high salinity levels and regular summer temperature maxima of up to ∼35 °C that kill conspecifics elsewhere. Due to the recent formation of the PAG and its subsequent shift to a hot climate, these corals have had only <6,000 y to adapt to these extreme conditions and can therefore inform on how coral reefs may respond to global warming. One key to coral survival in the world's warmest reefs are symbioses with a newly discovered alga,Symbiodinium thermophilum Currently, it is unknown whether this symbiont originated elsewhere or emerged from unexpectedly fast evolution catalyzed by the extreme environment. Analyzing genetic diversity of symbiotic algae across >5,000 km of the PAG, the Gulf of Oman, and the Red Sea coastline, we show thatS. thermophilumis a member of a highly diverse, ancient group of symbionts cryptically distributed outside the PAG. We argue that the adjustment to temperature extremes by PAG corals was facilitated by the positive selection of preadapted symbionts. Our findings suggest that maintaining the largest possible pool of potentially stress-tolerant genotypes by protecting existing biodiversity is crucial to promote rapid adaptation to present-day climate change, not only for coral reefs, but for ecosystems in general.

Concepts: Climate change, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Algae, Evolution, Coral reef, Coral, Symbiosis

28

The influence of visitors on macroinvertebrates of rocky intertidal shores was investigated in southern coasts of the Qeshm Island, the Persian Gulf, Iran. Qeshm Island located at the Strait of Hormuz, with an area of 1,491 km(2), is the largest island in the region. This island consists of a number of important natural habitat types including creeks, mangroves, corals, and sandy, muddy, and rocky shores that accommodate diverse marine flora and fauna communities. Two rocky shores were selected at the touristic beaches being visited regularly, and further two control locations selected at pristine shores. Intertidal macroinvertebrates were collected from six microhabitats including rock platforms, cobbles, boulders, crevices, sea walls, and rock pools during two different periods representing high and low tourist seasons. Species richness, density, and assemblage structure in heavily visited shores were compared with that of control locations. Striped barnacles (Balanus amphitrite) were present on platforms of all locations, thus the changes in their size were used as the obvious contrast associated with visitor’s impact. A total of 70 macroinvertebrate species from 11 phyla were recorded. Significant differences were detected in taxonomic richness, density, and assemblage structure of macroinvertebrates between heavily visited and pristine shores, suggesting that macroinvertebrates were adversely affected by visitors' impact at heavily visited shores. The test of changes in species richness, density, and assemblage structure from high to low seasons yielded mixed results. The significant changes in density and assemblage structure from high to low seasons were only observed in one heavily visited shore. A significant reduction in size of striped barnacles was observed only in one heavily visited shore. The opportunistic or fugitive species (e.g., small macroalgae and barnacles) were dominant macroinvertebrates on heavily visited shores indicating early succession stage. The results presented here showed that macroinvertebrates were adversely affected by human activities in subtropical rocky shore.

Concepts: Shore, Oman, Gulf of Oman, Intertidal zone, United Arab Emirates, Strait of Hormuz, Iran, Persian Gulf

28

A new nematode species, Philometroides acanthopagri sp. nov. (Philometridae), is described from gravid and subgravid specimens found in the musculature near pectoral fins and in nasal cavity of the yellowfin seabream Acanthopagrus latus (Houttuyn) (Sparidae, Perciformes) from marine waters off the coast of southern Iraq. Based on light and scanning electron microscopical examination, the new species differs from its congeners in a combination of morphological and biometrical features. It is the first species of Philometroides reported from a sparid fish and the first representative of this genus recorded from fishes in the Arabian Gulf. A key to Philometroides species parasitizing marine and brackish-water fishes is provided.

Concepts: Gulf War, Biology, Perciformes, Nematode, Iraq, Persian Gulf, Sparidae, Fish

27

The Arabian Peninsula is a key region for understanding hominin dispersals and the effect of climate change on prehistoric demography, although little information on these topics is presently available owing to the poor preservation of archaeological sites in this desert environment. Here, we describe the discovery of three stratified and buried archaeological sites in the Nefud Desert, which includes the oldest dated occupation for the region. The stone tool assemblages are identified as a Middle Palaeolithic industry that includes Levallois manufacturing methods and the production of tools on flakes. Hominin occupations correspond with humid periods, particularly Marine Isotope Stages 7 and 5 of the Late Pleistocene. The Middle Palaeolithic occupations were situated along the Jubbah palaeolake-shores, in a grassland setting with some trees. Populations procured different raw materials across the lake region to manufacture stone tools, using the implements to process plants and animals. To reach the Jubbah palaeolake, Middle Palaeolithic populations travelled into the ameliorated Nefud Desert interior, possibly gaining access from multiple directions, either using routes from the north and west (the Levant and the Sinai), the north (the Mesopotamian plains and the Euphrates basin), or the east (the Persian Gulf). The Jubbah stone tool assemblages have their own suite of technological characters, but have types reminiscent of both African Middle Stone Age and Levantine Middle Palaeolithic industries. Comparative inter-regional analysis of core technology indicates morphological similarities with the Levantine Tabun C assemblage, associated with human fossils controversially identified as either Neanderthals or Homo sapiens.

Concepts: Persian Gulf, Pleistocene, Human evolution, Prehistory, Neanderthal, Human, Arabian Peninsula, Stone Age

25

In this study, concentrations of mercury (Hg) were analyzed in some marine biota species (fish, shrimp, and crab) from Khuzestan shore, north part of the Persian Gulf. It was also our intention to evaluate potential risks to human health associated with seafood consumption. The results indicated that concentrations of Hg in the fish and crustacean were different among the species and tissues. Liver in fish and hepatopancreas in crustacean exhibited higher Hg concentration than the other tissues. The highest concentration of Hg was detected in Acanthopagrus latus liver (1.37 µg/g), followed by Labeo rohita (0.87 µg/g), Johnius belangerii (0.79 µg/g), and Barbus grypus (0.69 µg/g), respectively. Also the highest Hg concentrations were detected in shrimp species, Penaeus semisulcatus hepatopancreas (0.95 µg/g), followed by blue crab Portunus pelagicus (0.76 µg/g) and Metapenaues affinis (0.64 µg/g), respectively. The comparison indicated that benthic species were more contaminated than were other pelagic species. The results indicated that highest concentrations of Hg between different stations were detected in Musa estuary. The Hg concentration in all species were low than standards, expect in A. latus and P. semisulcatus collected from Musa estuary (S4). The variation in Hg levels among the species is likely to have resulted from metal bioavailability, changes in tissue composition, habitat,s and locations.

Concepts: Iraq, Gulf War, Strait of Hormuz, Crustacean, Portunus pelagicus, Crab, Iran, Persian Gulf

23

Worldwide, ISO 14001 certification for organizations has become the norm, but the Arab world accounts for an insignificant portion of all the certified organizations. There is a dearth of research on environmental management systems (EMS) in Arab and emerging countries and in public organizations. The objectives of this research are to: (1) examine the key drivers and challenges related to implementation of ISO 14001 certified EMS in the United Arab Emirates, an emerging Arab country and (2) compare and contrast these drivers and challenges between private and public organizations. We adopt an explorative, qualitative methodology, using semi-structured interviews with environmental managers in 11 organizations (6 private and 5 public) from different industrial sectors. Drivers of EMS certification were mostly similar between private and public organizations, with some differences. Compliance with regulations and standards, and increasing environmental performance were the main drivers for ISO 14001 certification in both private and public organizations. Commitment to sustainability was more important for public organizations. Cost reduction, competitors, leadership commitment and customers' demands were shared drivers, but more stressed by private organizations. Local community and employees' pressures were reported by private organizations only. The challenges to ISO 14001 implementation were similar for private and public organizations. They were: a lack of qualified human resources, practical challenges associated with implementation, a lack of regulations, a lack of support from management, and high costs. Our findings have implications for managers, academics, consultants, and policy makers in the UAE and other emerging markets.

Concepts: Arab League, Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, Arab World, United Arab Emirates

23

This study aimed to investigate the ecological risk assessment of Khamir, Tiyab, and Jagin estuaries and the impact of anthropogenic activities on these ecosystems during a one-year study period (April 2015 to March 2016) using trace metals as pollution indices. The sediment samples were collected from nine sampling stations, following a gradient of contamination from the industrial wastewater and shrimp farming effluents to the less impacted stations. Pollution indices (i.e. PERI and PLI) were applied to ascertain the sediment quality. Based on pollution indices, the overall pattern of environmental quality status demonstrated that industrial sewage and shrimp farming effluents are major sources of pollution in the Khamir and Tiyab estuaries, respectively. The sediments in the most stations in studied coastal ecosystems of Iran posed moderate or considerable ecological risk. Results from this study showed that Zn, Pb, Cu, and Cd were mostly derived from anthropogenic activities such as domestic sewage and industrial effluents. Also, the findings of this study revealed that the pollution indices are suitable for evaluating the environmental situation of coastal ecosystems and the separation of areas with less impacted by human activities from areas affected by these activities and could be used as a robust management tool for monitoring programs in coastal areas. Altogether, these findings could be useful in providing more effective and targeted strategies of development better management practices for coastal areas.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, Sewage treatment, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Persian Gulf, Iran

16

The increasing emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious public health issue. Increasing the awareness of the general public about appropriate antibiotic use is a key factor for combating this issue. Several public media campaigns worldwide have been launched; however, such campaigns can be costly and the outcomes are variable and difficult to assess. Social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, are now frequently utilized to address health-related issues. In many geographical locations, such as the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain), these platforms are becoming increasingly popular. The socioeconomic status of the GCC states and their reliable communication and networking infrastructure has allowed the penetration and scalability of these platforms in the region. This might explain why the Saudi Ministry of Health is using social media platforms alongside various other media platforms in a large-scale public awareness campaign to educate at-risk communities about the recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This paper discusses the potential for using social media tools as cost-efficient and mass education platforms to raise awareness of appropriate antibiotic use in the general public and in the medical communities of the Arabian Peninsula.

Concepts: Bahrain, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Middle East, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates