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Status - Coral Reefs

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1 . Yemen     Yemen
Qadama - Medina Nature Sanctuary - Coral community types: A, C, D, E. The area supports a wide variety of benthic communities from algal-covered cobbles (western side of Ras Qadama) to large (ca. 500 - 1,000m²) monospecific stands of a variety of coral species to the most diverse coral assemblage recorded from Socotra Island. In the case of the mono-specific stand of the submassive agariciid coral Pavona maldivensis, which covers ca. 500m², this is the largest presently known anywhere (J.E.N. Veron pers. comm.), this species usually forming small encrusting - sub-massive colonies < 50 cm diam. There is another large mono-specific stand in the area, composed by the pocilloporid Stylophora kuehlmanni (R. Klaus pers. comm.). The mono-specific stands and highly diverse assemblages occur adjacent to each other, sometimes < 200m apart.

The Nature Sanctuary supports a variety of deep-water (> 15m) coral assemblages:
  • monospecific coral beds of the massive poritid Goniopora stokesi,

  • monospecific coral beds of the sub-massive agariciid Pavona maldivensis, with other species developed on dead surfaces of the Pavona ‘super-colony’,

  • monospecific coral beds of the branching pocilloporid Stylophora kuelhmanni, with a low diversity of other species co-occurring (R. Klaus pers. obs.),

  • highly diverse mixed coral assemblages (> 70 spp. Scleractinia), the best example of which has large old coral colonies and high cover (30 - 50%).
Qalansya lagoon & Sabonia National Parks - The National Parks provide a buffer zone surrounding Nature Sanctuaries centred on the Qalansya (Didhua) lagoon and offshore rock stack of Sabonia.

Sabonia Nature Sanctuary - The Nature Sanctuary extends for one nautical mile around the rock stack, encircled by the larger National Park extending to three nautical miles. The stack rises steeply from the surrounding ocean on all sides, with water depths of 20m or deeper within 100m of the rocks. A coral community of small aerial extent is developed directly on the basement rock next to the channel between the islands. There is little biogenic accretion.

Coral community type: D. The coral community is composed predominantly of large massive colonies of Porites spp., with a mix of other taxa of stout growth forms (mostly encrusting, massive and sub-massive) developed on dead surfaces and in crevices on the basement rock. Although of small aerial extent (ca. 1,000m²), the coral community supports the largest population of the Red Sea ‘endemic’ coral Stylophora wellsi known from the Socotra archipelago. This species, otherwise recorded from only a few colonies on Darsa, is common on Sabonia and is likely to form a viable population there.

West Socotra (Ras Bidoh - Shuab - Neet) National Park - This is a mostly land-based and coastal National Park, extending offshore into a sandy bay adjacent to the Shuab mangrove system, and circling the ‘Sunset’ shipwreck. There are narrow (ca. 30m width) coral communities developed adjacent to the coastal cliffs of Ras Bidoh.

Coral community type: A, B. Coral communities of the W coast (Ras Bidoh) are composed of moderate diversity encrusting and massive taxa, mostly in the families Faviidae, Mussidae and Siderastreidae. Benthic communities of the SW tip of Socotra Island (Ras Shuab - Net) are dominated by macroalgae with only sparse corals.

SW Socotra (Qatanin - Qaara) National Park - The National Park covers the coastal and marine area adjacent to the spectacular headland of Ras Qatanin, the sandy beach (Sebriho) and fossil reef platform at the western end of the Noged.

Ras Qatanin Nature Sanctuary - To the west of Ras Qatanin headland, a small bay and wadi are developed, providing winter (NE Monsoon) shelter for fishermen who use the bay as an anchorage. The sublittoral is composed of terriginous cobbles - boulders, with a dense cover of macroalgae and a sparse cover of stony and soft corals. The general lack of biogenic accretion notwithstanding, several of the corals, massive colonies of Porites spp., have attained large size (ca. 2m diam.) and are likely to be at least a century old. This is an excellent example of the mixed assemblage of macroalgae, stony and soft corals that occurs at several sites along the south coasts of the Socotra archipelago. Although coral cover is low (< 10%), there is a surprisingly diverse array of taxa, including the Oman - Gulf-of-Aden endemic mussid Acanthastrea maxima and rare mussid Symphyllia hassi. This area was selected as subtidal monitoring site.

Coral community type: B. The sublittoral is dominated by a mix of macro- (predominantly Padina sp.), coralline and turfing algae, with sparse colonies of stony and soft corals developed among the algae on patches of hard substrate, notably on raised boulders and large massive corals (Porites spp.). The stony corals are represented by mostly small (< 50 cm diam.) encrusting - massive colonies in the families Faviidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae and Poritidae adapted to the harsh physical conditions imposed by the SW Monsoon.

Muthaz - Zaraghin Nature Sanctuary - The coastline is formed predominantly by a fossil (probably Pleistocene) coral reef some 1 - 3m above high tide level, and interspersed by small sandy beaches. The near-shore sublittoral similarly appears formed by fossil limestone ‘spur-and-groove’ structures supporting a diverse mix of algae, stony and soft corals. Further offshore, the sublittoral topography is less rugose, being a predominantly level - gently sloping surface of terriginous hard substrate interspersed with sandy patches. The spur and groove structures support a mixed assemblage of macroalgae, stony and soft corals, some of which are rare or absent from N coast localities.

Coral community type: B. The near-shore sublittoral is dominated by a mix of macro-, coralline and turfing algae, interspersed with colonies of stony and soft corals developed among the algae, mostly on the tops and sides of the ‘spur’ structures. As with Ras Qatanin, the stony corals are represented by mostly small (< 50cm diam.) encrusting - massive colonies in the families Faviidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae and Poritidae adapted to the harsh physical conditions imposed by the SW Monsoon. Large colonies of the soft corals Lobphyton, Sarcophyton and Sinularia spp. are also present.
Source: Pilcher, N. and L. DeVantier , 2000 , The Status of Coral Reefs in Yemen. . Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) (See Document)

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