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Bushehr Marine Ecosystem Studied for Heat Impact

The Department of Environment’s scientists have concluded a two-month-long study of coral reefs off the coasts of Bushehr Province to monitor the impact of summer heat on vulnerable marine species.

They recorded information on the health of the corals and the range of their habitat, which will be compared with the results of a similar study that will be conducted after summer.

“We’ll be able to determine the impact of the summer heat in the Persian Gulf on these species,” Davoud Mirshekar, DOE’s director for marine ecosystems, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The study was carried out during the first two months of the current Iranian year (started March 21).

The effort is part of a program that aims to monitor the impact of climatic changes on biological diversity in the southern coasts of Iran.

“The results (of the first study) will be compared with the second study, which is slated for the end of summer, in order to provide a robust picture of the health condition and color, distribution of aquatic species in the area before and after summer,” he said.

“It will help us identify threats to coral reef ecosystems around Bushehr and the species they support.”

Coral reefs are among the most valuable ecosystems on earth, providing people with goods and services that include food, storm protection and recreational opportunities. Despite their importance, they are in decline from a myriad of manmade and natural threats.

Studies on corals around the islands of Kish, Qeshm and Hengam reveal that major threats to the species in the region are outdated fishing practices, overfishing, careless tourism, pollution, sedimentation and climate change.

Corals are sensitive to temperature changes, particularly to the rise in temperature, which leads to a phenomenon called bleaching.

Mirshekar said no coral bleaching has been observed around Bushehr but noted that “the corals aren’t doing too well”.

“Researchers had found two types of diseases among corals in Naeiband Protected Area, but those around Kharg Island were fine,” he said.

Officials say Iran is home to 8% of the world’s coral reefs, with more than 150 species identified. Coral reefs are mostly found around Persian Gulf islands, namely Kharg, Lavan, Hendurabi, Farour, Bani Farour, Qeshm, Kish, Lark, Hengam and Hormoz.


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