The region contains just under 1% (2,009 km2) of the total global area of coral reefs. Coral reefs are the most biodiverse ecosystem in this arid region, and they support a fisheries sector that is second only to petroleum as an economic sector. The regions coral reefs are characterized by tolerance to extreme and highly variable environmental conditions, with reefs occurring in pseudo-high latitude environments (southern Oman upwelling area) and in the world’s hottest sea (southern Persian/Arabian Gulf), making this region an unparalleled ‘natural laboratory’ for understanding coral physiological and adaptive responses to extremes.
The Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) Sea Area includes eight nations bordering the Persian/Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, each of which contain corals (ranging from well-developed true reefs to laminar coral carpets). Historically, coral reef research has been highly fragmented, but scientific interest both regionally and from international researchers has led to exponential growth in regional reef science in recent years. Most active reef researchers in ROPME nations are engaged in the larger pan-regional Mideast Coral Reef Society, which has hosted several conferences and workshops over the past decade to bring together regional scientists and conservationists to better understand trends in regional reef science.
(i) Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) is a biogeographic classification of the world’s coasts and shelves (Spalding et al., 2007).
Regional reports and guidelines from the ROPME region.