Possible effects of water pollution on the community structure of Red Sea corals

Y. Loya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The community structure and species diversity of hermatypic corals was studied during 1969-1973, in two reef flats in the northern Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea: the reef flat of the nature reserve at Eilat, which is chronically polluted by oil and minerals, and a control reef, located 5 km further south, which is free from oil pollution. In 1969, the nature reserve and the control reef had similar coral community structure. In September, 1970, both reefs suffered approximately 90% mortality of corals, as a result of an unexpected and extremely low tide. In 1973 the control reef was "blooming" with a highly diverse coral community, while almost no signs of coral recolonization have been observed at the nature reserve, and it is significantly lower in diversity. It is suggested that phosphate eutrophication and chronic oil pollution are the major man-made disturbances that interfere with coral colonization of the reef flat at the nature reserve. Although no direct evidence is provided that oil damages hermatypic corals, the data strongly suggest that chronic oil spills prevent normal settlement and/or development of coral larvae. It is possible that chronic oil, pollution results in either one or a combination of the following: (1) damage to the reproductive system of corals; (2) decreased viability of coral larvae; (3) changes in some physical properties of the reef flat which interfere with normal settlement of coral larvae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1975


Dive into the research topics of 'Possible effects of water pollution on the community structure of Red Sea corals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this