The biota in the Arabian Gulf faces stress both from natural (i.e., hyper salinity and high sea surface temperature), and human (i.e., from oil-related activities) sources. The western Arabian Gulf was also impacted by world's largest oil spill (1991 Oil Spill). However, benthic research in this region is scarce and most of the studies have been conducted only in small areas. Here, we present data on macrobenthos collected during 2002–2003 from the open waters and inner bays in the northwestern Arabian Gulf aimed to assess the ecological status and also to evaluate the long-term impact, if any, of the 1991 Oil Spill. A total of 392 macrobenthic taxa with an average (±SE) species richness (S) of 71 ± 2, Shannon-Wiener species diversity (H′) of 4.9 ± 0.1, and density of 3,181 ± 359 ind. m−2 was recorded from the open water stations. The open waters have “slightly disturbed” (according to AZTI's Marine Biotic Index, AMBI) conditions, with “good-high” (according to multivariate-AMBI, M-AMBI) ecological status indicating the absence of long-term impacts of the oil spill. Overall, 162 taxa were recorded from inner bays with average (±SE) values of S 41 ± 9, H′ 3.48 ± 0.39, and density 4,203 ± 1,042 ind. m−2. The lower TPH (Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons) stations (LTS, TPH concentrations
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank the Center for Environment & Water (CEW) at the Research Institute of King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, for providing research facilities and the Marine Studies Section team of CEW for performing the fieldwork and laboratory analyses. We express our sincere thanks to the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Company for Environmental Works Ltd. for their constant support. We also thank M/S Al-Gosaibi for providing services of their Oceanographic Vessel. We are grateful to Dr. Ajmal Khan, Dr. Murugesan, Dr. Linoy Libini, and Dr. Thomas Jacob of Annamalai University, India and Dr. Sajan Sebastian of the Cochin University of Science and Technology, India for their valuable support. We are also thankful to Dr. Chandana Senaratne, KFUPM/RI, for editing the manuscript. The authors highly appreciate the two reviewers for their suggestions to improve the quality of the manuscript.