MEPS 214:15-23 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps214015

First record of a fish-killing Gymnodinium sp. bloom in Kuwait Bay, Arabian Sea: chronology and potential causes

Cynthia A. Heil1,*, Patricia M. Glibert2, Mohammad A. Al-Sarawi3, Muna Faraj3, Manaf Behbehani4, Muna Husain5

1College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Avenue S, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
2University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, PO Box 775, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA
3Kuwait Environment Public Authority, PO Box 24395, Safat 13104, Kuwait
4Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, PO Box 5969, Safat 13060, Kuwait
5Kuwait Environment Public Authority, Marine Laboratory, PO Box 2221, Al Surrah 45400, Kuwait

ABSTRACT: Significant natural and aquaculture fish deaths in Kuwait Bay occurred from September to October of 1999 and were attributed to a bloom of the dinoflagellate Gymnodinium sp. A chronology of the bloom event suggests that a period of low winds and stable water-column structure preceded the bloom. Maximum cell concentrations of Gymnodinium sp. (>6 x 106 cells l–1) were also immediately preceded by a more than 20-fold increase in mean inorganic nitrogen concentrations (up to 60 μM) and elevated inorganic phosphate concentrations. This, combined with elevated inorganic and organic nutrient concentrations within the bloom, suggests that coastal nutrient eutrophication was likely to have contributed significantly to bloom development and support. Termination of the Gymnodinium sp. bloom coincided with a bloom of the non-toxic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum, which appeared as large red patches in Kuwait Bay. While no adverse human health effects were associated with the bloom, closure of shellfish and selected finfish (largely mullet Liza macrolepis) markets resulted in significant economic losses to the region. The occurrence of this toxic algal bloom event, the first within the Arabian Sea, highlights the need for monitoring and research programs in the Arabian Sea and Kuwait Bay that focus on nutrients and eutrophication, in addition to oil related pollution issues.


KEY WORDS: Arabian Sea · Kuwait Bay · Gymnodinium sp. · Mesodinium rubrum · Eutrophication · Fish kill · Nitrogen · Nutrients · Red tide


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