Page 03/09/2015 15:56:12

Interaction between Natural and Anthropogenic Processes in Ecosystem Functioning



To improve our understanding of the processes which may be motivating the spring whale shark aggregation in Al-Lith, Saudi Arabia, by characterizing the regional oceanography. 


Whale sharks are hypothesized to aggregate in Al-Lith as a foraging hotspot with high prey densities, thus we examine whether there is higher biomass during the spring and what processes could be causing this productivity. Al-Lith is located in South Central Red Sea (SCRS): an area with interesting large-scale oceanographic processes. Summer Tokar wind jets form eddies that cause coastal upwelling and/or downwelling; winter winds converge and accumulate material; and nutrient-rich Gulf of Aden Intermediate Waters (GAIW) reach as an eastern boundary current during the Summer Southwest monsoon. 

The contributions of large-scale oceanographic processes to the whale shark aggregation is examined by comparing oceanographic surveys that look at water masses, current profiles, acoustic scattering, and nutrient, chlorophyll and SPM concentrations, to remote sensing SSH, SST and Chla observations that illustrate concurrently occurring basin-scale processes. Al-Lith also has a large coastal aquaculture facility. The aquaculture effluent could have high nutrient concentrations and trigger biological productivity leading to the aggregation; hence the effluent’s physical, chemical, optical and microbial properties and its trajectory and seasonality are being resolved. We hope this will provide a baseline for Al-Lith’s coastal oceanography in order to investigate a connection to the whale shark aggregation and its reason to favor this particular site every spring 

KAUST Collaborators
Dr. Anders Rostad, Research Scientist, Red Sea Research Center
Professor Peiying Hong, Water Desalination and Reuse Center
Professor Ibrahim Hoteit, Earth Sciences and Modeling

External Collaborators
Professor Stein Kaartvedt​, University of Oslo