Coral Biology laboratory is one of the most important and active labs at the Aqaba Marine Science Station (MSS). The Gulf of Aqaba is characterized by high diversity of coral reef communities, which represent the northern limit (29°32’N) for reef corals in the Western Indo-Pacific region. Reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba are of the fringing type. The Jordanian coastline covers about 27 kilometers along the northeastern part of the Gulf of Aqaba. Because the Gulf is devoid of true continental shelf and the offshore profiles are very steep, the reefs are narrow and closely follow the shorelines.
A total of 158 species of living scleractinian corals belonging to 51 genera have been recorded from the Jordanian side of the Gulf of Aqaba. This in addition to many thousands of other reef organisms associated with the coral reef ecosystem in the sea.
For the Gulf being the Jordan’s single maritime outlet, it is actively used for industry, transportation and tourism. This has serious negative impacts leading to the destruction and deterioration of the coral reefs. In addition to anthropogenic impacts, natural disturbances like bio-erosion, predation, diseases and extreme low tides affect the reef communities in the Gulf of Aqaba. The conservation of coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba will only come about by wisely managing the coastal activities and to limit effects of industry, maritime activities and tourism. Therefore, a long-term monitoring carried out in collaboration with the local authority in the city of Aqaba (ASEZA), for basic coral reef ecosystem parameters such as percent cover and diversity of corals and the associated fauna like sponges, algae and sea grass beds has been implemented in our laboratory as part of an overall monitoring program during the past years. The aim of this monitoring program is to continuously assessing the status of coral reefs and other benthic organisms along the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. Assistance in the coral reef lab is provided by the experienced lab and field technician Mr. Mohammad Tawaha and Ms. Maysoon Gtafaan.
Two main research branches are curried out in the Coral Laboratory. The first is lead by Fuad A. Al-Horani and the second by Saber A. Al-Rousan.