Qatar Marine Environment Narration Job # 936

Job Posting Details

Job # 936 Qatar Marine Environment Narration

Posted Date
Jan 2, 2006 @ 12:01
Respond By
Jan 31, 2006
Word Count
English (British)
Age Range

Job Description

The waters of the Arabian Gulf that almost entirely surround the State of Qatar host some of the most unique ecosystems in the arid tropical world.

Nowhere else in the world will you find inter-tidal zones, Mangrove, salt marsh, oyster beds and coral reef co-existing in such a compact area. With the combined threat of extreme climate and the activities of man, these fragile systems are in need of protection.

The development and wealth of the country depends on intact coastal ecosystems and the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves' research and conservation programs are producing a positive measurable effect on the marine environment of Qatar.

As with many countries in the Gulf region, Qatar is a hydrocarbon state with a multi industry based economy most of which relies on the production of oil & gas. The activities of production cannot fail to have an effect on the environment and it is because of this that the government has implemented such strict programs to protect its marine locale.

With approximately 70 percent of the world’s known oil reserves, Gulf countries are the world’s leading petroleum exporters. Qatar Petroleum itself pumps thousands of barrels of oil a day from Halul Island which is surrounded by the best natural reef communities in the Gulf that, although in an area of high activity, is greatly protected and healthy.

Working together with the oil & gas companies from its base in Doha, the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves is maintaining natural zones around Qatar, successfully reducing human activity in these areas and in turn providing healthy breeding grounds for sea animals.

In order to maintain the level of these activities and observe the effects of oil & gas production a marine monitoring program was established to inspect & protect beach, coastal and offshore areas as well as to examine various bio-indicators such as pearl oysters.

As Chief Scientist and Marine Environment Expert, Dr Abdel-Moati has built a strong team of Marine Chemists and Biologists around him in order to fulfill the criteria of the monitoring program. Head of the Marine Monitoring Unit, Essa Al-Hitmi, will brief his team on the journey to our first monitoring site which is perfectly positioned as a reference site for comparison to locations with man-made stress.

The collection procedures are subdivided into plankton sampling, sediment sampling, and water sampling.

Plankton, or biota, sampling is collected by plankton nets of which there are two types - phytoplankton nets or zoo plankton nets. Plankton are the small micro-organisms that live in the sea and constitute the pyramid base of the food chain.

Once collected, formalin is added to preserve the sample which is then sent to the SCENR Central lab in Doha for identification. Tests are also carried out to discover numeration, establishing the content percentages, to note if any major species are dominating or harmful organisms are present.

To collect sediment, a grab sampler is deployed, which captures samples from the bottom of the ocean. At certain locations a dredge is dropped and towed on the bottom which will deliver information about the distribution of organisms in a specific area on the sea bed.

Once these samples are retrieved they are sorted for either chemical or biological analysis.

Water samples are collected in 5 litres polyethylene Niskin or GO FLO water samplers. They go down into the water open and when full, a metal messenger is sent down to close the bottle at specific depths where the team are required to collect the sample.

In addition the team collect total petroleum hydrocarbon, or oil and grease samples, from 1 metre below the surface according to international protocols and procedures.

The samples are sorted in the onboard wet-lab and then packaged for the laboratory back in Doha where they are analysed for nutrient salts, trace metals, COD, BOD and other variables such as mercury.

As previously mentioned, the reference site is of such purity, just miles from areas affected by industrial activity, that the sea life here is thriving.

For more dynamic & immediate testing, a multi-probe is deployed with sensors measuring temperature, salinity, PH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll levels.

It gives continuous measurements for all these variables allowing the opportunity to determine the health of the water column.

Diving allows the team to not only collect specific samples but also to visually inspect the marine environment.

With multiple sites monitored in the ocean around Qatar the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves has been able to establish pollution patterns and highlight toxicity levels to the industry and advise action where necessary.

Qatar has a number of onshore industrial sites that could be responsible for pollution in the country’s coastal areas and, as part of the marine monitoring program, beach locations close to these plants are inspected on a regular basis.

Being the perfect marine pollution bio-indicator, Pearl oysters are collected through diving operations from certain marine sites. Given the fact they are sessile in nature, they would have been filtering the water in this area for many months/years and will give a good record of the amount of pollutants/toxins present, if any.

The onboard biochemists prepare the samples immediately. Some water samples collected are tested on board though the majority will be transported to the onshore Laboratory where a secondary analysis will be obtained.

The pearl oyster samples are preserved at low temperature and back on shore they are delivered to the Supreme Council for the Environment Central laboratory in Doha for detailed testing and analysis for contamination by metals and hydrocarbons.

Biometrices of oysters are recorded and flesh is dried and after dissolving the residue in suitable solvents to create a solution, various tests can be carried out.

Water samples are measured for chemical and biological parameters such as total suspended solids, nutrients (PO4, NO2, NO3, NH4 etc), oil and grease, heavy metals, bacteria, chlorophyll and so on.

Results are gathered and stored in the SCENR Geographic Information System (GIS). These can be accessed on computer by the Supreme Council for the Environment scientists and are shared with local and Regional Organisations like ROPME which is the GCC organization responsible for the protection of the marine environment in all the Gulf States. Some information is also made available to the public.

The results will be written into a comprehensive report that will be presented to the SCENR Secretary General who will then make the decision to implement programs or action in response.

Although one of the important crude oil suppliers in the Gulf, Qatar has an abundant reserve of gas including the world’s largest non-associated gas field, known as the North Gas Field. Recent years have seen Qatar exploit this natural resource and in turn increasing the need to protect its wildlife.

Qatar enjoys political & economic stability under the rule of H.H. Shiekh Hamad Ben Khalifa Al-Thani and as Qatar develops, environmental issues have grown rapidly important. Historically, oil pollution has damaged the marine life around Qatar and since the Supreme Council for the Environment’s establishment in 2000; tough rules have been undertaken to combat the pressure the industry has previously placed on the ocean.

In response, the Qatari government, in union with many of the oil & gas companies, has created a task force of Environmental Officers who set policy and guidelines as well as representing their respective company’s Environmental related activities.

Life goes on back on the boat…

The marine monitoring team relax and take supper on deck as the captain steers the ship to the next location and the Supreme Council for the Environment’s quest to provide protection and welfare to the marine life of Qatar continues.

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