Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A fish kill of massive proportion in Kuwait Bay, Arabian Gulf, 2001: the roles of bacterial disease, harmful algae, and eutrophication.

Abstract

In August and September 2001, Kuwait Bay, a semi-enclosed embayment of the Arabian Gulf, experienced a massive fish kill involving over >2500 metric tons of wild mullet (Liza klunzingeri), due to the bacterium Streptococcus agalactiae. In the Bay, this event was preceded by a small fish kill (100-1000 dead fish per day) of gilthead sea bream (Sparus auratus) in aquaculture net pens associated with a bloom of the dinoflagellate Ceratium furca. Sea bream were found to be culture positive for S. agalactiae, but did not show any visible signs of disease. Unusually warm temperatures (up to 35 °C) and calm conditions prevailed during this period. As the wild fish kill progressed, various harmful algae were observed, including Gymnodinium catenatum, Gyrodinium impudicum, and Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum. Cell numbers of G. catenatum and G. impudicum exceeded 106 l-1 in some locations. All fish tested below the limits of detection for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and brevetoxins. Clams (Circe callipyga) were positive for PSP but at levels below regulatory limits. Nutrient concentrations, both inorganic and organic, were highly variable with time and from site to site, reflecting inputs from sewage outfalls, the aquaculture operations, a high biomass of decomposing fish, and other sources. It is hypothesized that many factors contributed to the initial outbreak of the bacterial disease, including unusual warm and calm conditions. The same factors, as well as enriched nutrient conditions, also apparently were conducive to the subsequent HAB outbreaks. The detection of PSP, while below regulatory limits, warrants further monitoring to protect human health.