Farasan Bank

The Living Oceans Foundation conducted coral reef research in the Farasan Bank, a series of islands along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. The Farasan Bank covers an area of about 350 miles north to south and 30 miles east to west, with an estimated 6 million acres of submerged coral reefs and small islands. Jacques Cousteau described the area as the wildest of all reef complexes in the Red Sea in his1953 book The Living Sea. Our 2009 expedition focused on collecting data to map and characterize the various marine habitats, conducting underwater surveys to determine the composition and structure of corals and other reef species, and an examination of the health and resilience of the reef. We surveyed a variety of coral reefs, ranging from outer offshore locations to shallow lagoonal reefs close to shore. By combining satellite imagery of the region with observations on the ground and underwater surveys, we were able to identify areas of unusual biodiversity and health, as well as some of the threats affecting the region. We also worked with resource managers to identify site-based conservation strategies, such as possible marine protected areas.

Meet the team