In November 2016, my brother Russell and I had an excellent two-week journey to the Holy Land, visiting Israel, Palestine and Egypt. It was also an opportunity to sample Middle East (ME) freshwater diatoms for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s collection.
Diatoms are microscopic, one-celled algae with a silica shell. Found in sediments, they produce energy and oxygen for organisms in the food web. Scientists use them to study climate change and water quality. For sampling in Israel, I had a sediment-collection permit for various Nature Reserves.
Our tour saw Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Qumran, Masada, the Dead Sea, and Tiberias on Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Then we saw the Jordan River, Haifa, Tel Dan, Nazareth, Caesarea, Tel Aviv, the Negev and Eilat.
In Egypt, we proceeded to Mount Sinai, Sharm El-Sheikh, and flew to Cairo for the pyramids, Sphinx and Egyptian Museum. A great trip overall.
Israeli Sample Locations
Representative diatoms may be in multiple locations.
Nahal means “stream” in Hebrew
Size scale: 1 µm = 1 micron = 1 millionth of a metre.
Egyptian Sample Location
I collected some non-sediment “slime” from the Cairo Egyptian Museum pond that yielded a few diatoms.
In recent Canadian samples from Ottawa, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia, I saw diatom species that are similar to many above.
Some that I have not seen include
It would be worthwhile and interesting to revisit these Middle East countries for more diatom sampling and analysis.