Stormy Weather

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at coral.AOML.ERL.GOV
Sat Aug 12 16:04:54 EDT 1995

Unfortunately, the CHAMP (Coral Health and Monitoring Program) Home Page 
and coral-list server were knocked out by Tropical Storm Jerry, but are 
back in the ring.  In light of this storm, the two others that appear to 
be heading this way, and in remembering Hurricane Andrew which struck here 
three years ago yesterday, we offer the following two new abstracts to be 
added to our CHAMP Home Page:  


Blair, S.M.; McIntosh, T.L.; Mostkoff, B.J. 1994. Impacts of 
Hurricane Andrew on the offshore reef systems of central and  
northern Dade County, Florida.  Bull. Mar. Sci. 54(3): 961-973. 

On 24 August 1992, Hurricane Andrew passed in close proximity to  
eight natural reef biological monitoring stations and eleven  
artificial reef sites offshore of Dade County. Eight qualitative  
visual surveys and eight quantitative photogrammetric surveys  
were used to estimate the impact of the hurricane on the natural  
reefs. The forereef slope of the offshore (5 km offshore) reef,  
between 17 and 29 m, was most heavily affected with lesson levels  
of damage occurring on the middle (4 km offshore) reef and least  
loss of organisms noted on the inner (2.5 km offshore) reef. The  
impact to the hard coral, soft coral, sponge and algal components  
varied on a given reef tract. The algal community consistently  
showed the greatest loss (40 to >90%) of benthic cover. The  
sponge community was slightly (0-25%) to heavily (50-75%)  
impacted, showing the greatest loss on the offshore reef and  
least on the inshore reef. Soft corals showed a similar trend  
with 25-50% loss and 0-25% on the offshore and inshore reef,  
respectively.  Hard corals were least affected with a moderate  
loss of benthic cover (38%) on the offshore reef and slight loss  
(< 23%) on the other inner two reefs. The effect of the storm on  
artificial reefs (i.e., steel vessels, prefabricated modules,  
concrete structures) varied greatly. Impacts ranged from no  
impact, to movement, to partial or total structural modification.  
No pattern of damage relative to location, orientation or depth  
of the reef material was discernable. 


Hughes, T.P. 1994. Catastrophes, phase shifts, and large-scale  
degradation of a Caribbean coral reef.  Science Wash. 265(5178):   

Many coral reefs have been degraded over the past two to three  
decades through a combination of human and natural disturbances.  
In Jamaica, the effects of overfishing, hurricane damage, and  
disease have combined to destroy most corals, whose abundance has  
declined from more than 50 percent in the late 1970s to less than  
5 percent today. A dramatic phase shift has occurred, producing a  
system dominated by fleshy macroalgae (more than 90 percent  
cover). Immediate implementation of management procedures is  
necessary to avoid further catastrophic damage. 

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