Bleaching Update: Belize

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at coral.AOML.ERL.GOV
Tue Oct 17 20:42:14 EDT 1995

This message from Melanie McField herewith forwarded to the Coral List: 

---------- Forwarded message ---------- 
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 95 12:48 CST 
From: Melanie McField <Earth.Works at> 
To: Coral Health and Monitoring Program <coral at coral> 
Subject: Bleaching Update: Belize 

Coral Bleaching in Belize: Second Update 

As a follow up to the initial report on September 28, the Coastal Zone 
Management Unit of the Fisheries Department has been gathering information 
on the bleaching situation in Belize.  Anyone who has plans to collect, or 
has collected, data from Belize is requested toforward such data to one of 
the following addresses: 
1. Melanie McField, Coastal Zone Management Project, fax: 501-2-35738 
    E-mail: Earth.Works at 
2. Earl Young, CZMU, Fisheries Department, fax: 501-2-32983 

To date, bleaching has been recorded on reefs off North Ambergris Caye 
(Bacalar Chico, Basil Jones Cut, Mexico Rocks), Hol Chan Marine Reserve, 
Caye Caulker, Sergeant's Caye, Goff's Caye, Southwater Caye, Carrie Bow 
Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Reef, Glovers Reef, reefs off Hopkins and 
Placencia, Snake Cayes, and Sapodilla Cayes.  An aerial survey was carried 
out over the area between Goff's Caye, Gallows Point and the northern part 
of Turneffe Atoll, with some bleaching observed on most of the reefs. 
However, although it is widespread, bleaching is nevertheless patchy, with 
some areas escaping and others being badly affected. In these badly 
affected areas bleaching can be recorded in aerial photographs. 

Underwater surveys, using point intercepts, random points, video transects 
have been carried out. At three locations individual corals have been 
tagged and photographed to monitor recovery. .  The CZMU has developed a 
number of simple methods that can be used by volunteers to help collect 
data on this event, in hopes of expanding the range of field data 
collection. We want to estimate the percent of corals that are bleached, 
the species involved, and the depths at which bleaching occurs, as well as 
the rate of recovery or amount of coral death. We hope to be able to 
incorporate some of the CARICOMP recommendations forwarded by Jeremy 

In most places, the worst bleaching is at shallow depths (1-2 metres) 
behind the reef crest, with preliminary data indicating approximately 50% 
total coral colonies affected by some level of bleaching. The species 
apparently most  affected is Montastrea annularis - all morphs, although 
the smooth (sensu stricto) appears to be the most affected. The maximum 
depth of surveys thus far have only been down to 20 meters, at which depth 
bleaching has been observed, primarily in Agaricia spp.( in deep waters). 

The CZMU is also gathering data on sea water temperature, with the 
assistance of the Meterology Office and others. We do not yet have recent 
satelite sea surface temperatures and would appreciate this data ( or 
instructions on how to locate the data on the internet, if available). 

 Hopefully, one beneficial effect of Hurricane Roxanne will have been that 
it cooled down the waters and may have stopped any further bleaching. An 
updated species list follows: 

Acropora cervicornis 
Agaricia:  agaricites, humilis, tenufolia, grahamae, lamarcki, 
Colpophyllia natans 
Diploria labyrinthiformis, D strigosa 
Dichocoenia stokesii 
Eusimilia fastigiata 
Favia fragum 
Madracis spp (from Wellington) 
Meandrina meandrites 
Montastrea annularus ( all formas), M. cavernosa 
Millepora alcicornis, M. complanata 
Mycetophyllia aliciae, M danaana 
Porites astreoides, P. porites f. porites, divaricata, furcata, 
Siderastrea siderea, S radians 
Stephanocoenia michilini 

Palythoa caribaeourm 
Erythropodium caribaeorum 
Briareum asbestinum 
Eunicea spp. 

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