Coral Reef "Morrocoy SOS" Venezuela (fwd)
Coral Health and Monitoring Program
coral at chaos.aoml.noaa.gov
Sun Jun 30 19:45:04 EDT 1996
This is a forwarded message from Edgard A. Yerena concerning reef damage
in Vensezuela. Sorry I didn't get to it sooner, but I was in Panama at
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 1996 18:57:44 -0400
From: Edgard A. Yerena <eyerena at ccs.internet.ve>
To: hendee at aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Coral Reef "Morrocoy SOS" Venezuela
Dear Dr. Hendee:
In January this year a massive coral reef death occurred in Morrocoy
National Park in the western coast of Venezuela. This rather odd fatality
happened during the last half of the month, most probable dates between the
20th and 25th.
The causes are still not clear. Researchers and experts have outlined 2
major hypothesis: 1- an extremely rare, all of a sudden, drop of surface
sea temperature in the order of 6 to 8 degrees Celsius, and 2- a plume of
an unknown substance and source that some fishermen reported off the coast
during those days. The substance of yellow-brownish colour had a strong
smell and when collected in plastic buckets or glass containers "glued" to
the surfaces of the recipients. A possible explanation for this second
theory suggests that when the plume reached the coastline, the breaking
waves made it sink and kill most of the present biota from the surface down
to 20 meters+, a renowned local dive operator claims it killed everything
down to 40 meters, including fish, crustaceans, and 90-95% of the hard
The barrier reef is lost, only the 3 small cays located east off the park
seem to have survived in a rather good shape. Strange burnt-like scars can
be seen in many coral heads, sponges and other living substrata.
We need support to conduct a deeper insight at what really happened. At the
moment I am trying to get local people organized into an SOS NGO but it is
an uphill way up.
We also need to ask some questions through the worldwide CORAL REEF FORUM
and my friend John R. Clark from Florida suggested your name:
1- Has a massive dissapearance of this magnitude (10 to 12 kms length
approx. of coral reef barrier) ever happened on the planet and has it been
recorded in any way?
2- What could we expect to happen with the sorrounding ecosystems,
mangroves and sea grass beds?
3- What could we expect to happen with the human activities such as tourism
I can take my chances and guess on these questions but would like to
receive some answers from colleagues round the world.
A final point, and I must apologize for extending myself on this, but is
there any possibility of getting NOAA's help or any other competent agency
to access Landsat or other sat images of the area during the days concerned
in order to identify what was happening with the sea surface behavior at
Please answer me at your earliest convenience, I know that the 6th
International Coral Reef Conference is going on in Panama and this might be
the opportunity to spread this SOS. A colleague from the Universidad
Central de Venezuela, Dr. Sheila Pauls Marques is attending the Congress
and will probably be presenting a panel regarding the subject.
Please answer me through either peter at link7.lat.net (Peter Czeisler) and/or
eyerena at ccs.internet.ve since I do not have e-mail access yet.
Thanks & regards,
jose ram=F3n delgado, oceanographer
Edgard Yerena, M.Sc.
Regular Mail: Apartado 68409, Altamira, Caracas 1062, Venezuela
E-Mail: eyerena at ccs.internet.ve
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