Reports from Belize

EricHugo at EricHugo at
Fri Oct 1 12:29:44 EDT 1999

I just returned from a week in Belize and thought I would offer a brief 
summary of conditions on the barrier reef off Ambergris Caye, Tobacco Caye 
and South Water Caye and the atoll reefs of Long Caye and Half Moon Caye.


Bleaching incidence was very low, even in shallow protected areas. I noticed 
several colonies of S. siderea that were pale though not completely bleached 
at South Water Caye.  Small colonies of Porites astreoides and Montastrea 
annularis were noted in very isolated examples to be partially to completely 
bleached at all sites.  

Coral disease:

I found only a single case of BBD on a Diploria strigosa on the back reef of 
Tobacco Caye...this coral had also been previously upturned, possibly from 
Mitch or another storm.  Most disease was noted on the few colonies of A. 
cervicornis present at Half Moon Caye. Some appeared to be WBD and others to 
be WBD Type II. Necrotic tissue was also observed on some M. annularis 
colonies in patchy areas at Long Caye and Half Moon Caye Caye.  Local 
necrosis was present on some sea fans, mostly on damaged or upturned colonies 
which appeared to be similar to the initial stages of Aspergillosis, but 
these may have just been the result of injury.   


There appeared to be a great deal of recovery happening from storm damage on 
these sites.  Most of the sites I visited along the Ambergris Caye barrier 
reef tract appeared to be the most impacted and did not appear to be 
recovering as well as other more remote sites.  There was a great deal of 
cyanobacteria, Dictyota, Lobophora and Padina present here, and it appeared 
to be affecting coral recovery.  However, the reefs did seem to be recovering 
rather than declining in general, and there was a substantial amount of 
fragment attachment and recovery of both A. palmata and A. cervicornis, as 
well as various Agariciids occurring at the southern cayes.  I spent many 
hours replacing A. cervicornis fragments from the sandy bottom into fixed 
positions with tissue contact to hard substrate to aide attachment. There 
were many juvenile coral recruits present and many juvenile fish at all 
sites.  Overall, the reefs at South Water and Tobacco Caye seemed to be the 
healthiest I saw.  

Eric Borneman

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