Reports from Belize
EricHugo at aol.com
EricHugo at aol.com
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.
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.
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