bleaching in Cambodia

Vicki Nelson vicki at
Wed May 20 01:34:35 EDT 1998

Dear Corallers,

I've just come back from a two-day wander around the islands off
Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Everywhere we went we found corals moderately to
severely bleached. The water is warm (sorry, no thermometers) and very very
turbid (no secchi disk, either). I don't know if that's normal for around
here because there is no baseline data for anything in the marine
environment here. Most of the 'reefs' we visited were dominated by massives
- Porites, Faviids and Mussiids - with very few Acrops and even fewer Pocs.
Nearly all genera were bleached. In some places 80% of the corals were
completely white with sediment beginning to settle on their upper surfaces.

I saw one COT on this trip on Koh Rong Samlem. It was approximately 20 cm
across but there were no feeding scars nearby (I didn't look far). On a
previous trip I saw groups of about 10-20 in a couple of places on Koh
Tang, way out in the Gulf of Thailand. There were plenty of feeding scars,
and the COTS were eating such weird things as Platygyra daedalea, Leptoria
phrygia, Favia stelligera, Echinopora lamellosa, Favites spp and Symphyllia
spp. Mind you, there isn't much Acropora or Pocillopora around for them to
eat, so I guess it's not so surprising that they go for other stuff.

Assuming the political situation in Cambodia does not blow up into a nasty
mess, I'll be back here in August to continue this project. We'll be doing
a Reef Check in August/September (rotten time of year, but we don't have a
choice), so if anyone's in the area and wants to join in, please contact
me. In December-February, the nice time of year for diving, I'll be doing a
lot more detailed work around the islands and should have something a bit
more concrete to say about the state of coral reefs in Cambodia.


Dr Vicki Nelson
Danida Coastal Zone Management Project
PO Box 2298
Phnom Penh 3
email: vicki at

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