[Coral-List] Hurricane impact on corals in Cane Bay, St Croix

Melissa Keyes mekvinga at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 15 11:41:34 EDT 2004

Hello, Listers,
Hurricane Hugo hit St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, on September 17, 1989.  The eye passed over the SW corner of the island.  The north shore experienced amazing easterly winds and seas.  The island was swept clean of any greenery, even grass was gone.  
About a month later I went on a shore dive at Cane Bay where I'd been leading SCUBA customers every day for four months.  The reef was so changed that I got lost in the small area that I was intimately familiar with.  Other SCUBA instructors, on getting out of the water said, with strange expressions on their faces, that they'd gotten lost also.
Two years later, I went for a snorkel in this area, in 3-4 meters of depth.  I was amazed to find an absolutely beautiful coral garden, mostly of Porites.  There was no clear area, just a solid cover of corals.  Unfortunately, Hurricanes Luis and Maryland then hit, with huge seas from the north, destroying all these new corals, and even piling reef life, soft corals and sponges, and eels and fishes, to a depth of a meter and width of two or three meters on the beach.  A backhoe was hired to cart away many full sized dumpsters of debris.
Since then, there has been no extreme weather configured like these three storms, and the shallow areas are very silty, with only a small number of new corals.
The good news is a growing population of Diadema, and some very healthy "Elkhorn" colonies.
Melissa Keyes
s/v Vinga, St. Croix, Bonaire

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