[Coral-List] Caribbean reef sites with high fish abundance

Douglas Fenner douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Wed May 25 16:22:10 EDT 2011

It used to be that Cozumel, Mexico, was swarming with fish, including some of the big ones.  Nearly all their reefs are protected, and they were pretty serious about protecting them, as diving was a huge income source, it was one of the three biggest foreign exchange earners for Mexico, along with Cancun and Alcapulco.  It was not unusual to have a big black grouper hanging around your dive group like a St. Bernard (though sharks were rare in my experience).  I have not been back for well over a decade and cannot vouch for conditions now.  They used to have spectacular sponge communities, though there was some sponge disease at one point, they had so many sponges that the effects may not have been noticeable, I don't know.  I remember hearing that after an ITMEMS conference, some people from other parts of the Caribbean were surprised how good the condition of the reefs was.  That was some time ago.  There were plenty of parrotfish and angelfish
 in my experience, including big ones.      Cheers,  Doug


From: Tse-Lynn Loh <tehhaliatarik at yahoo.com.sg>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 12:18 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] Caribbean reef sites with high fish abundance

Hello listers,

Do you know of Caribbean reef sites with high abundances of angelfishes and 

As part of my PhD thesis research, I'm in the midst of a Caribbean-wide survey 
to characterise coral reef sponge communities. Broadly, we wish to compare 
sponge community structure between reefs of high and low spongivore abundance, 
and to measure the level of sponge-coral competition at each site. Important 
spongivores include most angelfish, certain species of parrotfish, and 
turtles.  To get a good idea of what a reef with 'high' densities of spongivores 
is like, we have been targeting MPAs within the Caribbean, especially those with 
an extended history of protection. However, we have discovered that many MPAs 
allow fishing in some form, or comprise small protected areas adjacent to 
intensive fishing grounds, and have yet to come across reefs with large numbers 
of large parrotfish or angelfish, and at the MPAs we have visited, there is a 
dearth of large predatory fish (groupers, sharks, barracudas) as well. It has 
been difficult to find good survey sites that are largely unimpacted by fishing, 
and if anyone knows of such sites within the Caribbean, please contact me.

Please direct all correspondence to me at tl7275 at uncw.edu, and thank you in 
advance for your help.

Tse-Lynn Loh
PhD student in Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

More information about the Coral-List mailing list