The Plight of Coral Reefs in Trinidad & Tobago: What are we doing? Presentation by Barry Lovelace, MSc firstname.lastname@example.org 365-4557
A Non-Profit Company established in 1999 www.buccooreeftrust.org
Our Vision The Buccoo Reef Trust envisions a Trinidad and Tobago that has an environment, well conserved so as to allow for the maximization of current opportunities for sustainable livelihoods that enhance the quality of life while protecting the same for the benefit of future generation.
Keeping the Balance Right The BRT Strategy RESEARCH, EDUCATION & CONSERVATION
Keeping the Balance Right The BRT Strategy Acquiring accurate and reliable data, information and knowledge on marine/coastal resources. Research
Keeping the Balance Right The BRT Strategy Educating ‘Trinbagonians’ to understand their impact on the environment and hence motivating informed decisions/actions for sustainable use of resources.(one can only love what one knows) Research + Education
Keeping the Balance Right The BRT Strategy Research and Education causes positive changes in human behaviour and guides innovations and policies toward sustainable living - Conservation Research + Education Conservation
Our Amazing Coral Reefs Value of reefs Understanding corals Threats!! What can we do?
Our Amazing Coral Reefs Geological structures built by living organisms Made of calcium carbonate (commonly called limestone)
Our Amazing Coral Reefs Among the most diverse and complex ecosystems in the world (submarine cities) Among the most heavily utilised and economically valuable resources to humankind Among the most beautiful and fascinating places on earth
Largest brain coral in the Western Hemisphere at Speyside, Tobago
Coral Reefs Largest brain coral in the Western Hemisphere at Speyside, Tobago
Why areCoral Reefsimportant? Coral reef-associatedFisheries provided annual economic benefits estimated between US$ 0.8 and $1.3 million In 2006
Important source of protein in the Caribbean snapper parrot fish Spanish hogfish parrotfish grouper grunt
Why areCoral Reefsimportant? Shoreline Protection Services of Coral Reefs avoided erosion and storm damage from waves valued between US$18 and $33 million per year
Buccoo Reef Tobago’s largest fringing reef on the way to becoming a small barrier reef Reef dissipates wave energy and prevents coastal erosion
Tourism and recreation Fisheries Shoreline Protection US$ 100 – 130 US$ 0.8 – 1.3 US$ 18 – 33 US$ 119 – 164 Why areCoral Reefsimportant? These are significant compared to Tobago’s GDP, which was US$286 million in 2006. Coral reefs provide other important values not captured in study (beaches, cultural, pharmaceuticals).
Understandingthe threats to coral reefs Optimum conditions for survival
Found worldwide in tropical waters….. ….warm, clear shallow water.
The Polyp Gets Energy from: Sunlight (90%) Filter feeding (10%)
Filter feeding nematocyst zooplankton At night, polyps feed on tiny floating animals(zoo-plankton). They paralyse prey with stinging cells callednematocyst. Tentacles pass food to the mouth which then gets digested in the stomach. Waste is expelled through mouth.
sunlight Inner cells zooxanthellae Energy from sunlight Coral polyps retreat into their coralite cups during day. Single-celled plants in skin (zooxanthellae), produce food (sugars) from sunlight (photosynthesis).
Results: Percent Cover of Coral and Macroalgae at reefs around Tobago
Results: Sediment loading (grams of dry weight) at selected reef stations around Tobago www.buccooreef.org
Live Hard Coral Cover Trends at 13 stations Increase No change Decrease North Point Sister’s Rock Black Jack Hole Eng’man Bay Spiny Colony Colloden Arnos Vale Plymouth Mt Irvine Buccoo Reef Kariwak Bulldog Reef Cove
Results: Slow but steady progression of yellow band disease 2007 January April July October
Conclusions The total percent cover of live hard coral on Tobago’s reefs is low, at an average of 17.55% with no significant change over the three years of study.
Both Bulldog and Cove Reef have the lowest amount of live coral (5%) and high macroalgal cover (over 40%), while dead coral composes the rest of the reef. These two sites are down current from Scarborough, the main town in Tobago, and are affected by land-based sources of silt and pollution.
Conclusions The sediment that settles on the study reefs is coming from land. Monitoring stations situated far away from the coast such as Sisters Rocks, had a low sedimentation rate, less than 0.5 gram of dry weight per month, while other study sites like Little Englishman’s Bay had over 60 grams per month.
Three reefs showed increase in live hard coral such as Spiny Colony in Speyside, Plymouth and the Buccoo Reef.
Conclusions Six reefs had no change over the three year study: Bulldog Reef (off Scarborough), Sisters Rocks, Arnos Vale, Mount Irvine, Blackjack Hole (Speyside), and Little Englishman’s Bay.
Four reefs lost live coral cover: Cove reef close to Scarborough, North Point off Charlotteville and Culloden. Kariwak lost more than half of its live coral in 3 years.
The most prevalent coral disease is Yellow Blotch Disease (YBD), which was found in 9 of the 13 monitoring stations infecting Montastraea faveolata
Recommendations We recommend the implementation of policies that address coastal sediment by minimizing soil erosion from agriculture, deforestation and construction. These should include more rigorous procedures for planning and the issuing of Certificates of Environmental Clearance that require the applicant to take steps to prevent mud from entering coastal waters (e.g. the use of sediment traps on construction sites, seeding exposed soil with grass).
All domestic and industrial wastewater should be treated before reaching the sea, or if this is not feasible, diverted to outfall pipes that discharge far from the coastline, in deep water with strong currents.
Recommendations We also recommend the creation of new marine protected areas (MPAs) around Tobago. These MPAs should focus on areas of healthy coral and include areas where fishing activities are restricted, in order to increase populations of herbivores (e.g., parrotfish) which are critically important to the recovery and resilience of coral reefs after bleaching or disease outbreaks (Mumby et al., 2006). MPAs are also known to benefit fisheries and tourism, as they act as fish replenishment reserves where commercially important species of fish and shellfish (e,g, groupers, snappers, lobster) are allowed to grow and reproduce while also providing an attraction for divers and snorkelers.
Recommendations Monitoring programs on coral reefs provide information about the status of these ecosystems and can help to observe changes over time. They can also indicate the factors that have negative impact on the reefs and make suggestions on how to solve them. With this information, policymakers can take action to solve the issues before is too late. Therefore, it’s recommended to continue monitoring coral reefs in Tobago so everyone can be informed about what happens afterwards, and if there is any improvement in the ecosystem. The Reef-check protocol is a very simple and economic way to keep gathering valuable data and should be adopted and applied indefinitely in Tobago.