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Plight of coral reefs in tobago


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Educational Presentation on the challenges coral reefs are facing in the Caribbean

Educational Presentation on the challenges coral reefs are facing in the Caribbean

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  • 1. The Plight of Coral Reefs
    in Trinidad & Tobago:
    What are we doing?
    Barry Lovelace, MSc
  • 2. A Non-Profit Company established in 1999
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. Keeping the Balance Right
    The BRT Strategy
  • 5. Keeping the Balance Right
    The BRT Strategy
    Acquiring accurate and reliable data, information and knowledge on marine/coastal resources.
  • 6. 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
  • 7. 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
  • 8. Our Amazing
    Coral Reefs
  • 9. Our Amazing
    Coral Reefs
    Value of reefs
    Understanding corals
    What can we do?
  • 10. Our Amazing
    Coral Reefs
    Geological structures built by living organisms
    Made of calcium carbonate (commonly called limestone)
  • 11. 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
  • 12. Largest brain coral in the Western Hemisphere at Speyside, Tobago
  • 13. Coral Reefs
    Largest brain coral in the Western Hemisphere at Speyside, Tobago
  • 14. Coral Reefs
    Collage of colourful soft corals
  • 15. Coral Reefs
    Diving between barrel sponges at Speyside, Tobago
  • 16. Coral Reefs
    Manta ray at Speyside, Tobago
  • 17. Coral Reefs
    Feather duster worm, Tobago
  • 18. Coral Reefs
    Yellow tube sponge, Tobago
  • 19. Why areCoral Reefsimportant?
  • 20. Why areCoral Reefsimportant?
    In 2006 the World Resource Institute (WRI) presented the estimates of an economic valuation of several Caribbean reefs, Tobago included.
  • 21. Why areCoral Reefsimportant?
    Coral reef-associatedTourism and Recreation
    contributedbetween US$100 and $130 millionto the national economy in 2006
  • 22. Divers at Speyside
  • 23. Glass bottom boat tours at Buccoo Reef
  • 24. Why areCoral Reefsimportant?
    Coral reef-associatedFisheries
    provided annual economic benefits estimated between US$ 0.8 and $1.3 million
    In 2006
  • 25. Important source of protein in the Caribbean
    parrot fish
    Spanish hogfish
  • 26. Why areCoral Reefsimportant?
    Shoreline Protection Services of Coral Reefs
    avoided erosion and storm damage from waves valued between US$18 and $33 million per year
  • 27. Buccoo Reef
    Tobago’s largest fringing reef on the way to becoming a small barrier reef
    Reef dissipates wave energy and prevents coastal erosion
  • 28. Tourism and recreation
    Shoreline Protection
    US$ 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).
  • 29. Understandingthe threats to coral reefs
    Optimum conditions for survival
  • 30. Found worldwide in tropical waters…..
    ….warm, clear shallow water.
  • 31. Coral Polyps build reefs
  • 32. Coral Polyps build reefs
    Most corals consist of many small animals (polyps) living together in a large group or a colony.
  • 33. The Polyp
    Mouth – ingests food; expels waste
    Tentacles – capture food
    Gut – digests food
    Skin – contains zooxanthellae
    Skeleton (coralite cups) – protective calcium carbonate structure
    • Tube-shaped body
    • 34. Sessile
  • The Polyp Gets Energy from:
    Sunlight (90%)
    Filter feeding (10%)
  • 35. Filter feeding
    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.
  • 36. sunlight
    Inner cells
    Energy from sunlight
    Coral polyps retreat into their coralite cups during day.
    Single-celled plants in skin (zooxanthellae), produce food (sugars) from sunlight (photosynthesis).
  • 37. Coral Bleaching!!!
    Inner cells
    • Stress: Temperature rise
    • 38. Polyp expels zooxanthellae
    • 39. colony appears brilliant white
    • 40. 4 – 6 week of bleaching, corals would starve to death.
  • SEPTEMBER 2005
    Bleaching of Fire Corals and Brain Corals first observed!
    Coral Bleaching
  • 41. OCTOBER 2005
    Bleaching spread to most coral species
    Coral Bleaching
  • 42. OCTOBER 2005
    Buccoo Reef Trust and Coral Cay Conservation Team up to survey main reefs for severity and extent of bleaching…
    Coral Bleaching
  • 43. Financial assistance from Tobago House of Assembly and Travel Foundation
    Coral Bleaching
  • 44. Method
    25 Sites were surveyed using Point Intercept Transect
    Report available at
    Coral Bleaching
  • 45. Results
    Overall 66%of hard coral bleached!!
    Report available at
    Coral Bleaching
    At some sites over 85% bleached
  • 46. NOVEMBER 2005 - SEPTEMBER 2006
    Buccoo Reef Trust continue to monitor reefs for recovery/mortality
    Coral Bleaching
  • 47. Method
    8 stations were established from previous survey sites
    Coral Bleaching
  • 48. At each station, 20 discrete colonies were tagged, photographed repeatedly, and analyzed over the period the 10 month period
  • 49. Results
    66% Bleached colonies:
    November 2005
    A Bleached colony
  • 50. Results
    Partial Mortality: 32.5%
    Some areas died: Sept. 2006
    A Bleached colony: Nov. 2005
  • 51. Results
    November 2005
    A Bleached colony
  • 52. Results
    Total Mortality: 6.6%
    Sept. 2006
    A Bleached colony: Nov. 2005
  • 53. What next?
  • 54. How do we deal with Coral Bleaching?
    Reduce stress from human activities
  • 55. Reef Walking…
  • 56. …prevents small corals…
  • 57. …and boat anchors…
  • 58. …kill live corals.
  • 59. Simple solutions to preventing anchor damage
    - Install moorings and reef demarcation buoys
    - Avoid reef walking and contact with corals
  • 60. Algae
  • 61. Runoff from cleared lands results in sedimentation of water…
    Sediment kill reef
  • 62. Introduction
    Sediment kill reef
  • 63. Coral Reef Monitoring Programme
    • Began Jan. 2007 13 fixed stations
    • 64. 10m depth
    • 65. 20 permanent transects each
    • 66. Video captured
    • 67. CPCe software analysis
    • 68. Sediment traps
    • 69. Water quality testing
  • 70. Coral Reef Monitoring Programme
    • Began Jan. 2007 13 fixed stations
    • 71. 10m depth
    • 72. 20 permanent transects each
    • 73. Video captured
    • 74. CPCe software analysis
    • 75. Sediment traps
    • 76. Water quality testing
  • 77. Coral Reef Monitoring Programme
    • Began Jan. 2007 13 fixed stations
    • 78. 10m depth
    • 79. 20 permanent transects each
    • 80. Video captured
    • 81. CPCe software analysis
    • 82. Sediment traps
    • 83. Water quality testing
  • Results:
    Percent Cover of Coral and Macroalgae at reefs around Tobago
  • 84. Results:
    Sediment loading (grams of dry weight) at selected reef stations around Tobago
  • 85. Live Hard Coral Cover Trends at 13 stations
    No change
    North Point
    Sister’s Rock
    Black Jack Hole
    Eng’man Bay
    Spiny Colony
    Arnos Vale
    Mt Irvine
    Buccoo Reef
    Bulldog Reef
  • 86. Results:
    Slow but steady progression of yellow band disease 2007
    January April July October
  • 87. 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.
  • 88. 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.
  • 89. 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
  • 90. 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.
  • 91. 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.
  • 92. 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.
  • 93. What YOU can do!
  • 94. Protecting our sea of lifemust be our way of life!
  • 95. Protecting our sea of lifemust be our way of life!
  • 96. Protecting our sea of lifemust be our way of life!
    Thank you