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Full text of "World Atlas of Coral Reefs"

UNEP WCMC 



World Atlas of Coral Reefs 

Mark D. Spalding. Corinna Ravilious. and Ednnund P. Green 



The most definitive and comprehensive 
overview yet of a vital part of our 
living w/orld." -- BBC Wildlife 



®iral reefs 



are the most biologically 



diverse marine habitats in the world, host to an 



extraordinary variety of plants and animals. They are 



also one of the world's most fragile and endangered 



ecosystems. The growth of tourism, combined with 



the boom in popularity of scuba diving, has brought 



these spectacular ecosystems to public attention 



around the planet. 



Coral reefs provide essential fish habitat, support 



endangered and threatened species, and harbor 



protected marine mammals and turtles. They are a 



significant source of food, provide income and employ- 



countless other benefits to humans, including supply- 



ing compounds for pharmaceutical development. 



Yet coral reefs around the world are rapidly being 



degraded by human activities such as overfishing. 



coastal development, and the introduction of sewage. 



fertilizer, and sediment. And because corals are highly 



sensitive to changes in water temperature, they are 



particularly vulnerable to climate change. 



The World Atlas of Coral Reefs provides the first 



detailed and definitive account of the state of our 



planet's coral reefs. With its wealth of authoritative and 



up-to-date information, the finest maps available, and 



nn^ 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2010 with funding from 

UNEP-WCIVIC, Cambridge 



Iittp://www.archive.org/details/worldatlasofcora01spal 



World Atlas of Coral Reefs 



The publisher gratefully acknowledges the 
generous contribution to this book provided 
by the Moore Family Foundation. 



Published in association with 
UNEP-WCMC by The University 
of California Press 

University of California Press 

Berkeley and Los Angeles, 

California 

University of California Press, Ltd. 

London, England 

^ 2001 UNEP World Conservation 
Monitoring Centre 

UNEP-WCMC 
219 Huntingdon Road 
Cambridge, CB3 ODL, UK 
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 277314 
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 277136 
E-mail: info@unep-wcmc.org 
Website: www.unep-wcmc.org 



No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, or 
transmitted or translated into a machine language without 
the written permission of the publisher. 



The contents of this volume do not necessarily reflect the views 
or policies of UNEP-WCMC, contributory organizations, editors or 
publishers. The designations employed and the presentations do 
not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of 
UNEP-WCMC or contributory organizations, editors or publishers 
concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area 
or its authority, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or 
boundaries, or the designation of its name or allegiances. 

Cloth edition ISBN: 
0-520-23255-0 

Cataloging-in-Publication data 

is on file with the Library of Congress 

Citation: Spalding M.D., Ravilious C. and Green E.P. (2001). World 
Atlas of Coral Reefs. Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation 
Monitoring Centre. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA. 

Printed in China 
09 

9 



07 

6 



The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements 
of ANSI/NISO Z39. 48-1992 (R 1997) (Permanence of Paper). @ 






UNEP WCMC 





^S T 



ICLARM 

THE WORLD FtSM CGNTER 



World Atlas of Coral Reefs 

Mark D. Spalding, Corinna Ravilious, and Edmund P. Green 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS 

Berkeley Los Angeles London 



World Atlas of Coral Reefs 



Prepared at 

The UNEP World Conservation 
Monitoring Centre 
219 Huntingdon Road 
Cambridge CB3 DDL. UK 
Website; www.unep-wcmc.org 
Director: Mark Collins 

Authors 

Mark D. Spalding 
Connna Ravilious 
Edmund P. Green 

Research assistants 

Sarah Carpenter 
Rachel Donnelly 

Space Shuttle photographic research 

Julie A, Robinson 
Marco Noordeloos 

Photographs 

Edmund R Green and Mark D. Spalding 
unless otherwise stated 




UNEP WCMC 

The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring 
Centre provides objective, scientifically 
rigorous products and services that 
include ecosystem assessments, support 
for implementation of environmental 
agreements, regional and global bio- 
diversity information, research on threats 
and impacts, and development of future 
scenarios for the living world. 

The Centre became the biodiversity 
information and assessment arm of the 
United Nations Environment Programme 
in June 2000. It was founded in 1979 by 
lUCN and in 1988 was transformed into a 
joint activity of lUCN, WWF and UNEP. The 
financial support and guidance of these 
organizations in the Centre's formative 
years is gratefully acknowledged. 



Cartography 

Corinna Ravilious 

Layout 

John Dunne 



Color separations 

Swaingrove 

Printed in China 



A Banson Production 

27 Devonshire Road 
Cambridge, CBl 2BH. UK 
bansonlBou rplanet.com 



Supporting institutions 



Supporting institutions 






The United Nations Environnnent Programme is the principal United Nations body in the field of the 
environment. Its role is to be the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental 
agenda, that promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable 
development within the United Nations system and that serves as an authoritative advocate for the global 
environment. Its objectives include analysis of the state of the global environment and assessment of global 
and regional environmental trends, provision of policy advice and early warning information on environmental 
threats, and to catalyze and promote international cooperation and action, based on the best scientific and 
technical capabilities available. Website; w/ww.unep.org 




ICLARM 



l^w 



ICLARM-The World Fish Center is an international, non-profit research center working to alleviate poverty 
and promote food security through the sustainable development and use of aquatic resources based on 
environmentally sound management. The focus of ICLARM's work is in developing countries and coral reefs 
are one of the key resources systems studied. A major coral reef project led by ICLARM is ReefBase: A Global 
Database on Coral Reefs. ReefBase aims to provide data and information on coral reefs and associated 
shallow tropical habitats, in order to facilitate better understanding of the relationship between human 
activities and the status and dynamics of these environments. Over 110 institutions and individuals have 
contributed information and expert advice to ReefBase, Websites: www.iclarm.org and wiwwreefbase.org 

Scientists in the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center work closely 
with astronaut crews and manage the Earth photography by astronauts on space missions. They also 
facilitate public access to the imagery, with an emphasis on using astronaut photographs for scientific 
studies. The cataloged data and imagery is located at http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov 



The Aventis Foundation, based in Strasbourg, France, was formed in 2000. The Aventis Foundation promotes 
projects at the interface of culture, science, business and society. The Foundation aims to select projects that 
Aventisroundation are international, interdisciplinary, and looking towards the future. One of its prime aims is to identify the 
people who will shape tomorrow and to enable them to contribute to sustainable development through their 
activities in science, politics and society. Website: www, aventis-foundation.org 



PAOI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Project AWARE seeks to increase both the diving 
and non-diving communities' environmental awareness, to encourage responsible interactions between 
humans and the aquatic environment and to emphasize the diver's role in preserving the aquatic realm. 
Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education at www.projectaware.org 



Marine 

Aquarium 

Council 



The non-profit fvlarme Aquarium Council is an international network that brings together environment 
organizations, the aquarium industry, aquarium keepers (hobbyists), public aquariums, government agencies 
and others to ensure quality and sustainability in the collection, culture and commerce of marine ornamentals. 
MAC IS doing this by developing an international system of certification and labeling that will: establish 
standards for quality products and practices; document compliance with these standards and label the results; 
and create consumer demand and confidence for labeled "products" from certified industry operators. 
Paul Holthus, Executive Director, 923 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817, USA. Tel: (1 8081 550 8217; 
Fax: (1 808) 550 8317; E-mail: pauLholthusHaquanumcounciLorg; Website: wAvw.aquariumcouncil.org 



ICRI 



LvrERjNATlUNAI- 
CORALREtl 
INITUTIVE 



The International Coral Reef Initiative is a voluntary partnership that allows representatives of over 
80 countries with coral reefs to work with major donor countries and development banks, international 
environmental and development agencies, scientific associations, the private sector and NGOs to decide on 
the best strategies to conserve the world's coral reef resources. ICRI is not a permanent structure or 
organization, but an informal network linked by a global Secretariat. Website: http://icriforum.org/ 



Dulverton Trust 



The Dulverton Trust is a UK grant-making charitable trust, with an interest in the field of conservation. It 
was founded by Lord Dulverton in 1949. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Acknowledgments 



The authors would like to thank the many 
organizations that have lent financial or other 
support at various stages in the preparation of this 
work. These include the United Nations Environment 
Programme Division of Early Warning and Assessment, the 
Dulverton Trust, ICLARM, NASA, the Aventis Foundation, 
the Marine Aquarium Coimcil and PADI. We would also 
like to express our gratitude to the Moore Foundation for 
providing support for the production costs of this book. 

Both Sarah Carpenter and Rachel Donnelly provided 
excellent support as research assistants during the prepara- 
tion of this work. The information behind these maps has 
been compiled over seven years and many thanks are due to 
all those who have helped, including Mary Edwards, Simon 
Blyth, Jonathan Rhind and the "placement students" 
Annabel Lee, Ivor Wheeldon, Alastair Grenfell, Susannah 
Hirsh, Joanna Hugues and Chantal Hagen. Also in 
Cambridge, many thanks are owed to the staff of the 
University Library Map Room for all their help over 
the years. In UNEP we are also very grateful to Dan 
Claasen. Salif Diop, Agneta Nilsson and Arthur Dahl for 
their constant support. 

Colin Watkins has been an incredible support on this 
project, not only with fund-raising but also with his 
persistence, vision and optimism; thank you Colin. Thanks 
also to Heather Cross, Mary Cordiner and Will Rogowski at 
UNEP-WCMC. In the evenings and weekends. Mania 
Spalding and Stephen Grady have shown great patience and 
tolerance of the crazy hours we put in to prepare this book 
- many thanks indeed to both of them. 

We are extremely grateful to Charlie Veron, who not 
only reviewed part of the text and supplied some 
photographs, but also provided his newly prepared coral 
distribution data and thoroughly reviewed our resulting 
species lists. Thanks to Clive Wilkinson, Bernard Salvat 
and Lauretta Burke for supplying data and general 
encouragement. Thanks to the many others in the 
International Coral Reef Initiative for their kind support. 
Jerry Kemp, Doug Perrine, Giotto Castelli and Colin 
Fairhurst also provided some valuable additions to the 
photographs. 

Julie A Robinson has worked long and hard on the 
images from Space Shuttle and Mir, while, at an earlier 
stage, Marco Noordeloos spent countless hours sorting 
through thousands of images to select those clearly 
showing coral reefs. In addition to this, without the many 
efforts of Kamlesh P LuUa it would not have been possible 



for the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at 
Johnson Space Center to contribute to this book. Thanks 
are due to NASA astronauts for their continuing efforts 
to photograph coral reef areas from orbit, and to all the 
members of the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis 
Laboratory who have over the years supported astronaut 
photography of Earth. Particular thanks are due to the 
support staff and those who helped in checking the 
annotations. The Digital Imaging Laboratory at Johnson 
Space Center gave special attention to making the high- 
quality digital copies of film products that were the 
starting point for the images that appear in the book. 

Thanks must also go to Lonely Planet/Pisces Books 
who provided a number of copies of their Diving and 
Snorkelling Guides. 

In addition, considerable thanks are owed to the many 
reviewers, listed below, who have checked over large parts 
of the text. These have greatly improved the final quality of 
the texts. However, any errors which remain are solely the 
responsibility of the authors. 

In Part I: Stephen Grady, Lucy Conway and Sarah 
Carpenter (Chapters 1-3), David Woodruff (primarily 
Chapter 1) and Paul Holthus (aquarium trade and 
certification). 

In Part II: Jeremy Woodley (Chapters 4 and 5), Hector 
Reyes BoniUa (Mexico), Juan Manuel Diaz (Colombia), 
Hector Guzman (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and 
Panama), Sheila Marques Pauls (Venezuela) and Clive 
Petrovic (British Virgin Islands). 

In Part III: David Obura (East Africa), Nyawira 
Muthiga (Kenya), Chris Horrill, Martin Guard, Matthew 
Richmond and Jason Reubens (Tanzania), Jean Pascal 
Quod (Eastern Africa), Arjan Rajasuriya (South Asia), 
Charles Anderson (Maldives), Charles Sheppard (Chagos 
Archipelago), Alain de Grissac (northern Red Sea), Lyndon 
DeVantier (Middle Eastern reefs), Jeremy Kemp (Red Sea, 
southern Arabia), Rupert Ormond (northern Red Sea), 
Hansa Chansang (Thailand), HM Ibrahim (Malaysia), 
Laura David (Philippines), Vo Si Tuan (Vietnam), CF Dai 
(Taiwan) and Andre Jon Uychiaoco (Southeast Asia). 

In Part IV: JEN Veron (Australia), Robin South 
(Melanesia and Polynesia), Aaron Jenkins (Papua New 
Guinea), Duncan Vaughan (Fiji), John Gourley (Mariana 
Islands), Darrin Drumm (Cook Islands) and Flinn Curren 
(American Samoa). 

Thanks are also due to James Nybakken for his overall 
appraisal of the text. 



Contents 



Contents 



Introduction 



Essential information 



PARTI 

Understanding Coral Reefs 

Chapter 1 

The World of Coral Reefs 

Defining coral reefs 
Patterns of diversity 
Quantifying diversity 
Organisms of the coral reef 

Chapter 2 
Signs of Change 

The importance of reefs 
Threats to reefs 
Responses 

Chapter 3 
Reef Mapping 

Reef mapping techniques 
Global reef mapping 



PART II 

The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific 



92 



12 





Chapter 4 






Northern Caribbean 


95 




Florida and the US Gulf of Mexico 


97 


13 


Bermuda 


101 




Bahamas 


103 




Turks and Caicos Islands 


106 


U 






15 


Chapter 5 




19 


Western Caribbean 


110 


27 


Mexico 


113 


29 


Belize 

Honduras. Nicaragua, Guatemala 


117 




and El Salvador 


121 


Ab 


Costa Rica and Panama 


125 


47 


Colombia and Ecuador 


130 


56 


Cuba 


135 


66 


Jamaica 


139 




Cayman Islands 


U1 


78 


Chapter 6 




81 


Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 


U7 


89 


Haiti, the Dominican Republic and 





Navassa Island 1^' 

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands 153 

The Lesser Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago 1 58 

Venezuela and Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao 168 

Brazil and West Africa 1 73 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



PART III 

The Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia 



178 



PART IV 

The Pacific Ocean 



300 



Chapter 7 

Western Indian Ocean 

Kenya and southern Somalia 

Tanzania 

Mozambique and South Africa 

Madagascar 

Mayotte, Comoros and outlying islands 

Seychelles 

Mauritius and Reunion 

Chapter 8 

Central Indian Ocean 

India. Pakistan and Bangladesh 

Sri Lanka 

Maldives 

British Indian Ocean Territory 

Chapter 9 

Middle Eastern Seas 

Northern Red Sea: Egypt, Israel, Jordan 

Saudi Arabia 

Central Red Sea: Sudan 

Southern Red Sea: Eritrea and Yemen 

Southern Arabian Region: Yemen, Djibouti, 

northern Somalia and Oman 
Arabian Gulf: United Arab Emirates, 

Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran 



Chapter 11 



180 


Australia 






302 


183 


West Australia 






305 


186 


North Australia 






309 


191 


Torres Strait and the 


Great Barrier Reef 


310 


194 


The Coral Sea 






319 


197 


High latitude reefs 






320 


200 










205 


Chapter 12 
Melanesia 

Papua New Guinea 






323 
325 


212 


Solomon Islands 






330 


215 


New Caledonia 






334 


219 


Vanuatu 






338 


221 


Fiji 






342 


226 


Chapter 13 
Micronesia 






348 


233 


Commonwealth of thi 


5 Northern 


Mariana 




235 


Islands and Guam 






351 


2/10 


Palau and the Federa 


ted States 


of 




2-13 


Micronesia 






354 


lUk 


Marshall Islands 
Kiribati and Nauru 






360 
363 



247 
251 



Chapter 10 

Southeast Asia 259 

Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia 261 

Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam 266 



Chapter 14 
Polynesia 

Tuvalu and Wallls and Futuna 

Tokelau, Samoa and American Samoa 

Tonga and Niue 

Cook Islands 

French Polynesia, the Pitcairn Islands 



Indonesia 


272 


and Cllppertor 


Philippines 


281 


Hawaii and the 


Spratly Islands, Tung-Sha IDongsha 






Qundaol Reefs and the Paracel Islands 


287 




Vietnam and China 


289 


Technical notes 


Taiwan and Japan 


293 


Index 



369 

371 
373 
377 
381 

385 

392 



401 
404 



Introduction 



Introduction 



Coral reefs are one of the world's most spectacular 
ecosystems. They straddle the tropics and cut a 
broad swathe around the globe. They are clearly 
visible, even from space, as patterns of dazzling colors 
tracing the edges of coastlines and scattering far out 
into the oceans. Up close, the magic of coral reefs is 
magnified. These ecosystems are packed with the highest 
densities of animals to be found anywhere on the planet. 
Thronging with life, they rival even the tropical rainforests 
in terms of diversity. 

From a human perspective coral reefs are not only a 
source of wonder and fascination. They also represent a 
critical resource for millions of people. For millennia 
coastal peoples have relied on coral reefs as a source of 
food. The wide strips of coral reefs lining their shores 
have also provided protection from the worst onslaughts 
of tropical storms. Over the centuries, these same reefs 
have actually provided the sand for the beaches and even 
the rocks which make up the islands on which so many 
people live. In more recent times coral reefs have become 
the treasured destination for millions who have sought 
peace and rest on tropical shores, or adventure, diving into 
the world of the coral reef These same travelers are 
providing a new source of income and employment for 
some of the world's most impoverished nations. Into the 
future, reefs have the capability to provide new resources 
for the world's burgeoning populations, most notably with 
the development of new pharmaceuticals. 



How little we know 

It is possible, even today, to pick up the best navigational 
charts for certain areas and find quite shocking gaps in 
our knowledge. For some parts of the world, the best 
information about the location and dimensions of coral 
reefs was gathered by Captain James Cook and others in 
the 1 8th century. On some of these "modern" charts there 
remain dotted lines showing "possible" locations of reefs, 
or notes describing reefs as "position unconfirmed". 
While sea monsters no longer populate our maps, many of 
the gaps where they once sat still remain. 

This lack of knowledge is not simply confined to 
knowing where the reefs are. Efforts to quantify the total 
numbers of species which are found on reefs remain 
largely restricted to wild extrapolations and educated 
guesses. As many as 100 000 species may have been 



named and described from coral reefs, but the total num- 
ber inhabiting the world's reefs may be anything between 
half and 2 million, perhaps more. 

In some ways this lack of knowledge is not 
surprising. Many reefs are remote and, as they are far from 
regular shipping traffic, efforts to map these areas have 
not been prioritized. Without good charts other navigators 
remain cautious about sailing in such areas. From an 
ecological perspective our knowledge has been further 
hampered by the fact that humans are terrestrial, air- 
breathing creatures. Early scientists could only peer down 
with fascination through the intervening waters which 
separated them from the reefs, or haul up dead or dying 
samples for inspection. Only in the 1950s did scuba- 
diving become a popular and relatively safe activity, and 
our scientific knowledge of the ecology of reefs has 
almost entirely been amassed over the last 50 years. 



The World Atlas of Coral Reefs 

This atlas presents a unique compendium of information. 
It provides a summary of what we know about the geo- 
graphic distribution and status of coral reefs at the start of 
the third millennium. Unfortunately, even as we have 
begun to gather this information, the reefs themselves 
have been changing. The atlas also provides information 
on the changes which have already occurred, and on the 
human impacts on the coral reefs in every country. 

This atlas is primarily an information resource. 
Putting such information together at the global level is 
more than a summary, however, and provides us with an 
entirely new perspective. 

The first three chapters provide a global review of the 
coral reefs, firstly taking an ecological and geological 
perspective, then a human perspective, and finally looking 
more specifically at the task of mapping coral reefs. The 
main bulk of the book is then focussed towards a region- 
by-region review of coral reefs. 

The most important resource in any atlas is the maps 
themselves. The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring 
Centre first commenced its global coral reef mapping 
work in 1994 and has now developed the most detailed 
global maps of coral reefs in existence. These maps show 
the distribution of the vast majority of the world's shallow 
coral reefs. Equally important with the maps in this atlas 
has been to place the location of coral reefs in a wider 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



context. The maps in this book thus show major natural 
features (forests, rivers, topography and bathymetry), but 
also significant human factors, including settlements, dive 
centers and marine protected areas. 

The texts and tables provide information which 
enables a more detailed interpretation of the information 
provided on the maps, including information which cannot 
directly be shown on the maps themselves. For all coun- 
tries and territories where there are reefs, basic information 
is provided describing the distribution of the reefs and 
some ecological features. Human uses and impacts on 
coral reefs are fiarther considered, including efforts to 
control such impacts or protect coral reefs. Data tables list 
all the protected areas with coral reefs, but also provide 
directly comparable information describing the countries, 
their reefs, and the human impacts on these. 

Users of this book can learn about the location and 
status of coral reefs around the world. Those traveling 
regularly to coral reef areas, for leisure or for work, can use 
the World Alias of Coral Reefs to learn about new areas 
before they visit, to get a basic grounding in the ecology of 
coral reefs, and to consider the issues and challenges facing 
reefs in particular areas. Experts from particular locations, 
or in particular subjects, can learn about other areas, and 
gain useful information about different parts of the world. 

A considerable amount of information held within the 
pages of this atlas has never been published before. 

■ The work includes a new, revised global estimate of the 
total area of coral reefs worldwide. In Chapter 1 it is esti- 
mated that shallow coral reefs worldwide occupy some 
284 300 square kilometers, an area about half the size of 
Madagascar. This is less than 1.2 percent of the world's 
continental shelf area, and only 0.09 percent of the total 
area of the world's oceans. Coral reefs are a scarce, but 
critically important resource. 

■ An assessment of the area of coral reefs in individual 
countries provides an important perspective on the 
ownership and responsibilities associated with this critical 
heritage. Indonesia is the largest coral reef country in the 
world, followed by Australia and the Philippines. Also 
high up the list are many small nations in terms of land 
area: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Maldives, the Marshall 
Islands, Solomon Islands, Bahamas and Cuba. 



■ Using information from the new taxonomic work 
Corals of the World, JEN Veron has provided the very 
latest information on coral biodiversity around the world. 
National statistics have been calculated for all countries 
and clearly illustrate the critical heritage which is 
currently being threatened by human activities. The most 
diverse region of the world for coral reefs is centered on 
the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New 
Guinea, with between 500 and 600 species of coral in each 
of these countries. Unfortunately these are also some of 
the most threatened coral reefs in the world. 

■ Reef tourism is now a major global industry. Visitors 
to the Great Barrier Reef increased from I.I million in 
1985 to over 10 million in 1995. Scuba diving is probably 
the most popular adventure sport in the world and vast 
numbers of scuba divers visit coral reefs every year. A 
new database has been gathered which gives the location 
of dive centers around the world. This contains infor- 
mation on over 2 000 dive centers, marked on the maps 
throughout this work. They show, quite clearly, that diving 
tourism is now ubiquitous, and is located in 91 countries 
and states. 

■ Marine protected areas are becoming a critical tool for 
the protection of coral reefs worldwide. They are being 
widely used, not only for conservation, but also to enhance 
fish catches, by protecting small stocks of fish which are 
able to resupply adjacent areas. There are now some 660 
marine protected areas worldwide which incorporate coral 
reefs. These include two of the world's largest protected 
areas, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the northwestern 
Hawaiian Islands, covering entire large ecosystems. 

■ Unfortunately, many protected areas exist on paper 
only - they are poorly managed and have little or no sup- 
port or enforcement. Equally worrying is that in almost 
every single case, protected areas are aimed solely at 
controlling the direct impacts of humans on coral reefs. 
Fishing and tourist activities may be controlled, but the 
more remote sources of threats to reefs, notably pollution 
and sedimentation from the adjacent land, continue 
unabated. Without a more concerted effort to control all of 
the impacts of humans on coral reefs even the best 
managed marine protected areas may be managed in vain. 



■ The same statistics also point to the important role 
which a number of the world's very wealthy nations could 
play in protecting the world's coral reefs. Australia, 
France, the UK, the USA and even New Zealand hold 
jurisdiction or significant influence over coral reefs in 
their own waters and in the waters of their overseas 
territories and associated states. Together these cover over 
one quarter of the world's coral reefs. 



■ There are other stories, however, which provide 
valuable examples of success. Fisheries reserves in a few 
areas are now revitalizing the food supplies and eco- 
nomies of local villages, while tourist income is paying 
for the wise management of a number of important areas. 
It is vital that the messages from these sites are carried as 
swiftly as possible to all countries and communities who 
depend on coral reefs. 



Introduction 



Aside from such clear statistics, the pages of this atlas 
reveal a startling, recurring tale of degradation and loss. 

■ Corals are extremely sensitive to increases in 
temperature, exhibiting a stress response known as coral 
bleaching. Records of such bleaching have increased 
considerably in recent years, and in 1998 a global mass 
bleaching event occurred, with devastating mass mortali- 
ties of corals in many areas. Recovery is now underway, 
but there are very real concerns about the recurrence of 
such events with global climate change. 

■ In the Caribbean apparently natural damage from 
disease and hurricanes has been exacerbated by the 
impacts of human activities, and reefs have lost coral 
cover and diversity in almost every country, even in many 
apparently remote and protected locations. 

■ In Southeast Asia burgeoning populations and rising 
living standards are placmg untenable pressures on the 
coral reefs, and many are succumbing, no longer able to 
provide the fish and other resources which have supported 
coastal populations for generations. 

■ Even the more remote reefs worldwide are not secure. 
In the past, remote atolls in the Pacific have been used for 
testing nuclear weapons and for dumping waste, and even 
today a number are still used for military target practice. 
More widespread has been the impact of fisheries. In 
many places traditional management and restraint has 
enabled sustainable use of fish resources, but such 
traditional systems are breaking down in some areas, 
while better transport and high prices are driving stocks of 
some target species towards complete disappearance, even 
in quite remote locations. 



The problems facing the world's reefs 

Natural changes are a part of any ecosystem, and we are 
still at the early stages of understanding the natural 
dynamics of coral reefs. However, the 20th century saw 
the near exponential growth of human populations, 
combined with even more rapid increases in consumer 
demands being placed on the planet's limited resources, 
and such trends are set to continue through the 21st 
century. Humans are thus bringing new pressures to bear 
on the worlds coral reefs and driving more profound 
changes, more rapidly, than any natural impact has ever 
done. Overfishing has become so widespread that there 
are few, if any, reefs in the world which are not threatened. 
This, combined with such destructive practices as blast 
fishing, is shifting the patterns and balances of life in 
many reef ecosystems. From onshore a much greater suite 
of damaging activities is taking place. Often remote from 



reefs, deforestation, urban development and intensive 
agriculture are now producing vast quantities of sediments 
and pollutants which are pouring into the sea and rapidly 
degrading coral reefs in close proximity to many shores. 

The impacts of these activities affect not only the 
reefs, but also the many millions of coastal peoples who 
depend upon them for sustenance and income. In many 
areas these changes are so rapid that we are unable to 
document the existence of reefs before they are degraded. 
We have no idea how much has already gone. 

A further specter overshadowing the world of coral 
reefs is that of global climate change. It is now universally 
accepted that the global climate is changing at an accel- 
erated rate as a result of human activities. Coral reefs, it 
would appear, are among the most vulnerable ecosystems to 
rising sea surface temperatures. Coming on top of the other 
threats already mentioned, it seems highly probable that the 
predicted rises in sea surface temperatures over the next 
century may well cause the total demise of at least some of 
these critical, valuable and beautiful ecosystems. 

Faint glimmers of hope 

As our knowledge and our concern about coral reefs is 
increasing, so are the efforts to redress the problems. 
Overfishing is a worldwide problem, and its most dam- 
aging impact is on the fishing communities themselves. 
Thankfully, examples are now cropping up around the globe 
of successful management efforts which can remedy the 
problem. By setting aside small areas as "no-take" zones, 
local communities are finding that there are enormous 
benefits. Fish stocks build up in these zones and spill over 
into the surrounding area such that the overall yield of fish 
fi-om the wider area is increased. Everyone benefits. 

Tourism has caused considerable damage, through the 
unplanned coastal development and pollution which are so 
often linked to it. The sewage systems of many hotels empty 
directly into the waters where the guests swim, and the 
damage to reefs can be considerable. Increasing awareness, 
however, is leading to better controls on development and 
major efforts to improve sewage treatment. As such 
measures develop, tourism can become a force for good, 
giving an added value to reefs in the eyes of the local 
communities, and often providing a direct income, through 
park fees, for the management of marine protected areas. 

Most importantly, our increasing understanding of 
the interactions between humans and reefs, and between 
terrestrial activities and their downstream impacts in the 
coastal zone, are allowing for the development of integrated 
planning. We are aware of the problems, and have the 
solutions. The challenge is to apply them. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Essential information 



Key to all maps in Chapters A to U, labeled a-j 



Coral reef 

Mangrove 

Dive center 

Population center 

International boundary 

River 

Water body 

Land 

Forest 



National marine protected area 

National marine protected area (boundary unknown! 

International protected area 

International protected area [boundary unknown! 



Bathymetry 



0-200 meters 
200-2 000 meters 
> 2 000 meters 



Space Shuttle photographs 

^^^m^^^^^HQ Approximate North arrow 
I — ^ ^ I 7 km Approximate scale 
ISTS062-84-70. 19941 NASA archive number 



Throughout this publication the use of na indicates that no 
relevant information is available. 



For technical notes regarding the text, maps and data tables, see page A01 . 



Unde rstanding Coral Reefs 13 



Parti 



Understanding Coral Reefs 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 1 

The World of Coral Reefs 




Coral reefs are among the most diverse and 
complex of all ecosystems; tfiey are among 
the most heavily utilized and economically 
valuable to humankind; and they are also 
among the most beautiful and fascinating. 
In order to understand what lies behind such acco- 
lades It Is Important to appreciate exactly what coral 
reefs are, how they are formed and where they are 
found. Building on such a foundation it is also valu- 
able to develop a basic understanding of some of the 
organisms that make up the complexity of life on coral 
reefs, and what role they play In maintaining these 
ecosystems. Such knowledge provides the basis for 
a wider understanding of the Interactions of humans 
and reefs. It Is also critical for understanding the 



changes that are now occurring on coral reefs, and for 
responding to such changes. 

This chapter offers a simple definition and des- 
cription of coral reefs. It goes on to orovlde an overview 
of their distribution, and of the organisms that make 
them up. It considers the elements determining these 
distribution patterns, from factors of geological history 
to present day limiting processes and the very impor- 
tant role of ocean currents. The chapter also looks 
briefly into some of the patterns of biodiversity which 
are observed at finer resolutions, patterns which are 
observed between neighboring reefs, and zonation 
patterns across individual reefs. Finally, the chapter 
provides an overview of the main organisms which 
make up the patterns of life on coral reefs. 



Above, left: Midway Islands ISTS055-82-63. 19931. Above, right: The edge of the reef, with spur and groove formations. Great 
Barrier Reef Below, left: Shallow waters of an atoll lagoon. Below, right: The intricate branches of an Acropora coral. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Defining coral reefs 



For all those who have seen one, a coral reef is 
relatively simple to describe. From land or from the 
air, reefs are usually clearly visible, marked by a 
complex patterning of bright colors. These arrays of blues, 
turquoises and greens delimit a diverse and complex 
physical structure coming close to the ocean surface. The 
shallowest points are frequently shown by the brilliant 
white of breaking surf and may even briefly become 
dry land during the lowest tides. From underwater the 
complexity is still more clearly shown - reefs are typified 
by the presence of large stony corals growing in profusion 
and by an often bewildering array of species growing or 
moving among them. Moving across a reef patterns or 
zones become apparent, each dominated by different 
organisms, depending on factors such as depth, shelter 
and water movements. 

Although simplistic, such descriptions incorporate 
the key elements of a more thorough scientific definition 
of a coral reef Coral reefs are shallow marine habitats, 
defined both by a physical structure and by the organisms 
found on them. 

Corals themselves are very simple organisms. They are 
found in all the worlds oceans, at all depths. Although 
described in more detail later in this chapter, typically they 
have a very small cylindrical body, topped with a ring of 
tentacles which are used to capture food from the sur- 
rounding waters. A large number of corals have developed 
the ability to live in colonies and to build up a communal 
skeleton. Among these are many species which lay down a 
stony skeleton of calcium carbonate. These corals are 
known as hermatypic or reef-building corals. They are 
almost entirely confined to areas of warm, shallow water, 
and it is their skeletons, essentially built of limestone, 
which are critical to the formation of coral reefs. 

Even in ideal conditions, these hermatypic corals are 
slow growing. Some massive corals, which typically grow 
as large dome-shaped structures, may build up a skeleton 
at rates of just a few millimeters per year. The faster 
growing tips of branching corals may extend at rates of 
150 millimeters per year or more. 

Over centuries or millennia the active growth of these 
corals (alongside other organisms such as coralline algae, 
which also lay down calcium carbonate skeletons) leads to 
the building up of vast carbonate structures. The process 
is not simple, and numerous additional factors come into 
play. Storms frequent many areas of tropical coastlines 
and the waves they produce can, quite literally, pound a 
reef to rubble in a few hours. Over longer time scales, 



corals are eroded by countless organisms. Some fish bite 
large chunks out of them, digesting the coral tissues and 
algae on their surface. Unseen but equally important is a 
great diversity of bio-eroding organisms that burrow into 
or chemically dissolve the coral rock, weakening and 
destroying its structure. Sand and rubble from these 
apparently destructive activities often fill the interstices of 
the reef while certain algae and other corals may then 
bind or overgrow such loose materials, cementing them 
together with more calcium carbonate to form a yet more 
solid structure. 

In this way a coral reef is built. Only a tiny fraction of 
the growth of individual corals is converted into upwards 
development of a reef structure, and so their formation 
takes place over geological time scales. The most rapid 
periods of reef "growth" have shown upwards accu- 
mulation of reef structures reaching 9-15 meters in 1 000 
years in some areas, but much lower figures are probably 




-■ 


■r-i 




^:^ 
"i 












V. 


^^s^^l 





Above: Individual polyps of the great star coral Montastrea cavernosa, clearly showing the cylindrical body, with a ring of 
tentacles. Below: The growth of numerous corals builds up the massive physical structure of an Indian Ocean reef. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



more normal. In fact the majority of reef structures that 
exist today are not the result of continuous growth, but of 
pulses of growth interspersed with quiescent periods, or 
even periods of erosion, when the reefs might be defined 
as fossil or non-living reefs. Sea levels in the oceans have 
varied dramatically, particularly during the recent ice 
ages, and many reefs have intermittently become dry land, 
or have been flooded by waters too deep to allow corals to 
grow. Between these extremes, however, some of these 
fossil structures become recolonized by corals and reef 
development recommences. 

Over shorter time scales, the division between an 
actively growing coral reef and a fossil reef is, in many 
areas, unclear No reef is in a constant state of growth. 
During major tropical storm events, all reefs undergo 
losses in coral cover and often considerable erosion of 
their physical structure. Over years or decades, the extent 
of actively growing coral cover also varies considerably. 
Recently observed events, including coral disease, coral 
bleaching, outbreaks of the coral-feeding crown-of-thorns 
starfish, or the die-off of important grazers such as the 
long-spined sea urchin (see page 61), have all produced 
considerable losses of live coral cover to some reefs. 
Recovery from such events points to a natural resilience, 
but also shows that any understanding of a "reef" measured 
from only one particular moment in time will be limited. 

Takmg such points into consideration, a coral reef can 
thus be more rigorously defined as a physical structure 
which has been built up, and continues to grow over 
decadal time scales, as a result of the accumulation of 
calcium carbonate laid down by hermatypic corals and 
other organisms. The manner in which such structures 
develop has led to the recognition of a number of types of 
reef, while there are also many other communities which, 
while not as obviously covered by these definitions, are 
clearly related and equally important. 



Types of reef 



Corals can only grow in warm, well lit waters and require 
a solid surface on which to settle. These factors restrict the 
initial appearance of hermatypic corals to shallow rocky 
substrates in the tropics. As corals proliferate, their 
skeletons provide a solid substrate for the appearance and 
settlement of more corals and other organisms. The 
upward growth of a physical reef structure can also allow 
corals to continue to grow in shallow well lit waters, even 
if the basement on which they are growing subsides or sea 
levels rise. 

Fringing reefs are perhaps the simplest structures to 
understand. These develop from the simple upward growth 
of a calcium carbonate platform from a shelving coastline. 
Because growth is most rapid and prolific in shallow 
water the corals quickly grow to the surface and produce 
a shallow platform which is usually around the level of the 
lowest tides. Further offshore growth is slower, but the 
typical structure of a mature fringing reef includes a 
shallow platform out to a sharply defined edge, the reef 
crest, beyond which there is a steeply shelving reef front 
dropping down to the sea floor. 

Barrier reefs are usually older structures rising up 
from a deeper base at some distance from the shore, with 
a lagoon separating them from the coast. Some have 
their origins as fringing reefs on shelving coastlines, but 
develop when the coastline on which they are growing 
subsides or is flooded by rising sea levels. Under these 
conditions the fringing reef continues to grow upwards, 
but deeper waters fill in a lagoon between this structure 
and the coastline. In other cases barrier reefs may have 
simply developed in offshore locations, but still remain 
separated from the coast by a lagoon. 

Atolls are unique reef formations, broadly circular, 
and enclosing a wide lagoon. They are typically found 
in oceanic locations, away from the continental shelf 



Figure 1.1: The main types of coral reef structure 



Barrier 
reel 



Bank or 

platform 

reef 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Darwin was the first to correctly understand their origin. 
They initially form as fringing reefs around isolated 
usually volcanic, islands. Such islands then subside, but 
the reefs continue to grow, first forming a barrier around 
the sinking island, but then, as the island disappears 
beneath the surface, forming a single ring of coral. The 
depths of coral limestone which may accrue on these 
structures are considerable - drilling in the Marshall 
Islands has revealed reef deposits up to 1.4 kilometers in 
depth, dating back over 50 million years. 

Bank or platform reefs are simple physical structures 
with a variety of origins. They are essentially reefs with 
no obvious link to a coastline, but without the clear struc- 
ture of a barrier reef or atoll. In some cases they may have 
similar origins to either of the latter, but do not hold back 
or encircle a lagoon, in other cases they may have simply 
grown up over natural rises in the coastal shelf Larger or 
slightly submerged reef structures of this type are also 
sometimes referred to as shoals. 

Other types of reef and coral communities 

These reef types can be clearly illustrated (Figure 1.1). 
However, the reality often reveals many other structures 
which do not conform quite so easily to strict definitions. 
Near-atolls are described in a few areas where there is a 
tiny remnant of the original high island in the center of an 
atoll ring. There are also a considerable number of atoll- 
like platform reefs which may not have the true geological 
origin of an atoll (around a subsiding volcanic island), but 
where the surface structure is almost exactly that of an 
atoll. There are also a number of structures which lie 
offshore in the location of a true barrier reef, but which 
may not quite conform to the definition or geological 
origin of a barrier reef Bank barriers are commonly 
described in parts of the Caribbean where small banks lie 
at some distance offshore and sometimes do not rise all 



Figure 1 .2: The development of an atoll, based on 
Darwin's original theory 

A volcanic island is colonized by corals and becomes 
surrounded by a fringing reef. 




The island itself subsides, the corals continue to grow 
and a barrier reef is formed. 




The island is lost, but coral maintains upward 
growth and a ring-shaped atoll is formed. 




Table 1.1: Estimates of global reef area calculated from the reef maps 



Region 


Area (km^) 


% of world total 


Atlantic and Caribbean 


21 600 


7.6 


Caribbean 


20 000 


7.0 


Atlantic 


1 600 


0.6 


Indo-Pacific 


261 200 


91.9 


Red Sea and Gulf of Aden 


llAOO 


6.1 


Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea 


/,200 


1.5 


Indian Ocean 


32 000 


11.3 


Southeast Asia 


91 700 


32.3 


Pacific 


115 900 


40.8 


Eastern Pacific 


1 600 


0.6 


Total 


ZBi 300 





Figures are rounded to the nearest 100 square 
kilometers, and percentage figures to one decimal 
place. National level statistics are provided in the 
regional accounts later in this book. In order to avoid 
the problems associated with using maps prepared 
at multiple scales, such calculations are made by 
first simplifying the global coverage dov^^n to a 1 
kilometer grid, each grid cell being simply marked as 
reef or non-reef. Reef area is then calculated as the 
total of 1 square kilometer cells with reef. Although 
this method exaggerates the total area from that 
actually shown on the maps, this can be justified on 
the grounds that the maps only show reef flat to reef 
crest areas, while the true reefs extend beyond these 
areas Isee also Chapter 31. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



the way to the sea surface. The long offshore reef tracts of 
Florida, Cuba and elsewhere rival many true barrier reefs 
in length, but are frequently not regarded as true barrier 
reefs because they are only separated from the mainland 
by a very shallow lagoon, or because they are not located 
on the edge of the continental shelf. Small physical 
structures, often lying within the wider formation of a 
barrier or atoll lagoon, are often referred to as patch reefs. 
Perhaps more importantly, there are significant areas 
around the world where there are coral communities 
which perform the same ecological function as coral reefs, 
but lack a clear physical structure. These include recent 
formations where there may be a thin veneer of live coral, 
or they may be physical reefs, but not yet mature or clearly 
visible. For clarity such structures are frequently referred to 
as coral communities, submerged reefs, or sub-surface reefs. 

Global distribution 

Charles Darwin was probably the first person to prepare 
a global map of coral reefs. His and other efforts are 
described in Chapter 3. Coral reefs are restricted to a 
broad swathe, roughly confined to the tropics, and circling 
most of the globe (Map I.I). Within this range they are 
far from evenly distributed, with large areas confmed to 
remote island regions and offshore areas far from major 
land masses. Further investigation shows that coral reefs 
are largely absent from the Central Atlantic and the shores 
of West Africa, they are highly restricted along the western 
(Pacific) shores of the Americas, and are also restricted 
along the coastline of South Asia from Pakistan to 
Bangladesh. 

Using the maps shown in this publication it is 
possible to estimate the total area of coral reefs in the 
world. Although there are clear limitations to such 
estimates, these figures are clearly valuable for getting an 



overall perspective on the area of coral reefs in the world, 
and in allowing for regional comparisons. There are an 
estimated 284 300 square kilometers of coral reefs 
worldwide'. This figure represents only 0.089 percent of 
the world's oceans and less than 1.2 percent of the world's 
continental shelf area. Thus, at the global scale, coral reefs 
are a rare habitat. Further analysis clearly shows that the 
great majority of coral reefs are found in the region known 
as the Indo-Pacific, which stretches from the Red Sea to 
the Central Pacific. Less than 8 percent of the world's 
reefs are found in the Caribbean and Atlantic. 

Zooming in to these maps, new patterns emerge at 
finer resolutions. Reefs are often limited in their develop- 
ment in the nearshore waters of large continental land 
masses, although barrier structures are widespread in such 
places. They are poorly developed close to large river 
mouths. In contrast, they are particularly well developed 
around islands and along the coastlines of drier con- 
tinental areas. 

In order to understand these patterns of reef 
distribution it is necessary to look at the organisms which 
make up the coral reef ecosystem. The factors impinging 
on their evolution, dispersion, and survival are the same 
factors which have created the patterns in coral reef 
distribution that we see today. 



1, The reef area figures used tfiroughout this work are based on a new 
calculation, and replace the early estimate provided by Spalding and Grenfell 
119971 of 255 000 square kilometers. It is likely, as mapping work continues, 
that such figures will continue to be refined and improved. This may lead to 
further upwards adjustment of the global total, although in some areas 
there is also likely to be some reduction of figures as maps are improved. 
Thus It seems unlikely that a final" figure would exceed 300 000 square 
kilometers. 



Map 1.1: The coral reefs of the world 




W:-^ ,."..-»?;;■% 






-^>^ 



r-l^i' 



30 

20 

. 10 

— 

10 
20 
30 



Distribution of scleractlnian corals 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Patterns of diversity 



Observations of life on coral reefs reveal a number 
of striking patterns in the distribution of species. 
At the global level, few species are ubiquitous. 
Some may be widespread across one or even two ocean 
basins, but many others are restricted to certain oceans or 
particular seas. 

As a larger picture is built up through looking at 
many species, certain patterns emerge. Some regions are 
highly distinctive with large numbers of endemic species, 
found nowhere else. The total diversity of species is also 
uneven, with centers of particularly high diversity, and 
with clear gradients in diversity mirroring environmental 
gradients. 

When looking at finer resolutions, new patterns 
emerge. Certain species appear to predominate in near 
continental reefs, while others are found on oceanic reefs. 
Closer still, and the position on the continental shelf, or 
that relative to the prevailing wind or currents, appears to 
hold sway in determining the species composition. At the 
scale of tens or hundreds of meters, patterns of zonation 
are observed across individual reefs, with species adapted 
to different depths, exposure, water circulation and so on. 
Finally, at the scale of individual points or quadrats, 
the pattern of which species are found where seems to 
disappear in a random noise. Even here, however, the 
factors driving the settlement and survival of individuals 
may be far from chaotic, but driven by highly complex 
interactions, both in the immediate sense and over the life 
history of the individual. 



Patterns at the global scale 

Corals are clearly the most important organisms when 
it comes to understanding the factors that drive the 
distribution of coral reefs. The majority of reef-building 
corals fall within the group known as Scleractinia. They 
have been the subject of continuing studies by biologists 
and taxonomists for many years, and a considerable 
amount is now known about their distribution and about 
the factors which influence it. Some 794 species of 
sclcractinian coral are considered to be reef builders, and 
Map 1.2 shows a plot of their distribution, highlighting 
the patterns of varying diversity. A number of points can 
be observed: 

■ Corals, like the reefs they build, are restricted to a 
narrow band of low latitudes, with diversity diminishing 
fairly rapidly along latitudinal clines. 

■ There are two distinctive regions of coral distribution, 
one centered around the Wider Caribbean (the Atlantic), 
the other reaching from East Africa and the Red Sea to the 
Central Pacific (the Indo-Pacific). 

■ Diversity is far lower in the Atlantic than in the Indo- 
Pacific. 

■ Coral diversity is at its highest around insular 
Southeast Asia. 

■ Coral diversity and reef development are very restricted 
along the western shores of the Americas and West Africa. 

Although only relating to corals, these patterns are 
reflected in most other groups found in tropical coastal 



Map 1.2: Patterns of diversity in reef-building scleractinian corals 




^^■S: 



*■ ""'^^^^^^^^^^^^^B Number of species 

<50 50 100 200 300 400 500 



-^- 









WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




waters, as shown by the statistics in Table 1.2. These and 
other patterns are derived from a complex interaction of 
historical and contemporary factors. For some groups, the 
parallel with coral diversity patterns may reflect direct 
ecological associations between them. However, for a 
number of others, it may be the same external factors 
which have actually driven the change. A number of these 
factors are briefly laid out below. 

The influence of temperature 

To a large extent, both scleractinian corals and the reefs 
they build are restricted to a latitudinal band between 
30°N and 30°S. This general observation is entirely related 
to the decreasing temperatures which generally follow 
increasing latitude. Most reef corals cannot survive in 
temperatures much below 16-18°C for even a few weeks. 
In conditions of extreme cold, corals can die within a 
matter of hours or days, while under slightly less extreme 
conditions, their growth rates are reduced. There is some 
evidence that overgrowth by algae rather than the direct 
influence of cold water may restrict coral development m 
some high latitude areas. 

High temperatures are also inimical to coral growth. 
Extreme high temperatures drive the phenomenon known 
as "coral bleaching", during which the corals expel their 
symbiotic algae (see Chapter 2). Aside from human- 



induced climate change, it has been suggested that 
occasional high temperatures associated with El Niiio 
events may be at least a partial explanation for the highly 
limited reef development which is observed, for example, 
along the western shores of the Americas. 

The role of currents 

While temperature influences can be broadly equated with 
latitude, ocean currents can disrupt these simple patterns. 
In a few areas of the world, major warm currents flow all 
year round from the tropics into higher latitudes. These 
have allowed the development of reefs quite beyond their 
normal limits. Notable are the Leeuwin Current in 
Western Australia; the East Australian Current; the 
Kuroshio Current in Japan; and the Gulf Stream warming 
the isolated oceanic reefs of Bermuda. In a similar way, 
cold waters prevent reef growth. Cold water upwellings 
along the coastlines of northeastern Somalia and southern 
Arabia are perhaps the clearest example, while the 
extremely limited development of reefs and coral com- 
munities along the western coastlines of the Americas 
and West Africa may also be influenced by cold water 
upwellings. 

Another role of currents is in the transport of larvae 
to areas of reef The establishment of corals in new areas 
is dependent on the transport of coral larvae in ocean 



Left, above: A smalt coral cay on the reef flat of an atoll, Salomon Atoll. Chagos Archipelago. Left, below. The Beqa 
Barrier Reef in Fiji. Right: Fringing reefs, near Suva, Fiji. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Table 1.2: Regional patte 
the clear pattern of max 


rns of species 
mum diversity 


diversity in 
in the Indo 


coral reefs 
Pacific reg 


and related ecosystems: 

on is shovim in all species groups 


Taxonomic group 


ndo-West Pacific 




Eastern Pacific 


Western Atlantic 


Eastern Atlantic 


Scleractinian corals' 


719 






34 


62 






Alcyonarian corals 


690+ 









6 






Sponges (general 


2U 








117 






Gastropods; 
















Cypraeidae 


178 






24 


6 




9 


Conus 


316 






30 


57 




22 


Bivalves 


2 000 






564 


378 




427 


Crustaceans: 
















Stomatopods 


249 






50 


77 




30 


Caridean shrimps 


91 






28 


41* 






Echinoderms 


1 200 






208 


148 






Fish 


iOOO 






650 


1400 




450 


Butterflytish and angelfish^ 


175 






8 


15 




7 


Seagrasses' 


3A 






7 


9 




2 


Mangroves' 


59 






13 


11 




7 


• All Atlantic 
















Source; Paulay 119971 except: 
l.Veron 120001. 

2. Allen el al 119991 

3. WCMC database - figures include species with warm temperate distribu 
^. Spalding et all 19971. 


ions. 









currents. Unfavorable currents may prevent the coloni- 
zation of areas by new species, notably in the remote reef 
regions of Brazil and the Eastern Pacific. The mechanisms, 
and the importance of this transport, are further con- 
sidered on page 23. 

Changing patterns over geological time scales 
Separate faunas - Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. Many of 
the global patterns in reef and coral development can be 
explained by looking at the tectonic and climatic history 
of reefs. Scleractinian corals evolved during the Triassic 
(205-250 million years ago) and quickly developed a 
circum-global distribution, only restricted by areas of 
suitably shallow substrate. As the continents broke up and 
shifted, the global connection of tropical oceans became 
more restricted. With the closure of the Tethys Sea, the 
waters of the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific were 
separated from those of the Atlantic and far Eastern 
Pacific, and the coral reef communities in each began to 
develop distinctive characteristics. 

Low diversity in the Atlantic. The closure of the 
isthmus of Panama divided the "western" fauna into 
two. This entire region was then subjected to massive 
extinctions during the Pliocene/Pleistocene glaciations, 
removing many of the species which were once commonly 
found on all coral reefs. The Atlantic corals now share 



only seven genera with the Indo-Pacific. Even as 
environmental conditions improved, continued eustatic 
disruption may have prevented subsequent re-expansion 
and diversification of the coral reef fauna, and there has 
been little time since the end of these glaciations for any 
further species radiation. The result today is clearly shown 
in the far lower species diversity in the Atlantic reefs. For 
scleractinian corals the Atlantic only holds about one tenth 
the number of species as the Indo-Pacific, while similar 
patterns hold for almost all other species groups, with 
between one third and one tenth of the diversity on 
Atlantic reefs as compared to Indo-Pacific reefs. 

High diversity in the Indo-Pacific. The same period 
of extinctions was not so extreme in the "eastern fauna", 
the area now known as the Indo-Pacific. Right across 
the region there are large areas of shallow coastal shelf 
spanning considerable latitudinal ranges. Over these areas 
there were more locations or refuges offering opportu- 
nities for survival of species during periods of environ- 
mental adversity. Species diversity remains high across 
much of this region, although there is a clearer decline in 
diversity moving east across the Central Pacific. 

The Southeast Asian center of diversity. Quite apart 
from the generally high diversity recorded across the Indo- 
Pacific, there is an area of outstanding diversity centered on 
a triangle encompassing the Philippines and central and 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




eastern Indonesia. Species numbers here outstrip any region 
of the world, and species counts from individual bays or 
islands typically outstrip total species counts from the 
entire Caribbean. Some of this great diversity may in fact 
be linked to the same period of glaciations which caused 
destruction elsewhere. This region is believed to have 
maintained somewhat benign conditions during this time, 
allowing the survival of many species. Additionally, during 
certain periods, species may only have survived in relict 
populations restricted to small refugia. Their isolation, 
exacerbated by changing sea levels, may have allowed the 
independent evolution of populations and the formation 
of new species. These would have repopulated the wider 
region as conditions ameliorated. Further species may have 
accumulated here from outside the region, driven by 
patterns of ocean currents flowing westwards from the 
islands of the Pacific Ocean. 

A number of other historical and contemporary 
factors are responsible for driving regional patterns in 
biodiversity, notably the low diversity observed in the 
Eastern Pacific. Brazilian and West African faunas, and 
the sustained high diversity in the Red Sea and low 
diversity in the Arabian Gulf These are considered more 
fully in the regional chapters. 



Patterns at finer scales 

Moving in to study reef distribution at finer resolutions, 
the discontinuous nature of coral reefs within countries or 
along particular coastlines is highly apparent. Corals, and 
the reefs they form, are highly sensitive to factors such 



as salinity, sediments and nutrients. Where conditions are 
inappropriate they do not occur More importantly in 
recent times, where conditions change, the corals, and the 
reefs themselves, may die. 

Sediments and sedimentation 

The initial growth of a coral is dependent on a larval animal 
finding the right substrate on which to settle. Corals cannot 
grow on fine muds or shifting sediments, and such 
sediments are a common feature along many of the world's 
coastlines. Where corals cannot settle and grow, reefs do 
not form. This is at least part of the e.xplanation for the 
absence of reefs close to large river mouths and along other 
stretches of sediment-laden coastlines. Another influence of 
sediments is that of turbidity - in areas with large amounts 
of suspended sediments in the water column, the loss of 
light further reduces or prevents coral growth. 

Once established, corals can cope with limited 
amounts of sediments settling upon them from the waters 
above, actively removing sediments which smother their 
tissues and block out the light. Similarly, once a reef is 
formed it is often able to maintain a presence in areas of 
otherwise shifting sediments. The reef structure lifts itself 
above the sediments, and provides the hard substrate on 
which new corals can grow. Reefs can also reduce the 
influence of currents and waves which, in some areas, 
are responsible for resuspending sediments that might 
otherwise smother corals. 

Where conditions of sediments and turbidity change 
considerably this can lead to the rapid demise of corals 
and the death of reefs. There is an energetic cost to a coral 
in removing sediments which settle upon it. while the loss 
of light associated with increasing turbidity greatly 
reduces a coral's chances of survival. 

Salinity 

Corals are wholly marine organisms, unable to grow in 
freshwater It is sometimes quite hard to distinguish the 
effects of freshwater from the influence of the sediments, 
typically also carried by streams and rivers. However, the 
absence of corals from wide areas associated with major 
rivers is at least in part related to the low salinities in 
these areas. 

Nutrients 

The considerable biomass and wealth of diversity observed 
on coral reefs around the world has led to a common 
misconception among non-specialists that reefs may be 
dependent on considerable inputs of nutrients. In fact reefs 
are highly efficient at nutrient recycling, and are wide- 
spread in some of the most nutrient-poor parts of the 
oceans. Where nutrient levels are higher, often close to 
coastlines or areas of upwelling. reefs still survive, but in 
very high nutrient situations other opportunistic species 



Damsetfish and butterflyfish around a blue coral Heliopora coerulea. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



23 



Movements between reefs 



One critical issue when it comes to understanding 
the establishment of patterns in species distribution 
is the movement of individuals betvi/een localities. 
Reefs in general are ecological islands, typically 
surrounded by non-reef areas and often separated 
from one another by tens or hundreds of kilometers. 
Many reef organisms are sessile, and do not move at 
all. Even for the most mobile groups, movements of 
adult animals between reefs would be so hazardous 
as to be almost impossible, and such journeys are 
rarely undertaken. From the largest to the smallest, 
almost all coral reef species have a larval life history 
which survives for some time in the plankton. It is 
these tiny animals which move, or are swept, from 
place to place within a reef, and from reef to reef 

Typically, corals and other reef species produce 
vast numbers of eggs - many coral reef fish pro- 
duce between 10 000 and a million eggs. These may 
be fertilized internally or in the waters above the 
reef. Either way, larvae are formed and enter the 
plankton where they may remain for weeks or even 
months - larval survival in the plankton has been 
recorded to over 120 days in some reef fish. 

Whilst in the plankton, eggs and larvae may be 
carried distances ranging from meters to hundreds 
of kilometers. Many larvae have quite considerable 
swimming ability, but sea surface currents, more 
than any other factor, determine the long-distance 
transport of most organisms. Studies on reef fish 
distribution have shown that the species with the 
shortest larval phases tend to be geographically 
restricted while those with long larval phases are 
often geographically widespread. The great majority 
do not survive, or may be carried to areas where 
they are unable to settle, but it is this same move- 
ment which allows genetic flow between widely 
separated reefs. It also enables the establishment 
of new species and new reef communities in areas 
where they may not currently occur, or the recovery 
of populations which have been lost for any reason. 
A number of reef communities surviving at the edge 
of their natural ranges, such as those on the lati- 
tudinal limits of reef development in Western 
Australia, or those periodically impacted by extreme 
El Nino conditions in the Eastern Pacific, may be 
entirely dependent on larval recruitment from other, 
distant, reefs. This also has important implications 
for management, particularly for the recovery of 



reefs that are destroyed by pollution or blast fishing, 
or when overfishing removes all adult fish from 
an area. 

There is still a great deal that remains un- 
known about this critical dispersive phase of reef 
organisms. The mass spawning event of reef corals 
on the Great Barrier Reef was first discovered only 
in the early 1980s - here it was observed that the 
great majority of corals released their eggs and 
sperm during a few nights associated with a 
particular full moon. Such synchronous spawning 
events flood the nearby waters, reducing the ability 
of predators to consume all the eggs and larvae and 
so increasing the chances of individual survival. 
Such mass spawning events are being discovered 
in other areas too, and in other groups. Certain 
reef fish, such as the larger groupers, have been 
observed to travel many kilometers to congregate at 
spawning grounds. 

At the same time as these mass spawning 
events are being discovered, recent genetic studies 
have shown that patterns of connections between 
reefs are not a simple reflection of surface currents, 
but may also reflect other factors, both contem- 
porary and historic. Some work suggests that 
species may not always travel vast distances or be 
as "interconnected" as previously thought. Certain 
"species" are now being broken down into geo- 
graphically distinct sibling species groups which 
are sufficiently different from one another in gene- 
tic terms to suggest that there may be no gene flow 
between them, and that they may at the present 
time be ecologically isolated. 




An Acropora corai releasing clouds of egg and sperm 
bundles, Western Australia Iphoto: Bette Willis). 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




m^c^^^S^^MB^ , 



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may out-compete them. These typically include algae 
and sponges which may compete for space and light and 
overgrow corals. It can also include algae living within the 
plankton which can literally block out the light and increase 
the turbidity to levels which the corals cannot survive. 



Patterns across the reef 

Where conditions allow, coral reefs form and continue 
to thrive, marking out a colorftil barrier along many 
coastlines and far out across the Pacific and Indian 
Oceans. As individual coral reefs are examined more 
closely, new and distinctive patterns emerge, formed by 
the species which make up the reef community. 

Moving across a reef from the beach to the open sea. 
environmental conditions vary considerably. Close to the 
shore there may be freshwater runoff, loose sediments of 
sand or mud, and regular exposure to the air and sunlight 
with the shifting tides. Further out conditions are shallow 
and bright, but there may be little circulation of the water. 
At the outer edge of the shallow reef, the waters change 
dramatically. Waves may break on the reef top. Lower 
down, the light diminishes rapidly with depth. Light and 
depth, tides, water circulation, wave action, sediments, 
nutrients, temperature variation and salinity all have a part 
to play in determining which species are found where on a 
reef, and clear zones have been recognized. A number of 
these are illustrated in Figure 1.3. 

Beach and intertidal communities 

Although considered beautiful by millions of tourists, 
beaches and other intertidal areas are among the harshest 
communities for many species. Daily exposure to drying 
air and hot bright sunshine is inimical to most marine 
species, while regular or occasional soaking by saltwater 
is equally difficult for most terrestrial species. Beaches 
themselves are places of constantly shifting sediments, 
offering no solid substrate on which to establish, and only 
tiny interstices between the sediment particles for refuge. 
The coastline is also the point at which terrestrial inputs 
are at their most concentrated, with runoff, pollutants and 
sediments greatly influencing life in some areas. Life on 
sandy beaches is not abundant. There are many micro- 
scopic life forms within the sand, and a range of species, 
notably crabs, patrol the shores for food. In rocky areas a 
greater diversity of life occurs, notably molluscs, algae and 
bryozoans, and a complex pattern of communities may be 
found associated with tide pools and their position relative 
to the tidal range. Mangroves are a group of highly adap- 
ted plants which thrive in intertidal waters. Ahhough 
frequently associated with reefs they are somewhat res- 
tricted in where they can grow, and only build extensive 
communities in areas where there are fine silts and muds, 
particularly where there is some freshwater input. 



Above: Mangroves are important intertidal communities in many reef areas. Center: The reef crest, ttie shallowest part 
of the reef, northern Red Sea. Below: Coral diversity is highest on the reef slope, typically reaching a peak below the areas 
of highest exposure to waves, but still in shallow areas where loss of light is not a limiting factor. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Figure 1.3: Basic patterns of reef zonation on a barrier reef 




Lagoons 

On barrier reefs the shoreline drops relatively rapidly 
towards depths of a few meters, sometimes a few tens of 
meters, before rising again to the shallow waters of the 
main reef structure. This area of deeper water is known as 
the lagoon. It is paralleled by a similar area at the center 
of most atolls. Although true fringing reefs do not have 
such deep water, in fact the division between fringing 
reefs and barrier reefs is sometimes hazy, and there may 
be shallow lagoons even on fringing reefs. Conditions in 
lagoons vary considerably. In some cases the lagoon is 
enclosed, and the flow of water is restricted by the high 
rim of the atoll, or by the shallow waters of the barrier 
reef The degree of enclosure greatly influences con- 
ditions within the lagoon. Relatively shallow, enclosed 
lagoons may be areas of considerable temperature 
extremes as the waters cool at night or become rapidly 
heated during the day. They may also be areas where 
nutrients and sediments build up. At the same time, the 
bright, calm waters of the lagoon can provide ideal 
conditions for many species. 

Seagrass communities are a common feature of many 
reef lagoons, but bare sandy sediments are perhaps even 
more widespread. Corals also thrive in many lagoon areas. 
In a few cases they are widespread across the lagoon floor, 
but more commonly they build up large structures, often 
known as bommies or patch reefs, which may be a few 
meters to many tens of meters across. Active coral growth 
can lead to the development of even more complex 
structures, such as the faros of the Maldives which have a 



circular structure very similar to a tiny atoll, but growing 
within the lagoon of a true atoll. 

Back reef 

At their seaward edge, most lagoons rise up quite sharply 
towards the shallow waters of the reef flat (see below). If 
there is good water circulation in the lagoon itself this area 
can be ideal for coral growth, with bright conditions, 
undisturbed by wave action. This area is known as the 
back reef, and may consist of a simple slope with a surface 
cover of corals, or may be an area of intricate gardens of 
coral rising and falling, interspersed with sandy patches. 

Reef flat 

In a mature reef, the active, upward growth of corals 
and coralline algae is eventually inhibited by the water 
surface. Upward growth can no longer occur, although 
there may be some consolidation and infilling of the 
reef rock. Outward growth of the reef into deeper water 
continues, and gradually a wide shallow platform is 
produced, the reef flat. In fringing reefs the reef flat 
extends outwards directly from the shore, but atolls and 
barrier reefs are also topped with reef flats. Small sandy 
islands or cays may form on the reef flat from the accumu- 
lation of sand and coral rubble during storms. Typically, 
reef flats range between a few tens of centimeters and I 
or 2 meters in depth, but they may reach many hundreds 
of meters wide. Physical conditions in the reef flat are 
quite harsh. Water temperature may fluctuate considerably 
through a 24 hour period, and some parts may be exposed 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



to the air at low tides. Water circulation is also quite 
limited and oxygen levels are often rapidly depleted. 

The base of this zone is usually coral rock, but it is 
often covered by a mix of sand and rubble patches, over 
which there may be algae or seagrass. Corals continue to 
grow in deeper depressions, and small coral communities 
develop in larger areas of deep water (such areas are 
sometimes known as moats). A considerable number of 
small invertebrates live permanently on the reef flat. 
Large numbers of organisms feed on the reef flat at high 
tide, while foraging birds visit during the lowest tides. 

Reef crest 

The edge of the reef flat facing the ocean is an area of high 
energy, with almost constant wave action, and occasional 
exposure to the air. There is a rapid and constant cir- 
culation of the water, and water temperatures are generally 
more constant than those of the reef flat. Conditions for 
coral growth are not ideal, but a few species, dominated 
by branching forms, have adapted to them. On some 
reefs coralline algae are even better adapted and may 
predominate. Their combined growth builds up to make 
this the shallowest zone of the reef, often drying out at 
low tides. In more exposed reefs deep surge channels may 
be gouged into this reef crest and serve to dissipate the 
wave energy. 

Reef front or reef slope 

Beyond the reef crest is the zone with the greatest 
diversity and abundance of life. Typically this reef front 
or reef slope falls quite steeply towards the seabed. In 
this zone conditions change quite rapidly with depth and 




exposure. The shallowest waters, particularly on exposed 
reefs, may still be subject to considerable wave action and 
the growth of corals may be restricted. In such places 
branching corals predominate, and in the most exposed 
areas their growth forms are typically low and compact. 
Wave action often leads to the development of deep 
channels and high ridges known as spur and groove 
formations. 

Below the influence of wave action diversity is 
unparalleled. Reefs are rarely dominated by single 
species, and both the corals and most other species groups 
form highly complex mixed communities. As depths 
increase, light is rapidly filtered out by the overlying 
water Certain species can only grow in bright waters, and 
so are limited to depths of only 10 or 20 meters. A smaller 
number of species have adapted to darker conditions and 
may begin to dommate. The depth limits to coral growth 
arc variable, as the water clarity determines the degree of 
light penetration. Reefs on more turbid continental 
margins typically have no active coral growth below about 
50 meters and active reef accumulation may stop at 20 
meters or less. In the clear waters of oceanic atolls 
extensive coral growth has been observed as deep as 100 
meters, although this is probably unusual. 

There is clearly enormous variation across the world 
of coral reefs, but these broad zones are widespread. Even 
among the less developed reefs, the natural propensity 
towards these patterns of zonation is often visible. 

It is also important to remember that most of the reefs 
visible today are in fact ancient structures and much of 
their present-day shape has been developed over millennia, 
under quite varied conditions. In some cases there are 
vestigial structures marking former sea levels. Terraces are 
often observed on reef slopes, mdicating patterns of growth 
towards an earlier low sea level, while entire submerged 
reefs may show many of the structures described above, 
but with reef flats and lagoons now at considerable depths 
below the present sea surface. Similarly, raised reefs are 
quite common, with atolls or platform reefs raised up to 
form modern islands, and the subsequent development of 
fringing reefs around their margins. 

Patterns of diversity on a coral reef are the subject of 
a great range of influences, from the patterns produced by 
history, including the massive perturbations of recent ice 
ages to the present day patterns of temperature, sediments 
and nutrients. On particular reefs new patterns emerge, the 
result of a great complexity of local influences, including 
light, exposure and water circulation. The final section 
of this chapter examines some of the great wealth of 
diversity which makes up life on the reef. It provides an 
overview of all of the major groups which are so critical, 
not only to the development and functioning of the reef, 
but also to the great value of coral reefs as a natural 
resource for humanity. 



A Juvenile lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris crosses a Caribbean lagoon at higli tide. Lagoon areas are often 
dominated by wide expanses of bare sand. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



27 



Quantifying diversity 




Coral reef diversity is directly comparable to that 
of the most diverse terrestrial habitats, the low- 
land tropical rainforests. At levels of higher taxa 
(the more generalized "groups" of species), reefs greatly 
outstrip these other mega-diversity ecosystems. Densities 
of species per unit-area are also staggering. Species are 
often regarded as the building blocks of biodiversity, and, 
although reefs occupy only a small area of the planet, 
there are probably more species per unit-area of coral 
reefs than in any other ecosystem. There are an estimated 
4 000 coral reef fish species worldwide, almost a quarter 
of all marine fish species. Nearly 1 500 fish species have 
been recorded at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and 
up to 200 species have been recorded from single samples 
on individual dives. 

Fish represent the dominant vertebrates on coral 
reefs, perhaps comparable with the birds of a rainforest, 
but their numbers pale into insignificance when compared 
with total species composition of reefs. A 5 square meter 
reef microcosm sampled in the Caribbean yielded 534 
species from 27 phyla, with a further 30 percent of species 
not fully identified. One sample of "boring cryptofauna" 
(animals which burrow holes and live within the coral 
rock) from a single dead coral colony yielded 8 265 



individuals from some 220 species. We are only just 
beginning to comprehend the scale and depth of this 
diversity. Further parallels with tropical rainforests and 
other high diversity ecosystems abound. 

With this wealth of species a great diversity of 
interactions has evolved between species. No organism 
lives in isolation, but on reefs the ecological processes 
which so oflen drive evolution have pushed the coexistence 
of species to extremes. Through pressures such as preda- 
tion and competition, many species have become highly 
specialized to live in tight niches, with highly specific diets, 
cryptic habits, or highly evolved defense mechanisms. 
Others have become masters of stealth and capture or 
camouflage and escape. Co-evolution has also led to 
complex two-way interactions between species, including 
mutualistic partnerships where both organisms benefit. 
The relationship between corals and their algal partners is 
perhaps the most important example of such a partnership, 
having led to the proliferation and success of the reef- 
building corals. 

Like forests, coral reefs also show a considerable 
structural diversity, .'\cross the reef zones described above, 
but particularly in the areas of most active coral growth, a 
coral reef represents a highly complex three dimensional 



A dense school of blue-lined snapper Lulianus kasmira, Seychelles. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



environment. Wave action creates deep grooves in the 
shallow reef front, while the corals themselves, with their 
complexity of forms, create a highly convoluted surface. 
Even the limestone at the base of the living reef surface 
is a complex mass of holes formed by the older patterns 
of coral growth, together with processes of erosion. This 
not only provides a large area for the settlement of other 
reef organisms, but also a complex background for the 
drama of life on the reef, providing passages and holes 
at all scales for the movement of animals, and for their 
concealment, shelter, ambush and escape. 

One final comparison with rainforests is that the 
diversity of life in both ecosystems remains remarkably 
poorly known. It has been estimated that less than 10 
percent of the organisms found on reefs have been 
described by scientists. But not all experts agree on 
species identification and definition and there is no 
central record even of the species which have been 
described. It is thus impossible, at present, to estimate 
accurately the total numbers of species occurring on coral 



reefs. Using a number of broad assumptions, one recent 
attempt has suggested that there may be some 93 000 
described coral reef species. The global total, including 
the vast number of undescribed species, could thus be 
closer to 1 million. Others have estimated that there 
may be over 3 million reef species. Perhaps the greatest 
problem hindering a more detailed assessment of coral 
reef biodiversity is the lack of basic taxonomic research 
and inventory, combined with the lack of sufficiently 
qualified taxonomists to undertake the work. Defining 
and describing species is a complex task, and detailed 
observation and description of external morphological 
characteristics of animals and plants have traditionally 
been key tools. A number of recent studies, however, have 
suggested that many of these morphologically similar 
"species" may in fact be species complexes, groups of 
sibling species, each highly distinct in genetic terms. 
If such examples prove to be commonplace, the final 
analysis of species diversity may lead to massive increases 
in the total species numbers. 



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Left: Expansive beds of branching Acropora witfi damsetfish above, at the Great Barrier Reef. Right: A barrel sponge, 
encrusting red algae and corals in the Philippines. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



29 



Organisms of the coral reef 




In order to better understand the ecology of the coral 
reef environment it is iinportant to have an overview of 
the main species groups which occur there. This final 
section of the present chapter provides a background to 
some of the main groups of organisms on coral reefs, 
focussing on the larger or more conspicuous life forms. A 
number of major groups are taken in turn, each being 
briefly described, with their role in the reef ecosystem 
receiving particular attention. Although the major head- 
ings refer to broad taxonomic groupings (such as phyla), 
a strict taxonomic hierarchy has not been followed. 
Particular groups have rather been selected based on their 
importance in the reef environment. For more detailed 
taxonomic information readers are referred to the sources 
at the end of this chapter 



Algae and higher plants 

As with other ecosystems, sunlight provides the primary 
energy source for life on the coral reef, and photosyn- 
thetic organisms capture this light and convert it to the 
organic molecules which are the building blocks of life. 
Higher plants (the more complex life forms, which domi- 
nate on land) have an insignificant role to play in most 



reefs. In contrast, algae are present throughout the reef 
and are critical, not only as the basis of the complex 
trophic pathways, but also as a structural component in 
the building of the reefs themselves. Despite this, algae 
are not highly conspicuous on the reef, either when com- 
pared to terrestrial ecosystems, or even to the marine eco- 
systems of temperate waters. Four main groups of algae 
are recognized. 

Blue-green algae (Cyanophyta or cyanobacteria) 

These are the simplest forms, being prokaryotic (with a 
simple cell structure and lacking a central nucleus) and 
related to bacteria. They can be unicellular or filamentous 
(with cells arranged in long chains) and are widespread 
throughout the reef, although their role and importance 
remain little known. 

Red algae (Rhodophyta) 

These include a great variety of forms and species, 
ranging from unicellular to filamentous to complex forms. 
A number of species secrete calcareous skeletons and are 
referred to as coralline algae. The encrusting coralline 
algae, such as Porolithon, are among the most important 
plants on the reef, playing a critical role in binding 



A shallow scene with branching Acropora corals and various damselfish, Seychelles. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




sediments, particularly in the shallowest waters. In some 
places, including many reefs in the western Indo-Pacific. 
these are the dominant benthic organisms in the shallower 
parts of coral reefs and may play a more important role in 
reef building than the corals themselves. 

Brown algae (Phyaeophyta) 

These are more familiar in temperate rocky shore areas, 
where they often form the major plant communities. There 
are no unicellular species and many form quite complex 
"plants". Although not dominant on reefs, a number of 
species are widespread, including Lobophora, Padina. 
and Sargassum in the Indo-Pacific and Dictyola in the 
Caribbean. 

Green algae (Chlorophyta) 

This is a large and diverse group, including unicellular 
and complex forms. As with the red algae, some produce 
secondary calcification. Among these, Halimeda is wide- 
spread and the calcified remains of its disc-shaped 
segments are often a major component of reef sand. 
Caulerpa is another common genus in both Caribbean and 
Indo-Pacific reefs, formmg complex and mtricate plant 
structures. There are some 75 species, the majority of 
which are found in coral reef areas. 

In addition to these main groups, there are several other 
algal groups, such as the diatoms (Bacillariophyta) which, 
although not important components of the benthos, form 
a dominant part of the marine phytoplankton. Another 
group, the dinoflagellates (Dinophyceae) are sometimes 
considered alongside the algae, but here are considered 
separately, below. 

Higher plants 

Two groups of higher plant are often discussed in 
association with coral reefs, although in reality they 
form distinctive habitat types which may, or may not. 



be found in close proximity to reefs. In contrast to coral 
reefs, the habitats associated with these species have low 
species diversity. 

Seagrasses 
Seagrasses are actually a polyphyletic group of marine 
angiosperms (flowering plants) which are broadly dis- 
tributed from the tropics to the Arctic, although there is a 
peak in their diversity in the tropics. All species belong 
to the monocotyledon families Potomogetonaceae and 
Hydrocharitaceae. Only one genus. Thatassodendron, is 
able to grow on rocky substrates and is found in very 
close association with corals, although many species are 
frequently associated with the soft sediments of reef flat 
and lagoon areas. 

Mangroves 

Mangroves are a similarly varied group, and are typically 
defined as trees or shrubs which normally grow in, or 
adjacent to, the intertidal zone and which have developed 
special adaptations in order to survive in this environment. 
Interpretations of this definition vary, and hence there 
IS no fully agreed list of what does and does not consti- 
tute a mangrove. The association between mangroves 
and coral reefs is somewhat opportunistic: although 
they are sometimes observed growing on coral rock, 
mangroves usually require soft sediments and sheltered 
environments. In many areas the calm waters behind 
fringing and barrier reef systems provide such areas. The 
ability of mangrove communities to bind silts and muds 
may reduce levels of siltation in offshore areas and enable 
reefs to flourish. There is also a considerable movement of 
fish species between the two habitats, but again this would 
appear to be opportunistic rather than essential. Globally 
the distribution of mangroves and reefs is quite distinct. 
While both are largely restricted to the tropics and near- 
tropics (with the exception of mangroves in southern 
Australia and New Zealand], mangroves flourish in many 



Left: Encrusting red algae can be a major structural component of tfie reef crest. Right: Seagrasses are a common 
component of deeper reef flat and lagoon areas. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



areas where reefs are absent, notably the coasts of West 
Africa and the Bay of Bengal. Unlike reefs, they are 
absent over most of the Central and Western Pacific and 
are very sparsely distributed in the arid regions of the 
northern Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, and on many 
oceanic atolls. 



Dinoflagellates (Dinoflagellata) 

This is a common group of microscopic organisms 
generally found in the plankton. Most are heterotrophic, 
but a few photosynthesize. They are characterized by the 
possession of two flagella, and are sometimes considered 
to be algae (Dinophyceae), but more commonly grouped 
with the Protozoa. The dinoflagellates are particularly 
important in the coral reef ecosystem, as it is this group 
which contains the zoo.xanthellae. 

Zooxanthellae are capable of living freely in the 
plankton, although they are regularly associated with a 
broad range of coral reef organisms, living as endo- 
symbionts within the tissues of these organisms. As 
photosynthetic organisms, they are able to supply a 
considerable amount of the nutrition required by their 
hosts, but also benefit both from the waste products of 
their hosts and from the shelter provided by their tissues. 
The vast majority of reef-building corals are dependent 
on these organisms. It was long considered that the zoo- 
xanthellae inhabiting corals were from only one or two 
species, but this view is now strongly challenged and 
the full diversity of this group is in need of further 
investigation. 

Another important dinoflagellate, at least from a 
human perspective, is Gambierdiscus loxicus, which 
grows on benthic algae and dead coral rock. This species 
produces a toxin known as ciguatera which is not broken 
down by the organisms which unwittingly ingest it. This 
toxin can build up through the food chain reaching 
concentrations, in some larger predatory fish, that are 



highly toxic to humans who eat them. Outbreaks of 
ciguatera have, in some cases, been linked to extensive 
coral reef disturbance, the dead and bare surfaces perhaps 
providing a greater surface area for this species to inhabit. 



Sponges 



Sponges are among the most primitive multicellular 
organisms (with ancestral-like organisms detected from 
pre-Cambrian deposits some 650-700 million years old), 
and yet they have a high diversity and are widespread 
across the globe. Although they do not form true bodies 
with differentiated organs, most sponges grow into well 
structured forms, with a network of internal canals 
through which sea water is passed, aided by the movement 
of flagella and microvillae. Water is drawn into the sponge 
through specialized cells, and wastewater is then flushed 
through exhalent pores, which are usually clearly marked 
on the surface of the sponge. The majority of sponges are 
filter feeders and are able to process considerable volumes 
of water every day, filtering out nutrients. Other sponges, 
including many which live in the nutrient-poor waters 
of the reef rely on associations with blue-green algae 
(cyanobacteria) or zooxanthellae and are effectively 
autotrophic. A number of sponges are capable of chemi- 
cally dissolving (etching) into corals in a process which 
is a major part of bioerosion on coral reefs. Sponges have 
a great variety of physical structures, and indeed many 
show considerable plasticity in their growth forms. Within 
their cellular matrix, certain specialized cells lay down 
skeletal tissues. Skeletons are formed from numerous 
smaller elements called spicules made from silica or 
calcite, while in others they are formed from spicules or 
longer fibres made from collagen. With these strength- 
ening skeletons sponges produce large structures, which 
may be encrusting, lattice-, ball-, vase-, or barrel-shaped, 
or longer rope-like or branching forms. 

Unlike many other groups it would appear that the 




Left: Bright clumps of the green alga Chlorodesmis. Right: A conspicuous tubular grey sponge, Indonesia. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



sponge faunas of the Caribbean are at least equal to those 
of the Indo-Pacific in terms of diversity (per unit-area), 
while sponge biomass is considerably greater on many 
Caribbean reefs. One further difference is that Caribbean 
sponges are more strongly heterotrophic, which could 
reflect the higher amounts of nutrients available on these 
reefs. In the Indo-Pacific autotrophic sponges are rather 
more common. 

Despite having high diversity, much of which remains 
undescribed, sponges are often not highly visible or domi- 
nant in the reef benthos. In the tropical island regions 
of Oceania some 1 000 species have currently been 
described. For many countries the known species may 
number no more than 30-40. However, an estimated 500 
species have been recorded at Chuuk Atoll (Federated 
States of Micronesia, in the Pacific) alone. Alongside 
this genetic diversity, many sponges produce complex 
chemical compounds, often as a form of defense against 
predators. The investigation of these chemicals for phar- 
maceutical products is proving increasingly interesting. 

Cnidarians 

This is a large group of relatively simple organisms. 
They are characterized by a basic body structure, with 
two primary cell layers, an epidermis and an endodermis, 
separated in most species by a simple, supportive, jelly- 
like matrix, the mesoglea. A rudimentary nervous system 
has developed in this group, with a nerve net but no cen- 
tralized nervous system. Carnivory is common, although 
some species have developed close associations with 
endosymbiont algae (see above). One feature of this group 
is possession of specially adapted cells known as 
cnidocytes, which incorporate a highly complex capsule 
or "nematocyst" which, when triggered, is inverted to 
release a long, whip-like thread with a barbed or pointed 
tip and often releasing highly potent toxins. These may 
be used to capture prey or for defense. There are two 
basic body forms: the medusa is disc shaped, solitary and 
pelagic, while the polyp is typically sessile, and consists 
of an upright body with a fringe of tentacles encircling 
a single opening which acts as both mouth and anus. 
Colonial living has arisen in a number of members of this 
group. There are four classes. 

The Hydrozoa are a fairly mixed group, and include 
some complex colonial planktonic members such as the 
Portuguese man-o'-war Physalia spp. There are also a 
number of sessile groups which are common on reefs 
worldwide, including colonial hydroids, but also a number 
of species which lay down a calcareous skeleton. These 
include the members of the orders Milleporina and 
Stylasterina. The former are the fire corals, Millepora 
spp. which are widespread in all coral areas and can 
form an important part of the substrate on the reef crest 




and reef slope. Growth forms are typically branching 
or encrusting. The stylasterinids are also known as lace 
corals and typically form fairly small and fragile 
branching colonies in darker areas and overhangs. In both 
milleporids and stylasterinids there is some specialization 
of polyps, with numbers of specialized stinging polyps 
surrounding a single feeding polyp. 

The Scyphozoa, or jellyfish, is a large group, though 
not dominant on reefs. One genus, the upside-down 
jellyfish Cassiopea is often found resting in reef flat 
areas. Like many corals these have algal endosymbionts 
living within their body tissues. Another class, the 
Cubozoa, are like the jellyfish, but with a clearly four- 
sided body wall and tentacles concentrated at the corners. 
Also known as box jellyfish or sea wasps, these include 
some highly toxic species, including the box jellyfish 
Chironex fleckeri in the waters off Australia and the sea 
wasp Cary-bdea alata from Caribbean waters. 

The most important class on the coral reefs of the 
world is the anthozoans. and these are considered 
separately below. 

Anthozoans 

These are a very large group of cnidarians which lack 
any medusoid form and have polyps with a central 
gastrovascular cavity divided into partitions by septae. 
They are divided into two main groups, the Octocorallia 
(or Alcyonaria) which have eight tentacles and body 
partitions and are all colonial, and the Zoantharia (or 



A sea whip Junceella. Unlike stony corals, sea whips have flexible skeletons made predominantly of protein. 



The World of Coral Reefs 





Hexacorallia) which have six tentacles and body 
partitions, or multiples thereof. 

Octocorals are predominantly a tropical group of 
photic (sunlit) waters, although some species are found in 
cooler and deeper waters. Many of the reef species contam 
symbiotic zooxanthellae within their tissues. Perhaps the 
best known are the gorgonians (Gorgonacea), which are 
widespread on coral reefs globally. These include the sea 
whips and sea fans that are often dominant in deeper 
parts of reefs. Their colonies are strengthened by a central 
scleroprotein skeleton. Another spectacular group on coral 
reefs are the soft corals (Alcyonacea), which are common 
on many Indo-Pacific reefs, but less significant in the 
Caribbean. These do not have a clear skeletal structure, 
and body structure is maintained through hydrostatic 
pressure. Most species secrete spicules of calcium 
carbonate. Well known and widespread genera include 
the high, branching colonies of Dendronephthya and the 
spreading, lobed or branching forms of Lobophyton, 
Sarcophyton and Sinularia. 

A number of smaller groups are also regularly found on 
coral reefs. The organ-pipe corals (Stolonifera) lay down 
parallel calcareous tubes connected with cross-plates to 
form massive hemispherical domes, and have a distinctive 
red skeleton. The blue corals (Helioporacea) are a true 
contributor to reef development, laying down strong 
calcareous skeletons, and forming large branching colonies 
in shallow areas. Both of these latter groups are restricted 
to the Indo-Pacific. Two other groups, the telestaceans 



(Telestacea) and sea pens (Pennatulacea), are more wide- 
spread but not of major importance on most reefs. 

Zoantharians are a diverse group of solitary and 
colonial species. Many live in close association with 
symbiotic zooxanthellae. The most important of the zoan- 
tharians are the Scleractinia, which include the majority of 
reef-building corals and are treated separately below. The 
remainder of this group can best be described at the level 
of the orders within the group. 

The Actinaria are the familiar sea anemones, which 
are simple non-colonial zoantharians, some of which can 
reach considerable sizes. Although primarily carnivores 
a number of reef species have developed a dependence 
on symbiotic zooxanthellae, while many have also deve- 
loped tight symbiotic relationships with anemonefish 
(Pomacentridae). The Actinaria are a diverse group, with 
over 1 000 species worldwide, although they are not 
especially diverse on coral reefs. 

Three other smaller orders are also commonly found 
on reefs, but remain poorly known. The Ceriantharia or 
tube anemones are another non-colonial group of about 
50 species worldwide, which construct a lube buried into 
soft substrates. The Coralliomorpharia are the disc or 
coral anemones, with an internal body morphology quite 
similar to that of corals. The Zoanthidea are a fairly 
important group within the tropics, and may be abundant 
in shallow areas such as reef flats and shallow lagoon 
floors. They are solitary or colonial anemone-like 
actinarians, which do not secrete a skeleton, but often 



Left: The highly colorful soft corals of the genus Dendronephthya are common in the Indo-Pacific. Right: The central 
"mouth" of a giant sea anemone Heteractis. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




i 






■■ ■ ^\' 




J' '*^ 



r-"'<»l 







incorporate sediments into their mesoglea for support 
or protection. 

The Antipatharia are commonly Icnown as the black 
corals. They are all colonial, and secrete a horny protein- 
aceous skeleton. Although well known and economically 
important, they are not a major component of most reef 
communities and are not common in depths of less than 
20 meters, with the majority of species being found below 
100 meters. 



Scleractinia 

The Scleractinia, or stony corals, are a very large order 
within the zoantharians, all of which secrete a calcium 
carbonate skeleton. Although widespread throughout the 
world they reach their greatest extent and abundance in 
shallow tropical waters where the majority of species are 
colonial and lay down large skeletal structures, the basic 
building blocks of reefs. Some 794 species of hermatypic 
Scleractinia have now been described and the great center 
of scleractinian diversity lies in insular Southeast Asia, the 
center of the Indo-Pacific region. 

The Scleractinia have an ancient lineage, and leave a 
good fossil record which can be traced back to at least 
the mid-Triassic over 200 million years ago. There is no 
clear evidence that they evolved from a single ancestor, 
however, and many of the features of this group may in 
fact have arisen independently. 

The skeleton of the individual coral polyp is called a 
corallite, with a base-plate from which a number of divi- 
sions known as septa rise up. radiating in towards the 
center The outer edge of the polyp is often defined by a 
wall forming a tube-like structure enclosing the septae. 
New polyps are formed in colonial species by budding from 
existing polyps, or by growth upwards from the connecting 
tissues between existing polyps. Gradually new skeletal 
material is laid down over existing material. The skeletal 
structure of individual polyps forms the basis for species 
identification, and in many cases full identification can 
only be completed with dried skeletal material. 

The larger structures built by colonies can become 
highly complex, with massive corals producing domes or 
towers, encrusting corals, and a vast range of branching 
(ramose), columnar, foliacious (sheet or leaf-like) and 
tabular (plate-like) structures. Many ecological studies 
utilize this coral morphology as a means of describing a 
reef The dominance of different growth forms is often 
indicative of environmental conditions such as wave 
exposure and varies across the reef profile. It also pro- 
vides a partial measure of structural complexity. While 
morphology can appear highly distinctive, it can also be 
highly varied within a species, influenced by these same 
external environmental parameters, and hence it is often 
of limited value in species identification. 



Above: The elkhorn coral Acropora palmata, once a dominant coral on many Caribbean reefs, has been decimated by 
disease in most areas. Center: The laminar or foliaceous coral Echinopora lamellosa. Below: The complex surface of a 
brain coral Platygyra. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



35 



Most species are involved in a tight symbiosis with 
zooxanthellae and derive the majority of their nutrients 
from these algae. They are all equipped with tentacles 
and capable of feeding independently to some degree, 
typically on plankton or minute organic particles. 
However, the dependence on their algal partners is 
considerable, and many species can be considered 
virtually autotrophic. 

Aside from asexual reproduction during colony 
growth, corals undergo sexual reproduction. Some species 
are hermaphroditic, while others have separate sexes. The 
majority of species release eggs and sperm during a 
spawning event - such events can be tightly harmonized 
within and between species leading to spectacular mass 
spawning events. In a few species the fertilized egg is kept 
within the polyp and free-swimming larvae or planulae are 
released some days or weeks later Both eggs and planulae 
spend some days or weeks living in the plankton prior to 
settling and this is critical to the genetic flow between 
reefs and the establishment of corals in new areas. 

Scleractinian corals are one of the few groups on 
reefs which have been sufficiently well studied to provide 
a global picture of their distribution and abundance 
(see Map 1.2). 

Worm-like groups - 

There are several large, unrelated groups in the animal 
kingdom which have soft, elongated bodies and a general 
worm-like appearance. Many of these, while inconspicuous, 
are important residents of the reef 

Bristle worms (Polychaeta) 

These are segmented worms with a pair of paddle-like legs 
on each segment. The head bears a number of sensory 
organs, which may be highly adapted in different species. 
They include almost every feeding habit: carnivores, 
herbivores, omnivores, detritus feeders and filter feeders. 
Many burrow inside coral or rock, chemically dissolving 
or physically grinding their way in and then remaining to 
filter feed or to gather and digest sheets of mucus secreted 
by the coral. Perhaps the most familiar are the sabellid 
worms, sessile burrowing forms that extend a feathery net 
of tentacles to filter the passing water. Such conspicuous 
species are just the tip of the iceberg, however, and in one 
study over 1 400 individual polychaete worms representing 
103 species were extracted from a single 4.7 kilo lump of 
branching coral. 

Ribbon worms (Nemertea) 

These are typically highly elongated and flattened worms, 
free-living carnivores often feeding on polychaetes. They 
have very soft bodies, and some produce complex pro- 
tective chemicals to deter predators. 




Peanut worms (Sipuncula) 

This is a group of unsegmented worms which typically 
burrow into sand or bore into rocks and corals and are 
detrital or algal feeders. 

Flatworms (Platyhelminthes) 

The phylum Platyhelminthes is a large group of small, 
elongated animals with highly flattened bodies. Many 
species are parasitic, however there is one highly active 
carnivorous group, the polyclad flatworms (Polycladida) 
which are relatively widespread on reefs. Their bodies are 
covered in cilia and some are capable of swimming. A 
number of coral reef species are highly colorful and can be 
confused with nudibranchs (see Molluscs, page 37). Few 
detailed inventories have been produced and identification 
to species is usually very difficult. 



Crustaceans 

The Crustacea, one of the largest groups of organisms 
on the reefs, are not the most conspicuous. They are 
defined by having two pairs of antennae, and typically have 
a chitinous exoskeleton and jointed biramous limbs. 
Beyond this definition, the group includes a vast array 
of species with highly different body forms The class 




Above: A flatworm on a reef in Pulau Redang, Malaysia. Below: The spiny lobsters Panulirus spp. are of considerable 
commercial importance on reefs around the world. 



36 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




Maxillopoda contains the abundant copepods which are 
usually very small, and includes many planktonic species 
which are found in the coral reef environment. It also 
includes the barnacles which are commonly observed 
on reefs and intertidal areas. The class Ostracoda is another 
highly diverse group, often showing a bivalved appearance. 
These again are very small, mostly filter feeders or 
detritivores. The most important and widely recognized 
group on coral reefs is the class Malacostraca, and in 
particular, within this, the Decapoda and the Stomatopoda. 

Decapoda 

These are the shrimps, lobsters and crabs, with some 
10 000 species worldwide, including numerous species 
found on the reef A brief list of the major groups is 
provided below. 

Penaeidea - these are the commercially important 
prawns, often associated with inshore lagoon and man- 
grove areas, but not well represented on the reef. 

Stenopodidea (boxing or coral shrimps) - a small 
but well known group usually found in pairs and living 
in "cleaning stations" where they regularly remove para- 
sites from fish or other crustaceans. They have a highly 
enlarged third pair of thoracic legs, with pincers on the tips. 

Caridea - a large group of shrimps with a number of 
sub-groups: 

Palaemonidae - on reefs, the palaemonid shrimps 
are well represented by commensal species which live in 
facultative or obligate partnerships with corals, anemones, 
molluscs and echinoderms. The genus Periclimenes is par- 
ticularly widespread. Many species have striking colors 
which they are capable of adapting to suit their hosts. 

Alpheidae (snapping shrimps) - also known as pistol 
shrimps, these are perhaps the commonest crustacean 
family on reefs. They are able to make a cracking sound 



with their pincers and are largely responsible for the 
almost constant background snapping noises heard on 
many reefs. Most are detrital feeders. Some of the best 
known snapping shrimps are those which share their 
burrows with certain species of goby: the former maintain 
a burrow in which they both live, while the latter provide 
warning when predators approach. 

Other caridean shrimps are the hump-backed or cleaner 
shrimps (Hippolytidae) which include more colorful com- 
mensal and cleaner species, and the harlequin shrimps 
(Gnathophyllidae), also very colorful, which include some 
species that prey on starfish such as crown-of-thorns. 

Palinura (spiny lobsters) - although not a diverse 
group this includes the familiar crayfish, which are a 
large, colorful and commercially important group of 
species found on reefs around the world. The group also 
includes the less commonly observed slipper lobsters. 

Anomura (hermit crabs, squat lobsters and 
porcelain crabs) - the hermit crabs are widespread on 
reefs and nearby intertidal areas. They are well known for 
their habit of utilizing discarded mollusc shells as a form 
of protection. They have an extended and soft abdomen 
which fits well into the coiled whorls of these shells, and 
they regularly exchange shells as they grow. Most are 
scavengers or detrital feeders. Porcelain crabs are less 
diverse and less obvious on the reef, but are often found 
living in association with anemones. They resemble true 
crabs, but only have three pairs of walking legs, and have 
elongated antennae. 

Brachyura (true crabs) - one of the most diverse 
crustacean groups on coral reefs, with more than 2 000 
species described from the tropical and sub-tropical 
waters of the Indo-Pacific. The true crabs are recognizable 
by their strong and usually broad thoracic carapace and 
their greatly reduced abdomen which remains tucked up 



Left: A banded coral shrimp Stenopus hispidus. These play an important role as "cleaners" on the reef. Right: The 
peacocl< mantis shrimp Odontodactylus scyllarus, a powerful predator in the Indo-Pacific. 



The World of Coral Reefs 











on the underside of their thorax. All have four pairs of 
walking legs and often a well developed pair of pincers. 

Stomatopoda 

Also known as mantis shrimps, these are an ancient group 
which are thought to have diverged among the Crustacea 
around 400 million years ago. Over 400 species have been 
described, the majority of which are to be found in shallow 
tropical seas. All are active predators, with highly developed 
visual acuity and a specially adapted second pair of thoracic 
legs. In one major group, the smashing mantis shrimps 
(Gonodactylidae), these legs are strengthened into club-like 
appendages, while in the other group, the spearing mantis 
shrimps (Lysiosquillidae), they are adapted into barbed 
spears. Both groups are able to unfold these appendages 
at remarkable speeds to hit their prey. Smashing mantis 
shrimps are capable of breaking open the shells of molluscs 
and crabs, while spearing mantis shrimps are able to impale 
softer bodied shrimps and fishes. 

Molluscs 

Molluscs are another highly diverse group found on the 
reefs, with one estimate of more than 10 000 described 
species from coral reefs. Members of this phylum all have 
a body which can be broadly divided into a head, a central 
visceral mass and a strong muscular foot. Most also have 
a mantle which to varying degrees folds around the body. 
A rasping tongue, or radula, is common and most species 
secrete a calcareous shell. Four groups predominate, and 
all are present on reefs. 

Chitons (Polyplacophora) 

These are regarded as the most ancient of the molluscs, 
recognizable by their low, oval shape dominated by the 



presence of eight transverse and overlapping shell plates. 
They are grazers, and are most commonly found in shal- 
low and intertidal areas. 

Snails (Gastropoda) 

The largest and most diverse group, the Gastropoda usually 
have a single coiled shell. The simplest forms (Archaeo- 
gastropoda) include the limpets, abalones, trochus, turbans 
and nerites, all of which are algal grazers. Another major 
group is the Mesogastropoda, which encompasses many 
reef species, including the cowries, periwinkles and 
conches. Many are algal grazers, although some have 
developed specialized diets - the helmet shells, tritons and 
tun shells feed on echinoderms. The Neogastropoda are a 
more advanced group. Many have an elongated siphonal 
canal and highly developed proboscis which can be used for 
capturing prey. In this way, the mure.x shells are capable of 
boring through the shells of other molluscs and injecting 
them with venom, while the cone shells have developed a 
highly specialized radula tooth attached to a poison sac. 
They are able to fire this, rather like a harpoon, and 
rapidly kill even highly mobile prey such as fish. 

Opisthobranch gastropods are another well known 
sub-group, with some shelled forms such as the bubble 
shells, but also a large number of shell-less forms inclu- 
ding the algal-grazing sea hares and the highly diverse and 
colorful nudibranchs. The latter are all carnivorous and 
many have relatively specialized diets. Some are able to 
maintain nematocysts from their prey and use them in 
defense, while others utilize the toxic chemicals their prey 
have developed, again for their own protection. 

Bivalves (Bivalvia) 

These are a large group of bilaterally symmetrical molluscs 
with a shell completely split into two matching halves and 



Left: A cowrie Cypraea, dearly showing its muscular foot and the thin mantle of tissue partly covering its shell. Right: A 
nudibranch Nembrotha cristata amidst tunicates and coral. 



38 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Bryozoans 




joined with a hinge ligament. Many reef species are found to 
burrow into soft substrates, or become incorporated into the 
reef matrix as coral or calcareous algae grow around them. 
The majority of bivalves are filter feeders. Groups include 
oysters, thorny oysters, scallops, mussels and the giant 
clams. This latter group (family Tridacnidae) is restricted 
to the Indo-Pacific and all species live in a close association 
with zooxanthellae. The giant clam Tridacna gigas can 
reach over 1.3 meters in length and weigh over 300 kilos. 

Cephalopods (Cephalopoda) 

These are the most highly modified molluscs in which the 
head, and the eyes in particular, are highly developed, 
while the foot has been modified into a number of 
tentacles or arms. One major group, the Nautiloidea or 
nautili, is largely restricted to deep water and not found on 
reefs. The other group (Coleoidea) includes the cuttlefish, 
squids and octopuses. All are active predators, with horny 
"beaks" developed around their mouth and specialized 
suction cups on their arms or tentacles for holding prey 
and other objects. All have chromatophores in their skin 
and are capable of extrernely rapid color changes which 
they utilize for camouflage, but also as a form of com- 
munication between individuals. 

Most cuttlefish maintain a significant calcareous 
"shell" which is internalized, while some squid also 
contain vestigial traces of a chitinous shell. Both of these 
groups are highly active free-swimming predators, but 
neither are numerous or diverse in reef environments. 
Octopuses are more widespread, although many remain 
hidden during the day. 



Individual bryozoans are tiny aniinals with a highly 
characteristic feeding device known as a lophophore, a 
ring of ciliated tentacles to capture and direct food into 
a central mouth. Most lay down a horny or calcareous 
skeleton, and are capable of withdrawing into this, and 
sometimes closing it with a hard operculum. They are 
sessile and colonial. Individual "zooids" in a colony may 
show particular specializations. Many are encrusting, but 
a number of species form erect plate or plant-like 
structures and are known as lace corals. Bryozoans, 
although inconspicuous, are numerous on all reefs around 
the world, and are often among the first organisms to 
colonize newly exposed surfaces. They can play an impor- 
tant role in cementing fragments and consolidating the 
reef structure. 



Echinoderms 

The echmoderms are a diverse and highly conspicuous 
phylum. They are divided into five groups, which appear 
highly differentiated, but have a few traits in common. 
Unlike most organisms, which can be divided sym- 
metrically into two halves or are simply radial (corals 
and some worm-like groups), the echinoderms exhibit 
pcnta-radial symmetry - their bodies radiate into five 
symmetrical parts. All echinoderms also lay down a 
calcareous skeleton. Extending from their body surface 
they have small tube feet which are important in respir- 
ation and in most groups also serve a role in locomotion. 




Left: A scallop Pedum spondyloideum - this species does not bore into the coral, but the coral has grown up around it. 
Right: A cuttlefish Sepia sp. hovers over a solitary mushroom coral Fungia. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Feather stars (Crinoidea) 

These have a very simple, small body or calyx from which 
five arms radiate. These branch almost immediately and 
hence most feather stars appear to have numerous arms. 
Each is equipped with many short pinnules and the arms 
are used to sweep the water for plankton. Below the calyx 
are numbers of short, dextrous cirri which are used for 
locomotion and to grip the substrate. Most feather stars 
are nocturnal. 

Starfish (Asteroidea) 

The starfish, or sea stars, are a well known group. Most 
have five arms, and in many cases the body organs are 
housed, or extend into, these arms. They have a mouth on 
their underside and anus facing upwards. Many species 
are capable of extruding their stomachs through this 
opening in order to facilitate digestion. They move using 
the large numbers of tube feet on their underside. Starfish 
include detritus feeders, omnivores and predators. One 
of the better known is the crown-of-thorns starfish 
Acanlluister planci, a large and unusual looking starfish 
with a large central body, numerous legs and a covering of 
sharp spines. It is a regular predator of scleractinian corals 
(see page 60). 

Brittle stars (Ophiuroidea) 

These are somewhat similar to starfish in general body 
plan. They have a distinct central disc containing the body 
organs, with a ventral mouth, but they have a very simple 
digestive system and no anus. Most have only five arms. 





which are slender, highly mobile and typically covered in 
spines. They use these arms, rather than their simple tube 
feet, for locomotion. Most are detritus feeders, grazing 
the substrate beneath them. Others utilize their arms, 
sometimes with a mucous web, to sweep the water and 
capture prey, while some are more active predators. The 
basket stars are a sub-group with highly branched arms 
used to filter the water at night. 

Urchins (Echinoidea) 

Sea urchins are a highly distinctive group. They have no 
arms, and the small plates of the skeleton have fused to 
form a "test" which acts like a shell to protect the internal 
organs, but is in turn covered by a thin layer of living 
tissue. The body is typically further protected by a large 
number of spines. All urchins are grazers or detrital 
feeders, and have a powerful set of scraping jaws on their 
underside. Among the most familiar species on the reef 
are the long-spined species of the family Diadematidae, 
bearing highly elongated (typically 20 centimeters long) 
dark spines. These perform a critical function as grazers in 
many reef ecosystems and their loss on some Caribbean 
reefs has been linked to rapid declines in coral cover as 
algal growth predominates (see page 61). A number of 
urchins have developed secondary bilateral symmetry and 
have adapted to a burrowing lifestyle. These include the 
heart urchins and the highly flattened sand dollars. 

Sea cucumbers (Holothurians) 

These are elongated, sometimes even worm-like, creatures 
in which the calcareous skeleton is highly reduced to a mass 



Left: A group of colorful feather stars on a reef in the Philippines. Right: The central disc and highly mobile arms of a 
brittle star in the Caribbean. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 







MM 




of tiny spicules in the body wall. They have a mouth at one 
end which is typically ringed by tentacles, while the anus 
lies at the other end. Tube feet are concentrated along 
the bottoin of the body and used in locomotion in some 
groups. Some are detrital feeders, and many of the more 
conspicuous forms on reefs feed by ingesting sand and 
digesting the microfauna it contains. Others, mainly bur- 
rowing species, have long and highly branched tentacles 
which they use to collect plankton. As a form of defense, 
many sea cucumbers eject a number of sticky tubules from 
their anus when threatened. If these do not sufficiently deter 
their predators they may also eviscerate, expelling most of 
their mtemal organs through their anus. These are highly 
edible and the predator may feed on these while the animal 
escapes and begins to regenerate its internal organs. 

Tunicates 

This group includes a number of planktonic salps, but most 
important on the reefs are the ascideans or sea squirts. 
These are sessile animals and typically have a tube-like 
structure with a large opening, the inhalent siphon into 
which water is drawn, passing through narrow pores or gill 
slits before being exhaled through a slightly smaller 
exhalent siphon. Food is captured from this water onto 
mucus. This group is well represented and quite diverse on 
most reefs. Some are solitary, although even these are often 
found in aggregations, while others are colonial and the 
individual zooids may be more difficult to distinguish. 
Quite a number of species on the reef have developed a 
tight association with blue-green algal symbionts. 



Fishes 

Fish are one of the most conspicuous elements of reef life, 
being diverse, highly active, and often among the most 
colorful elements of reef communities. Over 4 000 species 
offish inhabit coral reefs, representing over 25 percent of 
all marine fish species. Although not restricted to reef 
environments, quite a number of groups are distinctively 
associated with the reefs and a number of these are briefly 
described below. 

Groupers (Serranidae) 

A large group of highly active carnivorous fishes, 
typically with large mouths and more than one row of 
teeth. One highly distinctive sub-group are the anthiases, 
small and colorful zooplankton feeders often forming 
dense schools over coral heads. Most of the remainder are 
large stocky fishes which may be active or ambush-based 
predators, mostly feeding on fishes and crustaceans. The 
giant grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus is the largest true 
reef fish, recorded to over 270 centimeters long and more 
than 400 kilos in weight. 



Above: A pineapple sea cucumber or prickly redfish Thelenota ananas. Center: A small group of ascideans or sea squirts 
Rhopalaea. Below: Goatfish iMullidael and surgeonfish lAcanthuridael in the Central Indian Ocean. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



Snappers (Lutjanidae) 

This is a family of about 100 medium to large, elongate 
fishes, all of which are predatory. The majority feed on 
fishes, with some crustaceans and other invertebrates, 
while a small number feed on plankton. They are popular 
food fish in many countries. The majority are found on 
reefs, although a few commercially important species are 
found in depths between 100 and 500 meters. 

A related family, the fusiliers (Caesionidae) are 
restricted to the Indo-Pacific. Most of the 20 species are 
also reef-associated, however they roam more widely, 
often in large schools, feeding on zooplankton during 
the day. 

Grunts and sweetlips (Haemuiidae) 

In many ways these are very similar to the snappers, being 
elongate, but heavy bodied. They are generally nocturnal 
feeders and largely feed on invertebrates, with some 
plankton feeders. They are called grunts because of a 
common habit of grinding their pharyngeal teeth which, 
amplified by their gas-filled swim bladder, produces a 
grunting sound. The term sweetlips comes from the highly 
thickened lips of the Indo-Pacific genus Pleclorhinchus. 

Butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae) 

Among the best known of the reef fishes, these are small 
disc-shaped fish, highly colorful with distinctive, almost 
flag-like patterns. Most of the 121 recorded species are 
reef-associated, and only eight are recorded outside the 
tropics. They have small mouths, and many pick at the 
substrate, feeding on a mixed diet of invertebrates and 
algae. Some are more specialist and feed largely or exclu- 
sively on live coral polyps, while a few feed on plankton. 

Angelfish (Pomacanthidae) 

Closely related to the butterflyfish, these also have 
relatively flattened bodies, though more rectangular in 
profile. Again this is a highly reef-associated family, with 
the vast majority of the 83 known species restricted to 
shallow tropical seas. Most are also highly colorful, but 
certain smaller species are relatively cryptic. Some 
species feed on detritus and algae, others specialize on 
sponges, and a few feed on plankton. 

Damselfish (Pomacentridae) 

These are an abundant and diverse group found on the 
coral reefs of the world, with over 320 species. All are 
small, and often highly colorful. Many are schooling 
species, and feed on plankton. Some are grazers and a 
number are known as farmer fish as they actively guard 
a patch of algal turf from other grazers. The anemone- 
fish live in a close symbiotic association with large 
sea anemones. 




Above: A g/anf grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus, the largest true reef fish. Center: A school o/' snapper Lutjanus 
ehrenbergii and Gnathodentex aurolineatus. Below: Oriental sweetlips Plectorhinchus orientalis, with a small cleaner 
wrasse Labroides dimidiatus. 



42 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




Wrasses (Labridae) 

It is difficult to generalize about this group, which is not 
only one of the largest groups, but also the most diverse 
in terms of appearance and lifestyle. All wrasses are 
carnivorous, but their diet varies considerably. The 
humphead or Napoleon wrasse Cheilinus undulatus is the 
largest member of the family. Reaching 229 centimeters 
and over 190 kilos, it feeds primarily on molluscs and 
crustaceans. Many of the smaller members of the group feed 
quite generally on benthic invertebrates including some 
large and quite diverse genera such as Thalassoma and 
Halichoeres. A number of species feed on zooplankton, 
including the genera Ciirhilabrus and Paracheilimis . In the 
Indo-Pacific the cleaner wrasses Labroides spp. feed on 
diseased or damaged tissues or external parasites of other 
fishes - they establish cleaner stations and solicit the 
attention of other fish, or may be approached by particular 
fish requiring their services. This role is of considerable 
importance, and many would-be predators allow these 
wrasses to perform this service and even to enter the mouth 
and gill areas without attempting to eat them. 

Parrotfish (Scaridae) 

Closely related to the wrasses, parrotfish are morpho- 
logically all relatively similar: elongate robust fishes, with 
a powerful beak formed from the fusion of their teeth. The 
majority are extremely colorful, although these color 
patterns are also observed to change dramatically over the 
course of the fish's lifetime. They are a predominantly 
herbivorous group, and feed by scraping or excavating 
the rock surface, often ingesting significant amounts of 
rock with the benthic algae they eat. A few of the larger 
species also feed in part on live coral. The largest, the 
bumphead parrotfish Bolhomelopon muricaltim. reach 
120 centimeters, and have been estimated to remove 
between 2.5 and 5 tons of reef rock per year, converting 
it to sand and thus acting as a major erosive force on 
some reefs. 

Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) 

This group is named for the sharp spines carried towards 
the base of the tail and used in defense. They are another 
highly reef-associated group, with relatively compressed, 
oval-shaped bodies. Of the 72 species described only six 
are recorded in the Atlantic. The majority of surgeonfish 
are algal grazers, but a number, including the unicornfish 
Naso spp., feed on plankton. 

In addition to these large and conspicuous groups 
there are very many others. Some, such as the highly 
diverse blennies and gobies, and also the moray eels, 
soldierfish, cardinalfish and scorpionfish, include many 
reef-associated species, but may be less conspicuous on 
the reefs. Others are regular visitors, including the sharks 



Above: A long-nosed butterflyfish Forcipiger flavissimus, its fine mouth parts enabling it to forage for invertebrate food in 
the fine structure of the reef. Center: The Indian dascyllus Dascyllus carneus, a small damsel which gains shelter amidst 
branching corals. Below: A queen parrotfish Scarus vetula resting at night in a mucus bubble. Note the powerful "beak". 



The World of Coral Reefs 



43 



and rays, jacks or trevallies, and barracuda. Reef fish play 
a vitally important role in the wider functioning of the reef 
ecosystem, as has been borne out by the observed impacts 
of overfishing in many areas (see Chapter 2). They are 
also among the best studied of all species found on reefs, 
and many are widely regarded as indicators in the study of 
wider patterns of biodiversity on reefs. 

Reptiles 

The overall diversity of reptiles in the oceans is very low. 
Most modern reptiles have kidneys which are unable to 
tolerate high salinities, so the two main groups which are 
found on or near reefs are the ancient group of marine 
turtles and the modern group of sea snakes. There are 
seven species of marine turtle, all of which are found in 
tropical and sub-tropical waters. None are strictly reef 
species, but several regularly make use of reefs as a source 
of food, notably hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, which 
feed on invertebrates. Green turtles feed on marine plants 
and algae and are often seen feeding in seagrass areas 
near reefs. All marine turtles regularly nest on tropical 
coastlines, often close to reefs. 

There are some 55 species of sea snake belonging to 
the family Elapidae, only found in the Indo-Pacific. The 
largest group (sub-family Hydrophiinae) are the most 
highly adapted, many never leave the water and all 
give birth to live young. Another group, the sea kraits 
(Laticaudinae) still leave the water to lay their eggs. All 
are highly adapted to their aquatic environment, with 
flattened tails to aid swimming, and considerable breath- 
holding capabilities. Most eat fish, and have developed 
highly toxic venom to ensure that their prey die quickly 
before they have time to swim off. 

Seabirds 

Although not exhibiting spectacular diversity, a number of 
seabirds are found regularly in coral reef environments. 
These include predominantly pelagic seabirds which nest 
on tropical oceanic islands, notably boobies (Sulidae), 
tropicbirds (Phaethontidae). terns and noddies (Sternidae), 
frigatebirds (Fregatidae) and shearwaters (Procellariidae). 
These often breed in spectacular numbers on small coral 
islands, especially where there is little human disturbance, 
and no predation from introduced species such as rats. 
Although they primarily feed on offshore pelagic species 
they may take some nearshore species. 

Smaller numbers of waders and other seabirds are 
also found on or near reefs. These include sandpipers, 
oystercatchers, turnstones and plovers. Egrets and herons 
are also widespread, often feeding across the reef flat 
at low tide. Pelicans are quite common on reefs in the 
Caribbean region, and in a few places flamingos have 





Above: A school of jacks, the silver pompano Trachmotus blochii. Center: A banded sea snake Laticauda coming ashore to 
a small coral cay. Below: Hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata on a Caribbean reef. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




been recorded on coral reefs. Birds of prey, including 
ospreys and sea eagles, are likewise occasional visitors 
to the reef. 



Marine mammals 

With the exception of humans, mammals are not 
widespread on coral reefs. One important group, the 
sirenians, is often found in close proximity to reefs. These 
animals, the manatees of the Caribbean and the dugongs 
of the Indo-Pacific, are large herbivores that feed in 
seagrass areas, rarely venturing over the reefs themselves. 

Another group is seals and sea lions (pinnipeds). 
Historically, monk seals were distributed in the Caribbean 
and Hawai'i (with a third Mediterranean species). The 
Caribbean monk seal is now extmct, and the Hawaiian 
monk seal is still declining despite extensive measures for 
its protection. Two other species, the Galapagos fur seal 
and the Galapagos sea lion, are found in the Galapagos, 
where there are coral communities but no true reefs. 

Perhaps the best known and most diverse group is 
that of the whales and dolphins (cetaceans). A number of 
species are found in tropical waters and may be observed 
near reefs. Dolphins in particular regularly shelter in bays 
and lagoons near reefs, and occasionally feed on reef 
organisms. Humpback whales return annually to breed in 
tropical waters, and have a number of regular breeding 
grounds close to coral reefs, including locations in 
Hawai'i, the Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean. 
Despite these associations, cetaceans are typically only 
visitors to coral reefs, and rarely dependent on them. 

The human presence 

Life on the coral reef is complex and diverse. Our 
understanding of the diversity of life, of the complexity of 
interactions, and of the structures and patterns that occur 
on coral reefs around the world is still extremely limited. 
Humans have lived in very close proximity to reefs for 
millennia, and in many areas can certainly be considered 
to be a part of these ecosystems. At the same time, 
however, changes almost entirely related to human 
activities are being imposed on coral reefs around the 
world. In many areas structures are being degraded, 
diversity is diminishing, and the complex interactions of 
the reef are being reduced and undermined. These issues, 
together with the efforts which are being made to redress 
them, are considered in the next chapter. 



Above: A grey heron stalking prey on the reef flat. Center: A dugong Dugong dugon siv;ms along the edge of a coral reef. 
The lines on its back are probably scars from boat propellers lpt)oto: Doug Pernne/Seapics.coml. Below: A healthy reef off 
Nusa Penida, Indonesia. 



The World of Coral Reefs 



A5 



Selected bibliography 



Allen GR, Steene R 119991. Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide. 

Tropical Reef Research. Singapore. 
Allen GR, Steene PC, Allen M 11999). A Guide to Angelfishes 

and Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef 

Research, Singapore. 
Benzie JAH 11999). Genetic structure of coral reef organisms: 

ghosts oi dispersal past. AmerZool39: 131 -U5. 
Birkeland C led! 11997). Life and Death of Coral Reefs. 

Chapman and Hall, New York, USA. 
Connell JH 11978). Diversity in tropical ram forests and coral 

reefs. Science ]99: 1302-1310. 
Crossland CJ 11988). Latitudinal comparisons of coral reef 

structure and function. Proc 6tti Int Coral Reef Symp 1: 

221-226. 
Done TJ, Ogden JC, Wiebe WJ, Rosen 8R 11996). Biodiversity 

and ecosystem function of coral reefs. In: Mooney HA, 

Cushman JH, Medina E, Sala OE, Schulze E-D ledsl 

Functional Roles of Biodiversity: A Global Perspective. John 

Wiley and Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK. 
Hubbell SP (1997), A unified theory of biogeography and 

relative species abundance and its application to tropical 

ram forests and coral reefs. Coral Reefs 16 (Supplement): 

S9-S21. 
Huston I^A (1985). Patterns of species diversity on coral reefs. 

4nnffevfco(SysM6: U9-177. 
Huston MA (1994). Biological Diversity: Tfie Coexistence of 

Species on Cfianging Landscapes. Cambridge University 

Press, Cambridge, UK. 
Jackson JBC (1991). Adaption and diversity of reef corals. 

S;oSc;ence 41(7): 475-482. 
KnovKlton N. Jackson JBC (1994). New/ taxonomy and niche 

partitioning on coral reefs: jack of all trades or master of 

some^ Trends in Ecology and Evolution 9(1): 7-9. 
Lieske E. Myers R (19941. Collins Pocket Guide: Coral Reef 

Fisfies: Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Harper Collins 

Publishers, London, UK. 
McAllister DE, Schueler FW, Roberts CM. Hawkins JP (1994). 

Mapping and CIS analysis of the global distribution of coral 

reef fishes on an equal area grid. In: Miller Rl (ed). Mapping 

the Diversity of Nature. Chapman and Hall, London, UK. 
Mather P, Bennett I (eds) (1993). A Coral Reef Handbook: A 

Guide to the Geology, Flora and Fauna of the Great Barrier 

Reef. 3rd edn. Surrey Beatty and Sons Pty Ltd, Chipping 

Norton, NSW. Australia. 
Ogden JC (1997). Ecosystem Interactions In the tropical coastal 

seascape. In: Birkeland C led). Life and Death of Coral Reefs. 

Chapman and Hall, New York, USA. 
Ormond RFG, Roberts CM (1997), The biodiversity of coral reef 

fishes. In: Ormond RFG, Gage JD, Angel MV ledsl. fvfarine 

Biodiversity Patterns and Processes. Cambridge University 

Press, Cambridge, UK. 
Paulay G 11997). Diversity and distribution of reef organisms. 

In: Birkeland C led). Life and Death of Coral Reefs. Chapman 

and Hall, New York, USA. 
Polunin NVC, Roberts CM leds) 119961. Reef Fisheries. 

Chapman and Hall, London, UK. 
Pyle RL 11996). Exploring deep coral reefs: how much 

biodiversity are we missing? Global Biodiversity 6: 3-7. 
Reaka-Kudla ML 11997). The global biodiversity of coral reefs: 

a comparison with ram forests. In: Reaka-Kudla ML, Wilson 



DE, Wilson EO ledsl. Biodiversity II: Understanding and 

Protecting our Biological Resources. Joseph Henry Press, 

Washington DC, USA. 
Roberts CM 11997). Connectivity and management of 

Caribbean coral reefs. Science 278: 1454-1457. 
Roberts CM, Ormond RFG (1987). Habitat complexity and coral 

reef fish diversity and abundance on Red Sea fringing reefs. 

fvlarEcol Prog SeriV. 1-8. 
Sale PF led) 11991). The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs. 

Academic Press, San Diego, USA. 
Spalding MD, Blasco F, Field CD 11997). World Mangrove Atlas. 

The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, 

Okinawa, Japan. 
Spalding MD, Grenfell AM 11 997). New estimates of global and 

regional coral reef areas. Coral Reefs 16: 225-230. 
Veron JEN 11995). Corals in Space and Time: The Biogeography 

and Evolution of the Scleractinia. UNSW Press, Sydney, 

Australia. 
Veron JEN 12000). Corals of the World. 3 vols. Australian 

Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 



46 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 2 
Signs of Change 




Coral reefs are a rare but critically im- 
portant resource. For ttie most part they 
are located tar from major towns and 
cities, and many of the largest expanses 
of reefs in the world are located in some 
of the most remote areas of the planet. Despite this 
apparent scarcity and remoteness, coral reefs are 
probably the most familiar marine habitat to peoples 
across the globe. In the developed nations they fea- 
ture in ecology lessons, holiday brochures, advertising 
campaigns, tropical aquaria and numerous wildlife 
documentaries. In many of the countries in which they 
occur they are a critical part of everyday existence, 
providing coastal defense, a source of food, recreation 



and income. These same reefs are increasingly being 
seen at the global level as a rare resource of incal- 
culable value for current and future generations, 
a global heritage of incredible beauty, immense 
productivity and unparalleled diversity. In this chapter 
we explore the different ways in which humans have 
used reefs over the millennia and particularly in the 
present day. We go on to consider the problems which 
many of these uses are now creating for the survival 
of coral reefs. Finally we consider some of the positive 
actions that are being taken to prevent further dam- 
age or to reverse the decline; actions which benefit 
not only the reefs themselves, but also the popu- 
lations who rely on them. 



Left: Dar es Salaam. Tanzania. Sprawling coastal towns and cities are bringing countless pressures to bear on adjacent 
reefs. Rigfit: Tourism to coral reefs has boomed in recent years, and is bringing critical income to many coral 
reef nations. 



Signs of C h ange 



The importance of reefs 



Around the worli reefs are an enormously valuable 
resource. In some cases, efforts have been made to 
calculate simple economic statistics to capture this 
value, but it is equally important to look beyond dollar 
values. Reefs are a source of employment, a source of 
food, a source of protection and a source of leisure. In 
many places where there are reefs there are few other 
natural resources which can replace such functions, and 
in this sense a simple economic value pales into insig- 
nificance against social, nutritional, cultural and other 
measures. Perhaps the earliest services to humans ever 
provided by reefs were those of protecting coastlines and 
even creating new land. Former reefs underlie many 
coastal lands, while at the present time many islands, and 
indeed entire nations, are built on the coral rock and sand 
which is an integral part of a living reef ecosystem. 
Coastal populations have similarly relied upon reefs for 
food since pre-history. Today many coastal communities 
rely on reefs in a similar way, catching fish for their own 
use, but fisheries have also diversified considerably, and 
reef fish, molluscs and crustaceans are now a major part 
of several commercial fisheries. Recent times have 
witnessed other uses of reefs, most notably in their 
explosive popularity as places for recreation and tourism 
in the last few decades. 



Fisheries 

Reefs, and particularly reef flats, have been used as an 
abundant and productive source of food for millennia. The 
earliest dated use comes from middens (waste dumps) con- 
taining shells and other remains in localities as far apart 
as Australia and the Americas, showing active gathering 
of reef flat organisms for food. The oldest site currently 
known is Matenkupum in Papua New Guinea, where fish 
bones and shells gathered by humans from reef flat and 
mangrove areas have been dated back some 32 000 years. 
The initial use of coral reefs for food was un- 
doubtedly restricted to the reef flats. Fish and shellfish 
were probably captured directly by hand, or by nets, 
spears, poison or traps. There is little or no evidence of 
outer reef-slope species in these early middens, and no 
evidence of fish hooks. However, offshore fisheries 
probably developed very early. The travels of Polynesians, 
ancient Egyptians and others are clearly dated back at 
least 3 000-4 000 years and show considerable seafaring 
abilities. It seems likely that coastal navigation pre-dates 
this by several millennia, and would undoubtedly have 



been linked to the utilization of the rich resources which 
lay beyond the reef flat. 

Today, reef fisheries are globally significant. In many 
nations, particularly those of the Pacific islands, coral 
reefs provide one of the major sources of animal protein. 
In a number of countries, including the Maldives, Kiribati. 
Tokelau and Tuvalu, an average of over 100 kilos of fish 
are consumed per person every year. In each of these cases 
the majority of these fish are nearshore species taken by 
artisanal fisheries. At the same time, commercial fisheries 
have been developing rapidly in many areas, with sales not 
only locally but also to export markets. 

Fishing methods 

Coral reef fisheries are typically multi-species fisheries 
and, because of this and the complex nature of the reef 
environment, they are also typically multi-gear fisheries. 
Only large industrial fishing gears are excluded (long 
lines, drift nets and most trawls) but, apart from these, 
almost every technique has been utilized at some point 
or other. 

Gleaning, or harvesting by hand, is still one of the 
most widely used and effective methods for collecting 
certain species. This is especially common on the reef flat, 
where crustaceans, molluscs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins 
and a host of other species may be collected by hand. 
In many societies such work is traditionally undertaken 
by women and children, while men may fish from boats 




Fisherman with a cast net, Antigua. 



48 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




offshore. Away from artisanal communities, harvesting by 
hand is still the predominant method for collecting many 
species, including the commercial fisheries for trochus, 
conch, clams, lobster and sea cucumbers. 

The use of nets on reefs is widespread. Cast nets are 
often used in shallow water. These are circular nets with 
a weighted perimeter. Typically the fisher stands in the 
water or walks towards a school of fish, then casts the nets 
over them. The weighted edges fall first, encircling and 
trapping the fish. Fixed nets are also placed on the reef 
flat and reef slope. Although they are a highly effective 
means of fishing, nets often get snagged on coral and 
cause breakage, and are sometimes abandoned. 

Fish traps range in size from small portable structures 
carried on boats through to sizeable structures built of 
stone, wood or bamboo directly on the reef flat. Typically 
the former use baits to attract fish, while the latter rely on 
fish becoming trapped at low tide, or may involve actively 
driving fish into the traps. 

The use of spears is still widespread in most areas. 
Prior to the availability of masks to see underwater, most 
spearing was done from the surface, and this is still the 
case in some places. Single or multi-pronged spears are 
stabbed or thrown at the targets. Underwater spearing was 
originally dominated by long spears which were lunged 
or stabbed at the target species. The use of spear guns is 
now a widespread and highly effective means of fishing. 
Spears are typically propelled by a rubber cord, and are 
attached to the gun by a narrow line which enables the 
fisher to hold on to the spear and fish after firing. 

Hook and line fishing is also widely used on reefs. 
Historical records of hooks go back many centuries, and 
there are examples made from mother of pearl, turtle shell. 



wood and many other materials. Today they are almost 
exclusively made from metal and attached to modern 
monofilament lines (metal traces are also commonly used, 
particularly for sharks which can bite through polypropy- 
lene line). Hook and line is used both on reef flats and over 
the reef slope. Techniques involve stationary baited lines 
and also trolling, in which lines are towed behind a boat and 
usually attract fish with a lure rather than bait. 

Driving fish into traps or nets is still undertaken in a 
few areas. Traditional methods involved the setting of 
a trap (fixed structures of the type described above, or 
an equivalent structure made up of fixed nets) and then 
chasing or frightening the fish into the trap using several 
people, sometimes carrying leaves or other items to help 
corral the fish. Two further destructive methods of dri- 
ving fish into nets on the reef slope have been noted in 
Southeast Asia. Miiro-ami fishing involves a line of breath- 
holding divers swimming down below a large suspended 
net armed with poles or rocks on lines. The divers literally 
smash the reef with the rocks or poles to chase the fish 
upward into the nets. (The divers are often children, and 
there is little or no concern for their welfare or safety.) 
Now illegal everywhere, some muro-ami fishing has been 
replaced by a technique known as paaling in which the 
divers hold hoses with compressed air and drive the fish 
towards the nets with walls of bubbles. 

Poisons or stupefactants have been used as a means 
of catching fish for many years. In traditional societies 
particular species of plant have been found to stun or kill 
fish. In more recent times detergents and bleaches have 
been found to have the same effect, while sodium cyanide 
is now the most widely used chemical. These materials are 
placed in tide pools, poured into the water or more directly 
squirted into the nooks and crannies of the reef slope. The 
fish are then simply collected by hand. 

Blast fishing is the most destructive fishing method 
on reefs. Explosives are usually home-made, often using 
fertilizers, although dynamite is sometimes used. They are 
typically thrown by hand towards the reef and explode on 
the water surface. The shock wave from the blast kills all 
the fish which have gas-filled swim bladders (the majority 
of species). It is non-selective, and many of the indi- 
viduals are lost as they sink to the bottom or become 
caught among the coral. 

The targets 

Within the great diversity of life on the reef there is a 
similar diversity in the species that are targeted for food, 
and tastes and traditions vary across the globe. Some 
groups, such as groupers and lobsters, are taken just about 
everywhere. Rabbitfish. parrotfish. snappers and emper- 
ors are also widely taken. In areas where tourism is 
dominant, certain species are often particularly popular 
and highly valuable, including grouper and snapper. 



Sharks have increasingly become a target, and are becoming rare in almost all areas. 



Sig ns of Ch a n g e 



lobster and conch. Among other groups, taste varies 
between localities and certain species are not popular, 
either a result of long-standing traditions or more recent 
reputations. The taste for shark flesh, for example, is 
highly localized. While many cultures do not like to eat 
shark there are others where it is very popular. Certain 
Pacific islanders have traditionally hunted sharks for 
many years, luring them alongside small fishing boats and 
capturing them with nooses in the days before strong 
hooks and steel traces. Marine turtles and their eggs were 
once popular worldwide, but the last century has seen 
their decimation in almost all areas and most countries 
now forbid or greatly restrict their hunting. The presence 
of ciguatera, a natural toxin (see page 31), in certain fish 
species appears to have some regional variation, but in 
many areas where it is more prevalent this has led to the 
avoidance of certain groups, such as jacks, barracuda and 
large snappers, which are more likely to carry the toxins. 
Many coral reef animals have complex breeding 
cycles which involve regular spawning at the same 
locality. Such occurrences are often linked to the phases 



of the moon and may be monthly or annual, and in some 
cases they involve very large aggregations of fish, which 
may have swum many kilometers to reach the spawning 
site. Scientific knowledge of these patterns is very recent, 
but in many cases they have been known to fisherfolk, 
particularly in the Pacific islands, for many years. Such 
aggregations make highly productive fishing sites, but 
they are also extremely susceptible to overfishing and it is 
possible in the course of only one or two spawning events 
to decimate an entire population of a species over a wide 
area of reef Traditional societies have often recognized 
the importance of these sites and imposed restrictions to 
prevent overharvesting. One rather unusual species tar- 
geted by traditional fishers in a number of Pacific islands 
is the palolo worm, which is the breeding phase of a rock- 
dwelling polychaete worm Palolo siciliensis. These swarm 
to the surface typically for two nights in succession every 
12 to 13 lunar months, when they become the center of a 
great celebration, collected in great numbers and eaten 
either raw or cooked. 

The demands of non-traditional societies combined 



The live fish trade 



Recent years have seen a spectacular growth In 
the demand for live lish in a number of Chinese 
restaurants in East Asia, notably in Hong Kong. 
Particular species are targeted, predominantly 
groupers and the humphead wrasse Cheilinus 
unduiatus. In 1997 it was estimated that Hong Kong 
imported some 32 000 tons of live food fish. Typical 
wholesale prices for these were US$40-100 per kilo, 
such that the overall annual value of this industry 
was estimated at US$500 million for Hong Kong 
alone. Market prices are considerably higher. 

While smaller fish are favored by many, another 
aspect to this trade has been the purchase of the 
largest possible fishes, which have become a status 
symbol in major celebrations and business dinners. 
There are records of individual fish measuring more 
than 2 meters in length retailing for more than 
US$10 000. The impact on the natural stocks of 
these species has been considerable. With such high 
values, many of these species have been all but 
decimated from the reefs around Southeast Asia, 
and vessels are collecting live fish from locations 
in the Western Indian Ocean and into the Pacific 
to meet demands in Asia. Unfortunately it is these 
largest individuals which have the greatest repro- 
ductive potential and so recovery from such drastic 
overfishing is likely to be slow. 




Live fish in a holding pen awaiting shipment to the 
restaurants of East Asia. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



The aquarium trade 



An estimated 1.5-2.0 million people worldwide keep 
marine aquaria, approximately half in the USA and a 
quarter in Europe. For the most part, these are 
hobbyists who maintain tropical fish stocks in home 
aquaria. Dedicated enthusiasts are able to propa- 
gate many species of coral and fish, but most 
aquaria are stocked from wild-caught species. 

In recent years the aquarium industry has 
attracted some controversy. Opponents to the trade 
draw attention to the damaging techniques some- 
times used to collect fish and invertebrates, and 
to high levels of mortality associated with insensi- 
tive shipping and poor husbandry along the supply 
chain. Aquarium species are typically gathered by 
local fishers using live capture techniques Isuch as 
slurp guns or barrier and hand nets] or chemical 
stupefactants such as sodium cyanide. The latter is 
non-selective, and adversely affects the overall 
health of the specimens as well as killing non- 
target organisms. 

Supporters of the aquarium industry maintain 
that it is potentially highly sustainable, that proper 
collection techniques have minimal impact on the 
coral reef, and that the industry is relatively low 
volume but very high value. There is little disagree- 
ment about the latter - a kilo of aquarium fish from 
one island country was valued at almost US$500 in 



2000, whereas reef fish harvested for food were 
worth only US$6. Aquarium species are a high 
value source of income in many coastal com- 
munities with limited resources, with the actual 
value to the fishers determined largely by market 
access. In Fiji many collectors pay an access fee to 
the villages to collect on their reefs, but by selling 
directly to exporters they can have incomes many 
times the national average. By contrast, in the 
Philippines there are many middlemen, and 
collectors themselves typically earn only around 
US$50 per month. 

The controversy over the benefits and costs, 
in terms of environmental impact, of the trade 
persists largely because of a lack of quantitative 
data. For some species, trade data are actually 
available under the provisions of the Convention on 
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild 
Fauna and Flora ICITESI. Under this convention 
regulated trade is permitted in snecies listed in 
Appendix II, which are vulnerable to exploitation but 
not yet at risk of extinction. All species of hard coral 
and giant clams are listed under Appendix II. 
Shipments of corals and clams involving Parties to 
the Convention must be accompanied by a CITES 
permit issued by the national CITES management 
authority Parties to CITES are then obliged to 



with improvements in transportation and the availability 
of refrigeration have greatly affected reef fisheries in 
many areas. These new markets are typically highly 
focussed towards single species. A number of species 
which were only eaten at the local level have hence 
become highly valuable, and are now largely taken by 
export fisheries. Eastern Asia, particularly China and 
Japan, is a large market for a number of species, including 
sea cucumbers, clams and sharks. The live fish trade is 
also extremely popular in a few markets in East Asia (see 
page 49). Western markets have tended to focus on lobster, 
conch and particular finfish. 

Productivity 

Considerable effort has been expended in trying to 
determine the size of fishery a reef can sustain. Obviously 
any such figure will depend on the degree of impact 
considered acceptable: the number of species which are 
likely to be utilized; and on numerous external factors 
such as light, temperamre and nutrients. In fact almost 
any level of fishing will have some impact, not only on 



the population of the target species, but on the reef 
community. Every species exists in relationship with other 
species, whether as predator, competitor or prey, so that 
removal of individuals will alter some of these balances. At 
low levels, such changes are impossible to detect and may 
be indistinguishable from natural variation. But as fishing 
pressure increases it is possible to detect impacts through 
changes in the size, density and biomass of individuals 
and the age structure of the population. From the fishers' 
perspective there can also be changes in the catch per unit of 
effort as fishing levels increase, and in extreme conditions 
particular species may disappear completely from the reef 

Quite a number of studies have attempted to look at 
the actual levels of yield on selected reefs and have shown 
figures ranging from about 0.2 to 40 tons per square kilo- 
meter per year. Such figures do not indicate sustainability, 
only utilization, and they are highly dependent on the 
calculations of area fished. One of the best studied and 
most heavily utilized reefs is Bolinao in the Philippines, 
where some 17 000 people are "employed" in the utili- 
zation of about 68 square kilometers of coral reef 



Signs of Change 



produce annual reports specifying the quantity of 
trade that has taken place in each listed species. 

In 1997 a total of 1 200 tons of coral was 
traded Internationally, with 56 percent imported 
by the USA and 15 percent by the European Union. 
Approximately half of this was live coral for aquaria, 
a tenfold Increase on the amount of live coral traded 
in the late 1980s. 

No marine aquarium fish or invertebrates other 
than clams or corals are listed under CITES. Only 
very rough estimates of trade figures are available, 
suggesting that 15-20 million fish from approxi- 
mately 1 000 species may be traded per year. The 
trade In Individual fish species is unknown, and no 
data exist on the extent of the trade in Invertebrates 
other than corals and clams. 

Thus, while the current impacts of the aqua- 
rium trade remain poorly known, the potential for 
this industry is considerable. It Is quite possible to 
manage aquarium fisheries at low and sustainable 
levels. It is further possible to capture live species 
using non-destructive techniques. With well man- 
aged shipping and husbandry, mortality can also be 
kept very low, as has already been shown by some 
operators in the industry. Targeting mostly non-food 
species, aquarium fisheries can, in theory at least, 
provide an alternative economic activity for low 




A branching coral ready for shipment in a trade 
which is now monitored by CITES. 

income coastal populations and an important 
source of foreign exchange for national economies, 
as well as a stronger economic incentive for the 
sustainable management of reefs. The application 
of international certification schemes may provide 
an important tool for achieving this. 



It seems likely that sustainable yields from reefs will 
actually vary considerably depending on local ecological 
conditions. There may also be substantial regional 
differences. Estimates from the Caribbean suggest that 
4-5 tons of fish per square kilometer per year may be 
sustainable, while figures may be higher in Southeast 
Asia. Such figures are calculated on the basis of a multi- 
species fishery. Where only a small sub-set offish species 
is taken, much lower figures would be expected. 

Aquaculture 

In addition to the fisheries already mentioned, aquaculture 
is of increasing importance in many coral reef countries. 
In the broader coral reef environment, shrimp farming is 
probably the most widespread and high value form of 
aquaculture. It is also, typically, one of the most damaging 
to the environment, and often to the human communities 
nearby. By contrast there are several other aquaculture 
activities which have little or no impact on the sur- 
rounding ecosystems and appear to provide a sustainable 
and potentially high value use of coral reef habitats. Such 



aquaculture includes pearl oysters, clams and algae, as 
well as a range of corals and other species for the marine 
aquarium trade. The coral reef environment not only 
provides both the space and the ideal conditions for 
cultivating these species, but in many of these industries 
remains critical to the supply of nutrients as well as wild 
stock with which to initiate and maintain the industries. 

Shrimp farming is more typically associated with 
mangrove areas than with coral reefs, and large areas of 
mangrove in the tropics have been converted to shrimp 
farms. Conversion itself often involves near complete 
destruction of forests, with the digging of wide pools for 
the rearing of the prawns. The process of developing and 
running such an operation can lead to the production of 
considerable sediments and the release of large amounts 
of nutrients and other chemicals utilized in the intensive 
production process, and these can be damaging to nearby 
reef ecosystems. All too often poor management means 
that these farms have a highly limited lifespan, although 
the profits may be very large indeed during the few (often 
5-10) years of operation. Closure of the farms is rarely 



52 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



tied to any ecological restoration and, all too often, 
wastelands are left with unproductive and still highly 
polluted pools in the place of former mangroves. 

Pearl collection can be traced back several millennia to 
the pearl divers of the Middle East. However, the farming 
of pearl oysters is more recent, occurring only since the 
techniques for pearl culture were developed. It is now wide- 
spread in a number of reef regions, but most notably with 
the culture of blacklip pearl oysters Piitcuida margaritifera. 
One of the largest producers is French Polynesia, where 
extensive pearl farms have been developed in the lagoons of 
a number of atolls. The oysters, which are filter feeders, are 
suspended in the water column. Thus far no adverse long- 
term effects from these farms have been noted on the sur- 
rounding reefs, although there have been mass mortalities, 
with associated temporary eutrophication of parts of the 
lagoons on a few occasions. 

The culture of particular organisms on the reef flat 
is also increasing. Aquaculture of giant clams (several 
species of the family Tridacnidae) has been developed 
in a number of Pacific islands and in Australia. Farmed 
clams are used both in the aquarium trade and as food, 
both as a high value export and for local consumption. 
Another perhaps more widespread activity in reef flat 
and shallow lagoon areas is the cultivation of algae. 
Seaweeds are used both as a source of food and as a 
raw material from which a group of natural gums are 
extracted for use as thickening or gelling agents, 
including sodium alginate, carrageenin and agar Various 
species are exploited, including Eiicheiima and Sargassiim. 
Algal farming is widespread in countries of the Pacific 
and Indian Oceans, with the largest tropical exporters 
being the Philippines, Indonesia and Tanzania, and it is 



also being developed in some parts of the Caribbean. 
These and other activities clearly impact the natural 
ecosystem function, both through the smothering effect 
by the cultured organism over existing benthic species, 
but also from the trampling of the reef flat. At the same 
time, however, their impact is limited to a small area and 
may be more than countered by the reduced impact on 
other parts of the reef as local communities turn their 
attention to aquaculture. 

Other types of aquaculture in reef regions include the 
rearing of trochus (a mollusc used for food but also an 
important species in the mother-of-pearl industry), and a 
small but growing interest in sponge farming. Efforts are 
also underway to develop techniques for culturing sea 
cucumbers (holothurians). The culture of corals and fish 
for the marine ornamental trade is a more challenging 
activity, and is often undertaken under more controlled 
conditions in large-volume aquaria adjacent to coral reefs, 
or m the importing countries of North America and Europe. 



Other reef products 

Harvesting of reef resources also goes beyond food 
values, and mention has already been made of the use 
of aquaculture for pearl production. The aquarium trade is 
a relatively new use of reefs with significant economic 
importance in some areas (see page 50). Reefs are also 
widely used for the collection of materials for jewellery 
and other ornaments, while the bare materials of the reef 
have often been used as a base for construction. 

Mother-of-pearl ornamentation can be traced back to 
Thebes in Egypt in 3200 BC. and pearls themselves have 
been foimd in China dating back to 2500 BC. While their 








iSftS^^ 




Left: Giant clam Tridacna gigas amidst lines of cages of juvenile clams. I^lariculture of clams is now taking place in a 
number of countries in ttie Pacific. Rigt^t: Sfiells for sale on tf)e streets of tfie Seyctielles. At low levels sucti activities 
may be sustainable. 



Signs of Change 



exact origins remain unclear it is highly likely that reefs 
were being used as one source of such products. The use 
of cowrie shells as currency was another ancient and wide- 
spread utilization, and at least some of them would have 
come from reefs. E.xamples of shell currency have been 
found across Africa and South Asia to China. There is 
evidence of a trade in these shells from India to China from 
records back to 400 AD, while the Maldives became known 
as the Money Islands because of the preponderance of shells 
in those areas. Cowries were widely used m some cultures 
into the mid- 19th century. 

The jewellery and curio industry 

Pearls and coral are still widely harvested today for 
international trade. For pearls, the development of aqua- 
culture techniques has greatly influenced the value and 
geographic spread of pearl culture. Today the pearl 
industry is dominated by Australia (especially Western 
Australia). Japan and French Polynesia, but pearl aqua- 
culture is widespread across island locations in the Pacific 
and there is a continuing small-scale natural pearl industry, 
notably in India. 

Corals, particularly red pink and black, are widely used 
in the jewellery industry, and in many cases this use can be 
traced back to antiquity. While these corals are not restricted 
to coral reef regions, reefs are a major source, particularly 
for black corals. This industry was unsustainable in many 
countries and, like the trade in scleractinian corals (see box 
on the aquarium trade on page 50). is now strictly regulated 
under CITES. The USA is again the major consumer of 
these products, while Taiwan and the Philippines have 
tended to dommate the export statistics. Within the USA - 
in the Hawaiian islands - there is also a substantial black 




coral harvest. This is relatively well managed, with a 
minimum size restriction preventing overutilization. 

The use of turtle shell was once very popular in 
jewellery and other decorative ornaments, but the scarcity 
of marine turtles combined with strict controls on the 
trade in turtle products has now greatly reduced the size 
of this trade. 

Building materials 

The earliest structures to have been built from coral and 
reef rock were probably walls and pens associated with 
the capture of fish, but there is also a long tradition of 
removing materials from coral reefs and nearby lagoons 
and sand flats, particularly for building purposes. The use 
of coral rock in the construction of stone buildings also 
goes back many centuries, notably in houses along the 
Red Sea and in the Maldives. 

Today reef rock is still widely used in the Maldives, 
and in other coralline island nations where there is no 
other natural building material. Similarly, sand and reef 
rock are often dredged from reef flats and lagoons for 
the construction industry, despite the immediate conse- 
quences that such actions have on the reefs and nearby 
beaches. Apart from high levels of siltation which often 
smother and kill the adjacent reefs, the extraction of 
sand and rock frequently leads to coastal erosion and to 
the massive costs associated with trying to maintain 
or stabilize the coast, or to losses associated with the 
collapse of buildings and roads into the sea. In many areas 
the reef flat is also used as a location for land reclamation. 
Such activity frequently leads to the partial or complete 
loss of live corals on the adjacent fringing reef On the 
Egyptian coast of Hurghada the entire fringing reef has 
been killed as hotels have encroached it. This reef was one 
of the main attractions of this coastline, but tourists must 
now travel by boat to see coral reefs which were once 
thriving just a few meters from their hotel beds. 



Genetic treasure house 

The genetic diversity to be found on reefs is unparalleled. 
Furthermore, within the ecological complexity of the reef 
there are countless examples of interactive evolutionary 
processes that have driven genetic diversification down 
interesting and potentially valuable paths from a human 
perspective. In such a world, the evolution of complex 
secondary metabolites is common, particularly the deve- 
lopment of toxins as a means of defense or attack. Such 
compounds may be mirrored by the evolutionary 
development of other chemicals to counter their impacts. 
Toxins are of particular interest in pharmaceutical 
research, and the coral reef abounds in such substances. 
Stonefish, sea snakes, box jellyfish, cone shells and 
pufferfish contain some of the most toxic compounds 



A wall of coral rock, Maldives. 



54 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



known to date, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. 
Huge numbers of species, but particularly the sessile or 
slow-moving invertebrates such as sponges, bryozoans, 
ascideans and nudibranchs. contain a vast panoply of 
complex and potent chemical compounds. 

Traditional societies have used compounds from 
the reefs in traditional medicine and, while perhaps the 
majority of examples are lost and forgotten, there are 
some, such as the use of terebellid worms in Hawai'i and 
of rabbitfish gall bladders in Palau, which indicate 
ongoing perceived benefits from the active properties of 
particular species. 

Bioprospecting for potential new pharmaceuticals 
has been ongoing in terrestrial environments for many dec- 
ades but is still relatively new in the marine environment. 
Now, however, considerable efforts are being put into 
gathering and screening new genetic materials from coral 
reefs. Anti-cancer properties are being investigated in a 
number of products derived from marine life, including 
cryptophycins from blue-green algae, and other metabolites 
from planktonic dinoflagellates. Pseudopterosins derived 
from Caribbean sea-whip corals are being investigated 
for skincare and anti-inflammatory properties. The com- 
pound manoalide. derived from a Pacific sponge, has now 
spawned more than 300 chemical analogues being tested 
for anti-inflammatory properties. Initial tests on a neuro- 
toxin derived from a Pacific marine snail are showing very 
powerful painkilling properties. These are only published 
examples: there are likely to be many others under deve- 
lopment which remain undisclosed to the wider public. 

Such activities are not without controversy. There is 
concern that host countries may lose ownership and a 
share of any profits from new pharmaceuticals or other 
compounds developed by the drug companies. There is 
also concern that collection of more unusual and rare 
species may actually impact the global populations of 



these species. In both cases these problems can be solved 
with detailed management and cooperation. 

The value of coral reefs as a standing stock of genetic 
diversity is considerable, but in many ways this value is 
potential, just beginning to be utilized. For this reason it is 
almost impossible to value in an economic sense, but the 
benefits could be vast. 



Tourism and recreation 

Coral reefs are among the most visually impressive habitats 
on the planet, burgeoning with life and dazzling with color. 
Despite this, the visual appreciation of these habitats is a 
recent phenomenon. The first use of modern mask, fins and 
snorkel can be traced back to the Mediterranean in the 
1920s and 1930s, while the development of the first fully 
automatic aqualung and regulator did not occur until 1942. 
Diving as a popular activity began to spread in the 1950s, 
and probably the first diving club in the tropics was 
established in Jamaica in 1957. In less than 50 years diving 
has grown from being an obscure (and dangerous) sport to 
being one of the worlds most popular adventure activities. 
PADI, the world's largest diver certification organization, 
provided certification for over 800 000 divers in 1999, and 
has provided certification for over 8 million divers since its 
establishment. Worldwide there are now over 15 million 
recreational divers, certified under the various existing dive 
training organizations. 

Just as the sport of diving has developed, the concept 
of rapid and relatively cheap international travel and 
the economic boom and development of many countries 
around the world have led to tourism becoming one of the 
world's most important industries. These two factors have 
combined, and coral reefs are the favored destination of 
amateur divers around the world. In addition to certified 
divers, many millions more undertake single dives, enjoy 




Divers pay premium prices for close encounters with charismatic creatures such as this loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta. 



Signs of Change 



snorkelling over reefs, or view the reefs from glass- 
bottomed boats. As a part of the present work an entirely 
new dataset has been compiled, listing dive centers which 
offer certified dive training in all the coral reef areas 
of the world. These centers are shown on the detailed 
maps in the second section of the book, but are broadly 
illustrated here, showing that there are now few areas of 
the world where it is not possible to dive on coral reefs. 

Tourist numbers to particular reefs can be very large 
indeed. In 1985 there were around 1.1 million visitors per 
year going to the Great Barner Reef in Australia, but by 
1995 this figure was over 10 million. In 1997, the value of 
this tourism to the Great Barrier Reef was estimated at 
over US$700 million. In a much smaller area, the boom 
of tourism in the southern parts of the Egyptian Sinai 
Peninsula is vast, with numbers of tourist rooms increasing 
from under 600 in 1988 to over 6 000 by 1995, and 16 000 
by 1999. Visitor numbers in many parts of the Caribbean 
are often even greater Calculations of the total value of 
tourists to reef areas are difficult. While direct spending 
may include hotels, diving and park fees, the indirect 
spending on associated travel, subsequent travel to other 
areas within a country, or other activities undertaken as part 
of a tourist package, may more than double the total value 
of this tourism to a country or region. It also provides 
considerable employment in a range of sectors (hotels, 
diving, fishing), as well as presenting a strong incentive for 
the sound management of reef resources. 

For the most part, scuba diving is a recreational 
activity only enjoyed by the relatively wealthy, and there 
exists, in many places, a considerable dichotomy between 
those who enjoy coral reefs as a place for recreation and 
those who may be resident in coral reef areas, but are 
unable to do likewise. In a few places considerable efforts 
are being made to develop a greater appreciation and under- 
standing of coral reefs among those resident people who 



are unable to afford expensive holidays or diving. As such 
an appreciation is developed so local recreation on coral 
reefs is likely to increase, and with this a desire to protect 
reefs not only because of their economic value, but also 
their great beauty and high recreational potential. 



Coastline protection 

Many of the worlds reefs can be traced as narrow strips 
running like colorful barriers close to tropical coastlines. 
These barriers have a critical role to play in defending 
those same coastlines from the daily pounding of waves 
and the scouring of currents and, even more important, 
the worst ravages of storms. Despite the apparently fragile 
nature of the individual corals, reefs are able to grow in 
highly wave-swept environments and gradually build up 
the vast structures which buffer and defend the coastline. 
In fact the reefs not only protect coastlines from the worst 
excesses of storm damage, but are also the source of sand 
which builds up or replenishes beaches. 

During the biggest storms many corals may be broken 
up, but the coral rubble and sand are often forced up 
during these same storms into islands or onto beaches, 
creating new land. The presence of vegetation on these 
small islands produces organic deposits, while the roots, 
together with various chemical and mechanical processes, 
may further help to bind the substrate, creating habitable 
islands, permanently raised above sea level. Some nations, 
consisting only of these small coral islands, are wholly 
dependent on these processes for their very existence. 

This function of reefs is again difficult to quantify 
in terms of its value. Furthermore, in the short run, the 
ecological degradation of a reef may not greatly impair this 
function, although there is good evidence that the powers of 
erosion are relatively rapid and that a dead reef will begin to 
lose even its physical structure within years or decades. 



Map 2.1: Dive centers 





(^■'[ 









. I 









r^. 



Coral reefs • Dive centers 



56 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Threats to reefs 




Coral reefs in their natural state have often been 
considered as highly stable ecosystems with their 
tight ecological complexity protecting a finely 
balanced and highly sensitive ecosystem. Even minor 
changes to the species balance, it is suggested, will have 
repercussions across the ecosystem. Other ecologists have 
challenged this view and pointed to the many apparently 
catastrophic events which are regular occurrences on 
some of the world's reefs. There is evidence that certain 
levels of disturbance, such as physical damage from major 
storms, or even the impacts of diseases, may actually be of 
benefit to a reef ecosystem over the longer term. Without 
the constant shifts and changes of conditions which these 
natural events produce, conditions might favor particular 
species to the detriment of others, and diversity on the 
reefs might be reduced. Arguments about the true stability 
and complexity of interrelationships on coral reefs will 
continue for many years, but it remains clear that reefs 
have survived and even thrived in areas where disturbance 
can be a regular occurrence. Unfortunately, it is equally 
true that recent decades have created levels of stress to 
coral reefs that are unprecedented in the recent history of 
the planet. These human disturbances are not only intense, 
but are widespread in every part of every ocean. In many 
areas they also compound one another, or are further 
exacerbated by natural disturbances. 

The true resilience of coral reefs is now being tested 
to extreme levels over large areas of the planet, and the 



result has been considerable degradation, with loss of 
ecosystem function in many areas. In a few places reefs 
seem to have disappeared completely, and have been 
replaced by other ecosystems of lower diversity and 
productivity. As such changes occur, the many important 
goods and services which the reef formerly provided 
become diminished or are lost. 

Most human-induced impacts fall into four broad 
categories: pollution, sedimentation, overfishing and 
climate change. Direct physical damage presents a fifth 
factor, more limited in spatial extent, but in some cases 
more damaging and irreversible than any of the others. 
The actual effects of these impacts on particular reefs may 
vary. They may be complicated by their interactions with 
one another, or be countered by natural mitigating factors 
or further human intervention. In a few cases, changes or 
apparent degradation on the reefs cannot be directly traced 
to single, or even multiple stressors, and yet there may still 
be a link to human impacts. 

In the following account, the effects of these broad 
categories of stress are first considered. More complex 
phenomena are then addressed independently: the crown- 
of-thorns starfish, the Diadema die-off and the global 
patterns of coral diseases. As threats combine so the 
resulting impacts may be greatly exacerbated. A final sec- 
tion looks at how this may work in practice, and further 
summarizes a recent global study which attempted to map 
the global patterns of stress to the worlds coral reefs. 



Left: Shark fins are being gattiered from around ttie world, predominantly for export to East Asia in a trade whicf) is far 
from sustainable. Right: Coral bleaching has become a widespread phenomenon. In extreme events other species, such 
as this anemone, have also been observed to bleach and die. 



Signs of Change 



Pollution 

The major form of pollution on coral reefs is nutrient 
enrichment, primarily linked to human waste, but also to 
agricultural runoff. Recent decades have seen burgeoning 
human populations in coastal areas close to reefs, and rapid 
urbanization of many societies. Many countries, particularly 
the poorer nations, have failed to develop sewage treatment 
systems able to cope with growing urban areas, and vast 
amounts of sewage enter coastal zones through the drainage 
system or are directly piped into nearshore waters. Even 
away from urban centers, coastal development has occurred 
at a considerable pace. Tourism in particular has led to this 
kind of development. While it is smaller scale, it actively 
seeks out sites immediately adjacent to the coastline, and 
in many cases there is again little or no sewage treatment. In 
addition to sewage pollution, agricultural development in 
many countries has entailed the ennchment of the land with 
nutrients in the form of artificial fertilizers, many of which 
enter the drainage system and are carried to coastal waters. 

The impacts of eutrophication on reefs are complex. 
Typically there are changes in the community structure. 
Algae flourish in situations of high nutrient loads, and 
can overgrow and kill corals or prevent new settlement of 
coral larvae. Algal blooms are also sometimes observed in 
the water column, with the further effect of reducing light 
levels for the corals below. Among the rest of the reef 
community, particle-feeding organisms such as sponges 
and zoanthids may become more common, and plankton- 
eating and herbivorous fish may increase. More subtle 
changes, such as a reduction in the reproductive and 
growth capacity of particular species may also result, but 
may not be immediately apparent. These changes may 
reduce the reef's resilience to further changes or its ability 
to recover from events such as hurricanes. They may also 
affect the sustainable yield of reef fisheries. In extreme 
conditions, nutrient pollution alone is sufficient to kill a 
reef and lead to its replacement by algal communities. 

Toxic pollutants receive less attention and have been 
less well studied. Oil is perhaps the most common pol- 
lutant in many remote areas. Spills have occurred widely 
in coral reef regions. Continuous chronic oil pollution 
results from minor spills or deliberate discharges of oil. 
These occur in oil drilling areas such as the Arabian Gulf, 
and in certain localities such as the Straits of Malacca, the 
Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden and the approaches to 
the Panama Canal, where vessels often discharge ballast 
water or clean out their tanks. Other toxic chemicals are 
released by a large range of industries, including tailings 
from mining. The effects of oil pollution on corals are 
varied. In some cases polluted reefs have shown slightly 
higher mortality rates than unaffected reefs, and the 
reproductive potential of surviving corals is significantly 
reduced. A major spill in Panama led to a decrease in total 
coral cover of 50-75 percent in shallow water reefs. 



Sedimentation 

Reef corals are highly sensitive to the impacts of sediments. 
As sediments hang suspended in the water column they 
block light from the reef below, preventing the growth or 
even survival of corals, particularly in deeper waters. As 
the sediments settle they may smother corals. While corals 
are able to remove sediments, secreting mucus and then 
sloughing this off into the water, such an activity uses 
energy and nutrients. In the long term the smothering effects 
of sediments weakens many corals, reducing growth or 
reproductive potential and leaving them less able to compete 
with other benthic organisms such as algae or filter feeders. 
Even as sediments settle they create a surface which is 
inimical to new coral settlement and growth, while light 
sediments are often resuspended by wave action and hence 
may remain in the system for considerable lengths of time. 
Increasing levels of sediment in coastal environments 
in recent times can be linked to coastal development, 
dredging, land reclamation, and also distant terrestrial 
activities, including deforestation and poor agricultural 
practices. In many cases the intTuences of sedimentation 
and pollution are combined, and the differential impact of 
each is somewhat difficult to determine. Mine tailings 
in Papua New Guinea are reported to have degraded or 
destroyed significant areas of reef around Bougainville, an 
area of little or no nutrient impacts. However, even here 
these impacts may have been exacerbated by toxic com- 
pounds present in the tailings themselves. 



Unsustainable fishing 

Reefs are highly productive ecosystems. It is possible to 
harvest some of this productivity for human consumption, 
without compromising the overall functioning of the reef 
ecosystem, and humans have utilized and depended on 
reefs in this way for millennia. For many traditional cul- 
tures the relationship between local populations and their 
adjacent coral reefs can best be seen as an ecological one, 
where humans play a role as a part of the reef ecosystem. 

Just as with other fisheries, there are limits to this 
utilization. Beyond these limits fish stocks decline and 
catch per unit of effort begins to fall. Fisheries scientists 
regularly talk in terms of maximum sustainable yields, 
although exact figures are difficult to ascertain and may 
be highly variable over space and time. A more cautious 
statistic, which is probably more appropriate for the 
management of poorly understood coral reef fisheries, is 
that of maximum economic yield. This is defined as that 
yield which gives the highest possible economic return for 
the effort expended. This represents a lower total catch 
for the simple reason that catch per unit of effort begins to 
decline as fish stocks begin to be impacted and before the 
maximum sustainable yield is reached. 

Worldwide, reef fish stocks are regularly harvested 



58 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Table 2.1: Target species being decimated for specialist markets worldwide 


Target species 


Notes 


Lobster 


High value, popular in tourist centers and for export, particularly in the Caribbean 


Queen conch 


High value, popular for tourist and local consumption, Caribbean 


Trochus and green snail 


Collected in Pacific islands for meat and mother-of-pearl 




Have become very rare in some islands 


Marine turtles 


Popular food (meat and eggsl, often for local consumption 




Use is now highly restricted in most areas 


Sharks 


Dried fins have very high value and are exported to the Far East 




Sharks are being decimated worldwide, including in coral reef areas 


Sea cucumbers or 


Although there is some local consumption, high value in the Far East has led to 


beche-de-mer 


widespread exploitation across the Indo-Pacific 


Giant clam 


Popular for local consumption and export has led to local extinction in many 




Pacific islands 


Sea urchins 


Certain species again popular in Far East export markets 


Seahorses 


Popularity for Chinese medicine and the aquarium trade has led to widespread 




losses in some areas 


Large groupers and 


These and other very large reef fish have been widely removed from many reef 


Napoleon wrasse 


areas to supply the live fish trade 



beyond sustainable limits. This may not be an entirely 
modern phenomenon. Changes in fish catch from the 
midden records in the Pacific suggest that even millennia- 
old cultures may have overexploited particular stocks. 
The impact of European culture also led to rapid over- 
exploitation of some stocks in the Caribbean as long ago 
as the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Caribbean monk 
seal began its decline towards eventual extinction, and 
major turtle rookeries were decimated. 

Modern society, particularly in the last few decades, has 
greatly increased fishing pressure on reefs. Human popu- 
lations have boomed in almost all coral reef areas. Fishing 
methods have become more effective, and now include 



cheap gears such as mass-produced metal hooks and mono- 
filament line and nets. The means of access to reefs have 
also greatly increased, with outboard motors and modern 
building materials for boats. Refrigeration has also enabled 
the storage of catches taken at remote reefs and the export 
of catches to overseas markets. 

A number of different types of overfishing have been 
recognized. Economic overfishing occurs when fishing 
effort is estimated to be in excess of the maximum 
economic yield and yields per unit of effort are no longer 
maximized. Growth overfishing is recognized as occurring 
when the average size of the target fish is reduced towards 
that of immature individuals. Recruitment overfishing is 



Map 2.2: The 1998 coral bleaching event 





1 "^c -X 



4 :.^. . ... 



.:*.' 



\ 



-r 







Coral reef ^■'"'■'~'" "^»'"'*s»'- Severity of bleaching 

ILowl 1 2 3 Ihigh) 



Signs of Change 



defined as occurring when the size of the adult stock is 
reduced sufficiently to impair recruitment (the important 
role of ex situ recruitment in the reef environment makes 
this stage of overfishing difficult to identify). Ecosystem 
overfishing has been reported where fishing has impacts 
on the wider community structure. In the multi-species 
environment of reef fisheries the concept of "fishing down 
the food chain" is relatively corrimon - when stocks of the 
more popular piscivorous species have been depleted 
fishing effort moves down to planktivorous or herbivorous 
species. One final term has been coined for the most 
heavily fished reefs of all, that of Malthusian overfishing. 
This is seen to occur where there are too many fishers for 
any sustainable form of fishery, but fishing continues, often 
for reasons of poverty or economics, to the detriment and 
sometimes the complete destruction of reef communities. 

Even far from human populations particular species 
may be targets for fishing, and the term "target species 
overfishing" has been coined to describe the focussed 
removal of particular species for special markets. Some 
examples of target species are listed in Table 2.1. The 
key force driving many of these fisheries is economic. 
Extremely high values commanded by particular products 
are supporting the often illegal harvesting of even some of 
the more remote coral reefs around the world. One of the 
major markets is the Far East. There are records of a single 
bowl of shark fin soup costing over US$100, and Hong 
Kong was recorded as importing some 6 400 tons of shark 
fin in 1999, equating to more than 28 million sharks. 

The impacts of fishing are not simply those of over- 
harvesting. Destructive fishing practices have reduced the 
productivity of coral reefs in many areas. These include 
blast fishing and the fish-driving methods of muro-anu 
and paaling already mentioned. Trawling is another 
practice which can affect reefs. Although trawls are not 
dragged over large reef structures it seems likely that 




many smaller coral communities on continental shelves 
have been completely destroyed by large trawl gear in 
recent years. As most of these smaller structures were 
never documented the scale of this loss may never be 
determined. Fishing with poisons may also damage reefs. 
There is some evidence to suggest, for example, that 
sodium cyanide used in the capture of live fish may have 
a detrimental impact on corals. 

Most of these destructive fishing methods lead to the 
flattening or pulverization of the reef substrate, which 
is of critical importance, providing food and shelter for 
countless organisms. By limiting the surface area for coral 
and algal growth and reducing topographic complexity, 
many species are denied the shelter on which they depend. 
Recovery of the reef structure from a single blast may take 
years or decades, and m some of the worst affected areas 
several blasts per hour are being recorded. Although blast 
fishing has been recorded in many countries, including 
parts of the Caribbean and East Africa, it is at its worst, 
and remains widespread, throughout Southeast Asia. 



Climate change and bleaching 

Coral reefs are highly sensitive to climatic intluences and 
appear to be among the most sensitive of all ecosystems to 
temperature changes, exhibiting the phenomenon known 
as coral bleaching when stressed by higher than normal 
sea temperatures. 

Coral bleaching is the term used for a loss of color 
in reef-building corals and the subsequent visibility of 
the underlying (white) skeleton. Reef-building corals 
are highly dependent on a symbiotic relationship with 
microscopic algae (zooxanthellae, see Chapter 1) which 
live within the coral tissues. The bleaching results from 
the ejection of the zooxanthellae by the coral polyps 
and/or by the loss of chlorophyll by the zooxanthellae 
themselves. This reaction of corals has been widely 
observed for many years: corals usually recover from 
bleaching but they can die in extreme cases. 

Bleaching is caused by various types of stress, 
including temperature extremes, pollution and exposure to 
air It is temperature-related stresses, however, which have 
been most widely reported, and are of particular concern 
in relation to climate change. On any given reef slope, the 
normal range of sea temperatures throughout the year is 
narrow - usually about 4°C - though the range of temp- 
eratures tolerated by reef-building corals worldwide is 
much wider (16-36°C). It would appear that corals in 
individual regions and localities have become highly 
adapted to these quite narrow temperature regimes. Studies 
have shown that temperatures of only 1-2°C above the 
normal maximum (threshold temperatures) for a few weeks 
are enough to drive a "mass bleaching" event (where high 
proportions of corals across the reef are bleached). 



The polyps of the boulder star coral Montastrea annularis, each just a few millimeters across. Those to the tower right are 
bleached, while the remainder are mostly their original color, although even the tips of these polyps are beginning to lose 
their color. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Crown-of-thorns starfish 



^^^^^^p^ 




^^^^^^w ^^^"'^^ 




SffiH 


^^1 




^^^ 


S^HB 


H 


^B^^^^B^^^H ^^eT'.'. . ^■■ME 




W^S^MH0^^^^^m 



A crown-of-thorns starfish consuming a branching coral. 

The crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci is a 
large and distinctive starfish which is found across 
the Indo-Paclfic from the Red Sea to the Eastern 
Pacific. Adults can grow up to about 60 centlnneters 
in diameter, and have up to 21 short arms around 
the edge of a wide central disc. The entire dorsal sur- 
face is covered in short, poisonous spines. They feed 
exclusively on live coral. 

For many years crown-of-thorns starfish were 
considered rare, but in the early 1960s the same 
species was observed reaching plague proportions 
on a number of reefs in the Great Barrier Reef In 
Australia. The Initial plague recorded on Green Island 
numbered hundreds of thousands and killed 80 
percent of the coral during the period 1962-64. 
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s new plagues 
were observed In numerous locations throughout 
the Pacific, Including Guam, Japan, Hawaii and 
Micronesia. With each plague up to 95 percent of 
living coral cover was lost. 

A number of theories have been advanced as 
to the cause of these plagues, and as to whether 
they are natural or human-Induced. There is some 
evidence of outbreaks occurring prior to the 1960s, 
although It seems unlikely that these were as 
frequent or widespread as the plagues which have 
occurred since. Three general theories have gained 
particular prominence: 

■ Most plagues have been observed close to high 
Islands, and have followed severe storms. It has 
been suggested that the lower salinities and/or 
higher nutrients associated with terrestrial runoff 



during these storms may favor larval survival and 
massive juvenile recruitment. 

■ Aggregation of adults has been observed following 
destruction of coral areas by storms or other events 
and the concentrated plagues may be a behavioral 
response to these events. 

■ The starfish have a small number of natural 
predators. Including certain pufferflsh. triggerfish 
and emperors, but also the giant triton (a large 
mollusc]. Low populations of these predators have 
been found on some infested reefs and It has been 
suggested that reduced predation might allow 
population explosions of the starfish. 

In reality. It seems likely that any or all of these 
factors could be combined, with high levels of 
recruitment, behavioral aggregation and reduced 
predation all allowing the build-up of massive popu- 
lations capable of destroying a reef. 

Considerable debate has also taken place as 
to whether these plagues are natural or human- 
induced, and again the answer is controversial. 
Forest clearance and agriculture on many island and 
mainland coasts has undoubtedly led to higher rates 
of runoff, creating pulses of low salinity and higher 
nutrient Inputs. Observations of the Great Barrier 
Reef appeared to tally closely with significant 
Increases In fishing efforts, including the popular 
targeting of at least one of the key predators. In 
reality It seems likely that crown-of-thorns outbreaks 
could occur under entirely natural conditions, but 
may now be occurring more frequently as a result of 
human activities. 



Signs of Change 



The long-spined sea urchin 



In 1983 a mass mortality of the long-spined lor 
black-spinedl sea urchin Diadema antillarum was 
first observed In Panama. The cause of the deaths 
remains unclear, although there Is evidence that 
a bacterial pathogen may have been Involved. The 
disease spread rapidly to almost every reef In the 
Caribbean during 1983 and 198A, typically leading to 
the loss of at least 93 percent of the urchins. One 
year later a second wave of the disease swept 
through and removed many of the surviving urchins. 

The Impact of these events has been severe 
across the Caribbean. Diadema was a critical 
grazing herbivore on many reefs. Its loss led to 
massive increases In filamentous and fleshy algae. 
On reefs already impacted by coral disease Isee page 
621 or hurricanes, this proliferation of algae greatly 
slowed or prevented coral recruitment and recovery, 
while even on healthy reefs, the growth of algae 
has led to the deterioration of many coral colonies 
through shading by the rapidly growing algae. It has 
been suggested that overfishing of herbivorous fish 
species in many areas has further encouraged algal 
growth. In most areas there has been little or no 
recovery of Diadema populations. 

Humans have not been directly implicated In the 
cause of this die-off. The sudden appearance of a 
pathogen may be the result of a natural mutation, 
although It could also be linked to the arrival of an 
existing pathogen from another region. In the latter 
case, the first appearance of the disease close to the 
Panama Canal suggests that the pathogen may have 




The long-spined sea urchin Diadema antillarum. 

entered the Caribbean either directly through this 
canal, or In ballast water from a ship. Whether its 
ultimate origins are natural or human-Induced, the 
impacts of this die-off have been exacerbated by 
human activities. High levels of fishing had probably 
already increased the ecological dependence on 
this single species of herbivore prior to this event, 
while continued overfishing is slowing or preventing 
recovery of many reefs as there are few other 
herbivores to take Its place. In many areas, pollution 
and sedimentation may have also raised nutrient 
levels, favoring conditions for rapid algal growth, and 
allowing for the establishment of new. algal- 
dominated communities In many areas. 



Reports of coral bleaching have increased greatly 
since 1979, with all records of mass bleaching occurring 
after this date. The number of coral reef provinces 
(geographic divisions) in which mass bleaching has been 
reported varies widely between years, but shows a close 
correlation with El Niiio Southern Oscillation (ENSO) 
events. The most significant mass bleaching event to date 
was associated with the 1997-98 ENSO event, when there 
were reports of bleaching from all over the world (see Map 
2.2). In certain areas, most notably the Central Indian 
Ocean, this event was followed by mass mortality, where 
up to 90 percent of all corals died over thousands of 
square kilometers, including virtually all reefs m the 
Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago and the Seychelles. 
Although new coral growth has been observed in these 
areas, full recovery fi-om such an event will take many 
years or decades. There is some concern that mortality on 



such a massive scale could lead to local disappearance of 
certain species, driving a loss in diversity and changes in 
community structure. 

Although there are no clear records of mass bleaching 
events prior to 1979, it is possible that such events could be 
rare but recurrent phenomena that reefs have recovered from 
in the past. However, the extent of coral bleaching observed 
during recent ENSO events provides a clear indication of the 
wider long-term impacts of rising sea surface temperatures. 
Although mass bleaching is largely driven by ENSO events 
at the present time, most climate models predict that the 
threshold temperatures which currently drive these events 
will be reached on an annual basis in 30-50 years. 

At both the regional and local level, certain corals 
have adapted to warmer or more variable temperature 
regimes. These include some of the same species that 
have been observed to be highly sensitive to temperature 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



variations in other areas. Such adaptation is clearly seen 
in the reefs of the Arabian Gulf (Chapter 9). Some obser- 
vations of the 1998 event showed local-scale survival of 
corals in a few areas of reef flats and lagoons even in the 
most hard-hit regions. These areas are likely to be subject 
to more extreme temperatures on a regular basis, from the 
reduced water circulation and exposure to solar radiation 
and/or cold conditions in these areas. It remains to be seen 
whether larvae from these corals can recolonize reefs where 
more sensitive corals have died, or whether there is indeed 
sufficient genetic resilience within these species to adapt 
to the continuing increases in temperatures predicted under 
current models of climate change. 

Further concerns compound the problems from rising 
sea surface temperatures. Corals may be placed under 
additional stress by the projected increases in concentra- 
tions of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is believed that 
the presence of aragonite in surface waters will be reduced 
by such increases, and aragonite is an important mineral 
component of the coral skeleton. Lower concentrations 
will reduce calcification rates and skeletal strength, which 
in turn may lead to reduced rates of reef growth and 
weaker skeletal structures. 

All reef development is the result of coral growth 
out-pacing natural processes of erosion, from bioeroding 
organisms and also physical processes such as storms. 



Slower coral growth rates and weaker skeletal structures 
may shift the balance of many reefs from that of gradu- 
ally accreting structures to that of gradually eroding 
structures, and this change will be further compounded 
by increasing rates of sea-level rise. The impacts of this 
will affect not only the coral reef ecosystems, but also 
the long-term survival of island peoples and even of 
entire nations. 



Direct physical impacts 

The threats described thus far are predominantly indirect in 
their action, their impacts working by degrees from subtle 
shifts to more extreme or longer-term impacts. Humans are 
occasionally far more destructive to coral reefs. Dynamite 
fishing has already been mentioned, and is an activity which 
leads to the instantaneous destruction of small patches of 
reef Similar damage is wrought at various scales through a 
number of activities, as listed in Table 2.2. 

Many of these activities are highly localized. But, 
depending on their location, even small impacts may be 
important. This is particularly true of popular tourist areas. 
There have been a number of cases now where insurance 
companies have been forced to compensate extremely 
high sums per square meter of reef damaged where ships 
have grounded in popular recreational areas. Likewise the 



Coral disease 



The first reports of disease affecting scleractinian 
corals did not appear until the early 1970s when 
it was quite shocking to read of rapid tissue degra- 
dation occurring in reef-buildmg corals. In all cases 
there was loss of living tissue and. in many, complete 
mortality of colonies occurred. Since then increasingly 
frequent observations of coral diseases have been 
reported. Diseases have been observed on 106 species 
of coral lincluding some soft corals! on reefs in 5i 
countries around the world. Coral diseases appear to 
be particularly prevalent in the Caribbean. 

Two patterns of disease were described at first, 
both being characterized by a distinctive band, a few 
millimeters to a few centimeters wide, of diseased 
tissue separating healthy tissue from exposed dead 
coral skeleton. Black band disease was observed 
affecting a variety of massive Caribbean corals, 
principally species of Montastrea and Diptoria, 
whereas white band disease was noted on branching 
acroporid corals. 

These bands of infected tissue move across and 



progressively destroy coral tissue at rates of several 
millimeters per day. 

Since the 1970s a plethora of conditions have been 
described as new coral diseases, and many claims 
have been made for the decline in coral reefs due to 
disease. The exact causes of most of these conditions 
remain unclear. Only two have been unquestionably 
linked to a pathogen - aspergillosis la disease of 
gorgonians in the Caribbean! and white plague 
type II. Part of the problem is undoubtedly the diffi- 
culty of finding and identifying pathogens in marine 
organisms, combined with the difficulty of linking any 
such pathogens to specific conditions. 

Despite the uncertainty of the causal agent, it is 
commonly accepted that white band disease has 
been a major contributor to the massive decline in 
Caribbean acroporid corals. For example, palaeo- 
logical studies in Belize documented a disappearance 
of acroporid corals from 70 percent of the coral 
canopy, and replacement by species of Agaricia, 
between 1985 and 1996. While the reasons for the 



Signs of Change 



63 



impacts of direct diver and anchor damage at popular dive 
sites may reduce the real economic value of those sites in 
the longer term. Land reclamation probably has the most 
significant impact in terms of the total area of reef 
destroyed and is one of the few activities that genuinely 
leads to a change in absolute reef area. Building on coral 
reefs has been widespread in many countries, including 
Egypt, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Singapore and a 
number of the smaller Pacific atolls. 

Aside from urban or industrial activities, military 
activities have had a major impact on many coral reefs. 
Military installations exist in a number of coral reef areas, 
including several remote coral islands and atolls. Weapons 
testing grounds and military dumps have also been located 
in such areas. These facilities can have significant impacts 
on the surrounding coral reefs. The reefs of Vieques off 
Puerto Rico and Fallaron de Medinilla in the Northern 
Mariana Islands are still regularly used by the US military 
for target practice, with significant impacts on the 
surrounding reefs. Many other facilities have reclaimed 
areas of reef flat for construction, or have dredged or 
blasted channels for boats. Johnston Atoll has been used as 
a dump for large quantities of hazardous waste, while a 
number of other remote Pacific atolls have been used, 
historically, as testing grounds for nuclear weapons, and in 
a few, high levels of radiation remain. 



Compounded problems 

The different human-induced stresses that impinge on 
coral reefs rarely act in isolation. Climate change appears 
set to produce changes over wide areas of the planet. 
Sedimentation and pollution are often found together, 
resulting from coastal development and changes in 
landuse. The risk of overfishing is equally widespread 
in all areas where human populations are growing. Even 
a single activity, such as the development of a new 
tourist resort, can create such a combination of threats. 
Sedimentation may arise during the clearance of vege- 
tation and building works; to.xic and nutrient pollution 
may result from wastewaters: direct physical damage from 
the construction of jetties or the impacts of boat anchors; 
and fish populations may be impacted in the provision of 
food for guests, staff and dependents. 

Natural impacts, particularly storms, often exacerbate 
these human-induced problems. In Jamaica a number of 
coral reefs have lost so much coral cover that it may no 
longer be accurate to call them coral reefs. Although there 
are records suggesting that chronic overfishing had been 
occurring on these reefs since at least the 1960s (and some 
authors have suggested since the previous century), the 
reefs still maintained high coral cover until Hurricane 
Allen swept over the island in 1980, reducing much of the 
coral to rubble. There was some recovery over the next 



sudden susceptibility of acroporids to white band 
disease is unknown, it was dramatic. Such a shift had 
not occurred in the previous U 000 years. 

A variety of environmental factors appear to 
influence the distribution and virulence of coral diseases, 
as well as the susceptibility of their hosts. Diseases are 
more prevalent in the Caribbean than elsewhere, and 
there also appears to be some sub-regional variation. A 



comparison between the Reefs at Risk data from the 
Caribbean (described on page 651 and the distribution of 
coral diseases reveals that less than 3 percent of the 
locations at which disease has been observed were on 
reefs under low threat from environmentally damaging 
human activities. The possibility therefore exists that the 
incidence of disease may be a suitable bio-indicator of 
disturbance to coral reefs at regional levels. 



Map 2.3: Coral disease 



i / y '. 





'- i&'S --U 






%s^..^^:- 



Coral reef • Coral diseases 



64 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Table 2.2: Major types of direct physical damage to coral reefs 



Activity 

Ship grounding 
Blast fishing 
Weapons testing 

Reef walking 
Diver damage 

Direct smothering 

Anchor damage 

Reef mining 
Dredging/construction 

Land reclamation 



Notes 

Direct impact on relatively small areas of shallow reef 
Individual blasts may only impact a few square meters, but can be frequent 
Remote atolls were used in the early testing of nuclear weapons, some smaller- 
scale damage continues in military testing grounds to the present day 
Tourists and local people walking on reefs can kill coral and flatten the reef matrix 
Coral breakage or death from frequent handling, only a major problem on very 
popular dive sites 

Solid waste, and thicker elements of spilled oil can kill corals through direct 
contact and smothering 

Apart from initial impact, anchors may drag and anchor chains sweep over wide 
arcs, smashing corals over large areas 

Includes direct removal of coral, sand and aggregate for construction purposes 
Dredging of channels and lagoons for ships' passage is common in many reef 
areas, also construction of deep water channels with the blasting of reefs, and the 
construction of jetties or roads over the reef flat 

Perhaps the most complete and irreversible destruction of wide areas of reef, as 
reef flats and shallow lagoons are infilled and converted to land 



two years, but then in 1983 the Diadema die-off (see page 
61 ) killed the majority of these sea urchins in the waters 
all around Jamaica and much of the rest of the Caribbean. 
Jamaica was particularly impacted by the loss of these 
herbivores, as the other large herbivores - fish - had 
already been drastically reduced. Algal cover on the reefs 
increased dramatically, smothering and killing some of 
the remainmg coral cover. It appeared that a new stable 
state had been established. Hurricane Gilbert impacted 
the islands in 1988 and further reduced coral cover, while 
the algae regenerated rapidly. Fleshy macroalgae covered 
92 percent of surveyed "reefs" m the early 1990s. It has 



been suggested that a return to a coral-dominated 
community would require a major increase in herbivory 
and may be impossible in the short to medium term. 

Reports of degradation of the world's reefs are 
widespread from all parts of the ocean, but a detailed 
assessment of the scale and distribution of these losses 
remains impossible. Many reports are anecdotal, while 
vast areas of the world's reefs are beyond the reach of 
scientists to produce even irregular assessments. Various 
efforts are now underway to improve the levels of 
available information. ReefCheck is a global coral reef 
monitoring scheme which has been using volunteer divers 



Map Z.it: Reefs at risk 



-/\ 






'♦JVi.VNel, 



*-''r-*fe^"' 

- =}-4 



^X 



• • Level of risk 

Low Medium High 



Signs of Change 



65 



to assess reef health using standard procedures across 
hundreds of coral reefs worldwide. At the same time, the 
efforts of ReefCheck's partner organization, the Global 
Coral Reef Monitoring Network, have led to regular 
reporting by national experts enabling a parallel overview 
based on expert opinion. Even with these systems, 
however, the possibilities of looking at reefs and assessing 
stress are limited - the majority are only visited by experts 
every few years, and many have never been studied. 



Reefs at risk 

One alternative approach to mapping reef stress is to 
model the threats to reefs using existing datasets, 
combined with expert knowledge on the sensitivities of 
reef ecosystems. In an attempt to undertake such an 
objective global assessment, in 1998 the World Resources 
Institute led a team of organizations and experts to 
construct a global model of the different threats to reefs. 
Data were not available to analyze all the major poten- 
tial human impacts, so the model ignored both climate 
change and direct physical destruction and concentrated 
on what are currently the most widespread and potent 
threats - pollution, sedimentation and unsustainable 
fishing practices. For these, a number of proxy indicators 
were utilized, enabling the development of four main 
threat layers. 

Coastal development (representing the primary 
source of nutrient pollution, but also a source of 
sedimentation): reefs were considered to be threatened by 
a simple proximity measure for population centers of 
varying size, airports, military bases, mmes and tourist 
centers. An estimate of sewage treatment levels was also 
factored into this layer. 

Marine pollution (representing a secondary source 
of mostly toxic pollutants): reefs were considered to be 



threatened according to proximity to major ports, oil tanks 
and wells, and major shipping routes. 

Overexploitation and destructive fishing: the degree 
to which reefs were considered threatened was based on 
their proximity to differing levels of population density. 
Known incidents of destructive fishing were further 
buffered out as a potential threat to the wider reef 
areas nearby. 

Inland pollution and erosion (representing the 
primary source of sedimenl mipacts, but also the important 
pollutants associated with inland and agricultural areas): a 
detailed surface model of "relative erosion potential" was 
developed based on land cover, slope and rainfall. This was 
modelled through the drainage basins to give a measure of 
threat at river mouths, which was then buffered to nearby 
reefs, the distance depending on intensity of input. 

Usmg an earlier version of the reef maps presented 
in this atlas, these threat layers were combined. After a 
number of expert consultations, the refined model produced 
a global map (see Map 2.4). It was estimated that, overall, 
some 58 percent of the world's reefs were under medium to 
high threat. The global figure hides a number of important 
regional patterns clearly illustrated in the map. 

For the Pacific, which harbors the largest proportion 
of the world's coral reefs, the majority are still largely 
unthreatened. But in Southeast Asia, the center of coral 
reef diversity, with many coastal populations heavily 
reliant on the reefs for sustenance, over 80 percent of the 
reefs are considered threatened. The Caribbean, with its 
very high dependence on the coastal tourism industry, has 
over 60 percent under threat. In some cases it can be 
assumed that these reefs are already degraded, but in other 
areas this is a measure of the potential for degradation. In 
reality there are many factors which may compound, or 
may mitigate, the outcome of these threats. One important 
factor is the wise management and utilization of reefs. 



Table 2.3: Reefs at risk ■ 


■ Statistics 


genera 


ed from 


the 


global 


analysis 




Region 




Low 


Proport 


ons 


of reef 


area at different levels of risk (%l 
Medium 


High 


! Middle East 




39 








Ub 


15 


Caribbean 




39 








32 


29 


Atlantic lexcl. Caribbean] 




13 








32 


55 


Indian Ocean 




46 








29 


25 


Southeast Asia 




18 








26 


56 


Pacific 




59 








31 


10 


Global total 




42 








31 


27 


Source: Bryant et al 119981. 

















WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Responses 




Humans need coral reefs. They are of critical value 
to communities and countries around the world, 
not only in economic terms, but also in terms of 
protein supplied to millions of people, m terms of jobs, 
of coastal protection and of recreational value. 

The value of reefs is dependent on their continued 
functioning as ecosystems. It is this alone that maintains 
their worth for coastal tourism and the protection of 
coastlines, and as a store of vast genetic diversity. It is 
also this continued functioning which gives reefs their 
productivity and enables the harvesting of reef resources 
by humans. 

In terrestrial ecosystems our concept of "harvesting" 
or otherwise utilizing "natural" ecosystems is typically 
associated with massive modification. But the sea 
presents a major contrast, as our harvesting of almost all 
the ocean's resources is dependent on the maintenance of 
natural ecosystems as they are. If this harvesting is turned 
to mining, sustainability is lost, and with it food, jobs and 
entire economies. 



The array of threats to reefs has already been 
outlined. The ultimate causes of these threats, or the 
failure to react to them, can in most cases be related back 
to two broad problems: a lack of understanding about 
reefs and a lack of ownership or responsibility for them. 
The lack of understanding works at all levels, from a poor 
scientific knowledge, to the inadequate transmission of 
existing knowledge (scientific or traditional) to decision 
makers and a broader public. Detailed knowledge about 
reefs is actually rapidly improving. We now know a great 
deal about how coral reefs function, and about the con- 
sequences of actions such as blast fishing or pumping raw 
sewage into coastal waters. A large number of monitoring 
programs have been established, using both scientists and 
trained amateurs to amass large amounts of information 
about the status of coral reefs, and how this changes over 
time. Social and economic studies on human communities 
adjacent to reefs are also widespread, and we have a 
clear, though still rapidly evolving, understanding of how 
to manage and sustainably utilize reefs into the future. 



4 sail-powered dhow, a common fishing vessel in East Africa. 



Signs of Change 



67 



With this existing knowledge, powerful facts have 
emerged. A broad swathe of "experts'", including social 
scientists, ecologists, lawyers and economists, hold various 
parts of the same message. Coral reefs are an incredibly 
valuable resource, they can be utilized sustainably, and 
such utilization can bring immediate economic and social 
benefits. There are no examples whatsoever which show 
the contrary. Non-sustainable use of coral reefs, or blind 
degradation by remote actions such as deforestation, poor 
agriculture and pollution, never pays. The social and 
economic consequences are bad in the short term, and 
terrible in the longer term. 

If these facts could be clearly and accurately trans- 
mitted to a global public many of the problems would be 
immediately diminished, but the transmission of know- 
ledge is slow, and too often the managers and decision 
makers, let alone the wider public, are unaware of these 
valuable facts. There remains an urgent need for education 
in all quarters to ensure that the lessons being learned by 
the experts are rapidly passed on to all people who have an 
interest in, or an impact upon, the future of coral reefs - 
from fishers to schoolchildren to government members 
and city dwellers. 

The problem of a lack of ownership and responsi- 
bility for coral reefs is a greater challenge. Lying offshore, 
reefs in almost every country of the world are seen as a 
common resource, available to anyone. Unfortunately, as 
populations have boomed and traditional understanding 
of coral reef utilization has been rapidly lost in many 
areas, so this common access has led to a "tragedy of the 
commons": too many people trying to exploit a shared 
resource. There is no incentive for fishers to reduce their 
catch if all others will not do the same. As the number of 
fishers increases and fishing methods become more 
efficient, so the pressures on reefs become unsustainable. 
Open access and common ownership becomes a free- 
for-all, as people try to grab as much as possible before 
anyone else does. 

The lack of ownership at a community level also typi- 
cally means that there are few concerted efforts by those 
using the reefs to control external factors impinging on 
"their" resources. In terrestrial ecosystems it is unthinkable 
that another individual, company or community should be 
allowed to dump raw sewage or industrial waste onto a 
neighbor's grazing land, or to smother it with sediments, 
preventing the growth of new grass. This is precisely what is 
happening to coral reefs, but because they are a common 
resource, and because they lie below the water surface, 
invisible to the wider public, little or nothing is done. 

There are thus a number of key responses to address the 
problems facing reefs. Study and research into ecological 
functions, human interactions and management techniques 
must continue. At the same time the transference of existing 
knowledge must be a priority. Finally, to deal directly with 



the real problems facing reefs on the groimd there must be 
management interventions to reconcile the issues of pro- 
tecting a common resource. The remainder of this chapter 
looks at a number of the management interventions now 
being widely put into practice. 

In many countries active reef management is not new. 
Many of the lessons now being learned have, in fact, been 
known and put into practice in traditional societies 
adjacent to reefs for centuries or millennia, and some 
of these continue to be the most effective means of 
protecting coral reefs to the present day. For most 
countries, however, new management regimes have to 
be developed from scratch. Complex negotiations with a 
broad multiplicity of reef users and adjacent communities 
are a major part of designing systems to protect coral 
reefs, and to enable their continued existence and 
continued contribution to human society. Measures 
include controls on fishing activities or fishing methods, 
wider controls on human activities, and the partitioning 
of the reefs themselves, establishing protected areas or 
more complex systems across entire coastal zones. Such 
measures, effectively applied and with community 
support, are already being seen to have spectacular results, 
reversing declines and providing a considerable support 
to coastal communities. In most places, however, the 
challenges are still enormous, and it remains to be seen 
how much more will be brought back from the brink 
amidst the spiralling challenges of population growth 
and climate change. 



Traditional management 

Humans have used reefs as a source of food for millennia. 
As this has become more intensive so systems of control 
have developed, including cultural controls, taboos, pat- 
terns of reef ownership, closed seasons and restrictions on 
types of fishing gear. The best examples, some of which 
still exist, are to be found in the Pacific islands. 

Perhaps the most widespread and often highly 
effective form of reef management is customary tenure, 
where reefs, or the reef fish and other resources, are the 
property of particular communities. The consequences of 
such ownership are considerable, especially in cohesive, 
traditional communities. Under restricted ownership it is 
entirely in the interest of the reef's owners not to overfish. 

Within these areas of customary tenure many 
additional rules, traditions and customs have arisen which 
provide considerable further controls. In many cases 
certain areas are closed to fishing for given periods, or 
even permanently. The placing of taboos on certain reefs 
is still common in some countries, closing them to use for 
periods of months or even years. Other traditions have 
prevented permanent use of certain resources or eating of 
certain species. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Table 2. A: Restrictions in regular use worldwide as a means of controlling levels of fishing 
on coral reefs 



Legal measure 

Licensing 



Gear restrictions 

Species protection 
Catch restrictions 



Seasonal restrictions 
Area restrictions 



Notes and examples 

Placing some degree of control over the numbers of fishers or vessels entering a 

fishery by requiring possession of a license, and perhaps further restricting the 

granting of such licenses, for example, to local community members 

Limiting the types or amounts of fishing gear which may be used; restricting 

the numbers or design of fish traps; restricting or prohibiting the use of 

particular lines, nets or trace; prohibiting the use of scuba equipment in lobster 

fisheries 

Complete prohibition on the capture of particular species or species groups, often 

rare species such as clams, lobsters, butterflyfish. sharks 

Total numbers caught may be restricted on a daily basis, or per fisher tvjinimum 

size limits are often set for species such as lobster to ensure they reach breeding 

size before capture 

Closing particular fisheries for certain periods of the year 

The closure of particular designated areas to certain activities, or to all fishing 



An understanding of the reef environment is as 
important for traditional management as it is for any other 
form of management, and such knowledge in traditional 
societies can be considerable. For example, the spawning 
cycles and locations of many species of fish are well 
known. While such knowledge is useful for the exploit- 
ation of species it has also often led to restrictions. In 
certam villages on Palau it was forbidden to catch certain 
species offish at their spawning sites, while other species 
were protected on their first day of spawning, but could be 
caught subsequently. Turtles were often only allowed to be 
caught after they had already laid one or more batches of 
eggs, and similarly only a certain proportion of the eggs 
could be harvested. Certain easily caught species could 
not be harvested during fair weather conditions, ensuring 
a supply when it was not possible to use boats during 
storms, or when fishing was poor. 

In many societies further restrictions have provided 
different rights to particular social groups. In Yap in the 
Caroline Islands, Micronesia, traditional societies once 
operated on a complex hierarchy. Women and children, 
together with certain members of "lower" classes were 
only allowed to use simple fishing gears, and could only 
fish in rivers and tide pools; a wider group of individuals 
could use various techniques including hook and line and 
traps; certain techniques required involvement of the 
wider community; while there were also methods, such as 
net fishing from canoes and trolling behind the reef, 
which were restricted to prestigious members of society. 

The influence of Western culture has radically altered 
many traditional societies. New fishing gears, including 



metal hooks, monofilament lines and lightweight nets, 
were among the first introductions, rapidly changing the 
effectiveness of fishing techniques. Subsequently there 
has been a more gradual erosion of cultural and traditional 
values, in many places supported by colonization or by 
efforts to embrace Western lifestyles and government. In 
some areas, even in the remote Pacific islands, all 
methods of traditional management have been lost, 
however elsewhere they remain, and in a number of 
countries there are now increasing efforts to recognize 
customary marine tenure within national constitutions. 
Where this is taking place there is, to varying degrees, a 
reawakening of the potential for reef management at 
village level. Under such systems the implementation 
of more Western styles of reef management, including 
legally gazetted protected areas or coastal zone manage- 
ment systems, may be inappropriate or even impossible. 



Legal controls 

The use of the legal system as a means to control 
individual actions which are known to damage reefs is 
widespread. To be effective, legal measures require 
enforcement. While this can be done through intensive 
policing, many of the world's reefs are too remote, and 
many countries too poor to carry out such expensive 
activities. Increasing awareness of this problem has led 
some countries to legislate more generally, while 
developing more detailed control measures at the local 
level in collaboration with local communities. Such 
approaches enable important education of these com- 



Signs of Change 



69 



munities and often lead to a sense of ownership, both of 
the common resources and of the regulations, which are 
perceived more clearly to be for their own benefit. 

Fishing activities are among those most commonly 
controlled by legal measures. As an extreme example, 
blast fishing is now illegal in every country where it is 
known to occur. Other fishing controls are also widely 
used in some countries, and a number of these are listed 
in Table 2.4. 

As tourism grows and diving and snorkelling become 
widespread so a number of measures may be taken to 
restrict activities, with regulations prohibiting such actions 
as spearfishing or anchoring boats in coral reef areas. 
Pollution controls are also of increasing importance, 
particularly in areas under development for tourism. 
Many new developments now require the undertaking 
of environmental impact assessments prior to getting 
permission to build, and there are growing numbers of 
laws governing new buildings, including measures such as 
proximity to the sea and sewage treatment. 

Most of the legislation designed directly to deal with 
coral reef protection is focussed toward the immediate or 
adjacent threats, but many of the problems facing coral 
reefs are actually derived from quite remote activities. 
Here too, however, legislation can be utilized which may 
be directly linked to coral reef protection, but may also 
have wider applications. Policy or legislation to control 
sewage and other pollution is one such example, while 
another may be various efforts to control agricultural 
or forestry practices. The prevention of clear felling of 
forests on steep slopes or in buffer zones close to rivers 
is a clear example, often enacted to prevent soil erosion, 
but also having positive consequences for coral reefs at 



some distance away. One of the most widespread legal 
mechanisms for protecting coral reefs is the designation of 
protected areas, and this is considered separately in the 
following section. 

Marine protected areas and no-take zones 

The earliest examples of setting aside areas for con- 
servation are predominantly terrestrial. Sacred forests and 
royal hunting grounds dating back many centuries are 
scattered across Europe and Asia. In the marine realm, the 
earliest protected areas were probably some of the reefs of 
the Pacific, where local communities or community chiefs 
placed restrictions or total bans on fishing. The growth 
of legally declared marine protected areas outside such 
traditional systems is, in comparison, a more recent 
phenomenon, with only a few sites declared by the end of 
the 19th century. 

Strict definitions of marine protected areas vary. One 
of the most widely used, and one of the broadest, is 
provided by lUCN-The World Conservation Union, which 
states that a marine protected area is "any area of intertidal 
or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and 
associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, 
which has been reserved by law or other effective means 
to protect part or all of the enclosed environment". Such a 
definition includes sites such as mangrove forests, even 
if they do not incorporate open sea, but it also leads to 
the inclusion of sites which are predominantly terrestrial, 
simply because they include small areas of intertidal land. 
The maps throughout this atlas show the locations of all 
marine protected areas, but the associated data tables in 
the text list only those with coral reefs. 

These sites have been established for a number of 




Market research has shown that clivers, many of whom spend thousands of dollars on dive vacations as well as on diving 
and photographic equipment, are enthusiastic supporters of entrance fees which are used for the maintenance of marine 
protected areas. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



purposes, and cover a broad range of management 
regimes, from strict protection for the total preservation of 
natural ecosystem processes, to the measured and inter- 
active management of a seascape with multiple human 
uses, through to a fisheries protection role within a wider 
system of fisheries management. 

Overall, the majority of existing coral reef protected 
areas have been established with nature conservation as 
their primary motive. Scientists and non-governmental 
organizations (NGOs) have been key in driving for the 
designation of such sites, while commitments at national 
and international levels have strongly encouraged govern- 
ments to act to set aside areas for biodiversity conservation. 

In reality, sites which are established without broader 
consideration of local communities, and without clearly 
accounting for the various costs and benefits involved 
in their establishment, are invariably met with opposition, 
or simply ignored. A great many of the sites listed as pro- 
tected around the world are poorly managed or ineffective. 
"Paper parks" are a very real problem worldwide. These 
are sites with a legal status, but are unmarked and often 
forgotten on the ground. 

Without adequate management many of the threats 
facing parks will continue or increase. With the exception 
of remote sites and some privately protected areas, any 
such management requires endorsement and support from 
adjacent communities, while this in turn usually requires 
recognition of clear economic benefits. Thus, although 
biodiversity protection may be the driving force behind 
the protection of sites, the inost successful attempts at 
developing it have considered other issues, most notably 
recreational and fisheries values. 

Protected areas and fisheries 

Overfishing is a problem on reefs worldwide. In the areas 
where it occurs, the dependence of local communities on 



reefs is often higher than anywhere else and so, while 
control of fishing activities is urgently needed, it is also 
particularly difficult to apply. Many protected areas have 
failed and been ignored as poverty and the basic need for 
food or income have driven people to continue utilizing 
these sites for fishing. 

Against this background, recent initiatives have 
focussed very heavily on community involvement. A num- 
ber of small areas within fishing grounds have been set 
aside where strict rules of no-take are applied, with full 
community cooperation. The results have been quite 
remarkable. In sites such as Apo Island in the Philippines 
and the Hoi Chan Marine Reserve in Belize, fish stocks in 
reserves have grown rapidly in number, while individuals 
of particular species have also reached considerable sizes. 
This abundance leads to a significant net export of fish 
from the reserve area, and yields immediately adjacent 
to the reserve (where the fishers, of course, now choose to 
fish) have boomed. The social and economic arguments 
are incontrovertible. Within only a year or two of the 
closure of an area to fishing, the total yields from the 
wider fishing grounds around these and many other sites 
around the world have risen, and continue towards a 
plateau of higher and more sustaimble yields after five 
or ten years. Further economic benefits have been gained 
from tourism in a number of these no-take zones. The 
high fish abundance makes for very popular dive sites, 
and carefully managed tourism has little or no impact on 
their continuing function as fish reserves. 

Protected areas and tourism 

In many areas around the world the economic and social 
values associated with tourist arrivals are beginning to 
compete with, or even outweigh, the value of reefs for 
fisheries. Reef-based tourism is attracting millions of 
divers per year, and these tourists will often select their 



Map 2.5: The global distribution of marine protected areas containing coral reefs 







'V-.. 



Coral reef D • Marine protected area containing coral reef 



Signs of Change 



location and pay more to observe undamaged reefs. The 
value of tourism has been critical for some sites in 
providing direct income for management and enforcement 
activities. For example, user fees in the marine parks on 
Saba and Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles provided 
60-70 percent of the annual park running costs in 1999, 
with much of the remainder being provided by sales of 
souvenirs and yacht fees. Even where such direct benefits 
cannot be calculated, however, the income provided to 
individual hotels, dive companies and national economies 
from dive tourism is clearly enhanced in many countries 
by the presence of protected areas. 

Multiple-use protected areas 

Small protected areas are relatively simple to designate 
and manage, but in many areas fail to address the complex 
problems facing coral reefs. Most reefs are utilized by a 
broad range of "stakeholders", often with widely differing 
or conflicting requirements. Another approach to coral 
reef management has been the designation of typically 
very large areas, within which zones or sectors are marked 
out for different uses. 

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the largest 
coral reef protected area in the world, and is the best 
known multiple-use protected area. Designated in 1979 
it covers some 344 800 square kilometers. In fact the 
majority of the park area is open to a considerable range 
of activities, including trawling and most other fishing 
methods. About 21 percent of the park is closed to 
trawling and, included in this, about 5 percent (but 12 
percent of the reefs) is closed to all fishing. In fact the 
system of zoning also has restrictions on all access in 
"preservation zones" and "scientific research zones", and 
other fisheries restrictions including areas of periodic or 
seasonal fisheries closures. The size of this park ensures 
the integrated management of the largest interconnected 
reef system in the world. It provides a clear example of 
a holistic approach to reef management, with a clearly 
planned subdivision of reef zones. It has benefited from 
having a powerful and independent management authority, 
but has also made considerable progress in recent years 
through the encouragement of wide public participation in 
the planning and management process. 

At a much smaller scale, the Soufriere Marine 
Management Area in St. Lucia provides an example of 
how the same principles of zoning and multiple use may 
be applied in developing countries. This area covers 1 1 
kilometers of the western coastline of the island. It was 
developed following a long period of public consultation, 
and legally established in 1994. Zones set aside particular 
areas for recreation, yacht anchoring, marine reserves 
(with no fishing, but diving and/or diving permitted with 
a ticket) and also fishing priority areas (typically adjacent 
to the marine reserves). Since 1999 the armual fees paid 



by the 6 300 divers and 3 600 visiting yachts have made 
the management authority self-financing. Fish biomass 
has tripled in the marine reserve areas, and fishers are 
reporting increased yields from the adjacent fishing 
priority areas. 

International designations 

While the vast majority of protected areas are established 
at the national or even local level, a large number of 
important sites around the world are receiving inter- 
national recognition through a number of global and 
regional agreements and conventions. The best known 
and most widely applied of these are the Convention 
on Wetlands of International Importance especially as 
Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention), the Convention 
Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural 
Heritage (World Heritage Convention), and the UNESCO 
Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. 

Originally focussed towards waterfowl protection, 
the Ramsar Convention has been highly successful, with 
thousands of sites designated worldwide, and active 
encouragement of the inclusion of marine sites. Member 
states are required to identify and conserve sites con- 
sidered to be of international importance, which according 
to the convention includes sites to a depth of 6 meters 
below sea level. Some 20 sites have thus far been desig- 
nated which include coral reefs. 

The World Heritage Convention focusses towards the 
identification and protection of areas of "outstanding and 
universal value", including both cultural and natural sites. 
Acceptance on the World Heritage List is only awarded 
to sites after a rigorous selection process. Thus far some 
18 sites have been declared which include coral reefs. 

UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme is not 
a strict convention, but a scientific program under the 
auspices of the United Nations Educational. Scientific 
and Cultural Organization. Under this program biosphere 
reserves are designated to encourage a broad range of 
objectives tying together humans and their environment. 
Sites therefore typically encompass management towards 
sustainable utilization, research, monitoring and bio- 
diversity conservation. They also serve an important 
role as demonstrations of human interaction with the 
environment. To date some 17 sites have been declared 
which include coral reefs. 

In the majority of cases these international designations 
are applied to sites which are already protected under 
national legislation. International recognition remains very 
important for a number of reasons. It provides an additional 
"layer" of legal protection, which can further restrict dam- 
aging activities, or attempts by national governments to 
allow, or ignore, damaging activities. It can provide support 
for the management and maintenance of sites, allowing the 
networking of managers, the sharing of ideas, and often 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 





Figure 2.1: The development of 


a global network of coral reef protected areas s 


nee 1930 

The cumulative total 












1 000- 






[-600 


(U 


number of coral reef 










"3) 


protected areas plotted 




900- 


— o 
o 


- 




o 


over the cumulative area 




800- 


■ 


1 Total area ^fl 


-500 


o 

Z 


protected. These area 
statistics are the total 




700- 
600- 


■ 


^1 

1 No. ^^^^K 


-400 




area of these sites, only a 
small proportion of which 
is actually coral reef. The 
declaration of tvt/o sites, 




500- 


- 


^^- 


-300 




in Australia in 1997 
(Great Barrier Reef) 




400- 


_ 








and Havt/ai'i in 2000 




300- 


- 


. 


/ 


-200 




(Northvi/estern Hawaiian 
Islands) greatly affected 
the total area of 




200- 


- 


jA 




-100 




protected coral reefs. 




100- 


- 


,^^^1 








NB Data are only included 
where the total area and 
date of designation are 
known. There are about 
100 additional sites not 




19 


1 1 1 1 1 

30 35 40 45 50 55 


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - 

60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 2000 
Year 












included in this figure. 











further logistical or financial support for specific activities. 
It also provides recognition and prestige, often raising 
the profile of important sites and habitats in particular 
countries, but also serving to draw international interest. 



Worldwide protection 

Until the lydUs there was only a very small number of 
protected coral reefs, but from about this time onwards 
there has been a dramatic increase in numbers, as illus- 
trated in Figure 2.1. At the close of 2000 there were over 
660 marine protected areas which included coral reefs. 
These range m size from tiny marine reserves to two of the 
world's largest protected areas. The total area of these sites 
is more than 900 000 square kilometers, but three quarters 
of this area lies in only two sites, the Great Barrier Reef 
Marine Park and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral 
Reef Ecosystem Reserve. Unfortunately, these area fig- 
ures cannot be equated with the reef area statistics 
presented in the previous chapter as the great majority 
of these sites include large areas of non-coral. Without 
boundary details for many sites in any global database, it 
is not yet possible to accurately calculate the proportion of 
the world's coral reefs which are protected. However, this 
total is likely to be quite high if Australia and the USA are 
included, but significantly lower otherwise. 

Looking at a map of the global distribution of these 
sites (Map 2.5) it is clear that, while there are protected 
areas in all regions, a number of regions stand out as 
having relatively few. This would include much of the 



Middle East, with the exception of the northern Red Sea, 
but also the Pacific islands. In the latter, the urgency of 
establishing more protected areas is lower because of the 
existence of traditional management systems, as well as 
the overall lack of intense human pressures on many of 
these reefs. 

A partial solution 
These statistics and maps show that there is now a 
considerable network of protected areas containing coral 
reefs, and the number of sites within this network is 
growing fast. Coral reefs thus appear to be well protected 
in comparison with other ecosystems, although there are 
problems with such an assessment. First and foremost, 
many of these parks are ineffective. In countless cases 
worldwide, perhaps even the majority of sites, these pro- 
tected areas are weakly enforced or completely ignored. 
Many others are weak in legal terms. These include a 
number of sites which are essentially terrestrial parks, but 
with a marine component. While their boundary includes 
marine areas, the legislation contains few or no provisions 
for protection of marine resources, and fishing and other 
activities continue unabated. 

While direct comparisons between terrestrial pro- 
tected areas and their marine counterparts are easily made, 
there are important differences. Most important is that 
many terrestrial sites are effectively fenced off from their 
surroundings, and are to some degree self-sustaining. By 
contrast the fluid environment of the coral reef cannot be 
ring- fenced. Most coral reefs are part of a large and tightly 



Signs of Change 



interconnected coral reef realm. Two points arise: firstly 
that individual reefs may actually be dependent on other 
reefs "upstream" for the provision of larval recruits and 
the maintenance of diversity; and secondly that legal 
protection of particular reefs provides little protection 
from external threats such as pollution and sedimentation 
originating elsewhere. 

In a few cases marine protected areas are of sufficient 
size to have some potential to be self-sustaining, while a 
similarly small number of sites include both coral reefs 
and sufficient areas of the adjacent land to provide sig- 
nificant protection from sedimentation and pollution. 
Even Australia's Great Barrier Reef is affected by ter- 
restrial activities occurring beyond the park boundaries. 
Protected areas, particularly in the marine environment, 
cannot be considered sufficient in themselves. They are 
part of the solution, but are most effective when placed 
within the context of a broader suite of coastal policy 
and planning measures, including wider legal measures 
(for example on land-based activities), but also programs 
on awareness raising and education. The concepts of 
integrated coastal zone management are increasingly 
being embraced in countries around the world, but before 
considering these, a brief overview of other systems or 
regimes which provide protection to coral reefs is laid out. 



Other approaches 

In addition to the conventional designation of protected 
areas with some legal status, a number of other coral reefs 
around the world receive some degree of protection from 
other regimes or factors. 

Private ownership: private protected areas are rare in 
the marine environment, as few countries allow for private 
ownership of marine resources, but there are a number 
of privately owned coastal sites, including entire islands, 
which provide some degree of de facio protection of their 
adjacent marine resources. 

Private and NGO initiatives: these have led to the 
adoption of codes of practice, or even the recognition 
of voluntary reserves in a number of areas. Recognizing 
the importance of the coral reef resources to their own 
business, it is now relatively common to see dive organi- 
zations setting restrictions on their own customers" 
activities (such as banning fishing, or fish feeding, and 
ensuring adequate buoyancy control so that divers do not 
touch the reef). A number of dive schools and NGOs have 
become involved in monitoring coral reefs, with the most 
notable scheme being ReefCheck, an international initiative 
which is using volunteer divers to monitor hundreds of 
reefs worldwide. While this does not provide protection 
per se it is a very powerful tool for reef assessment, raises 
awareness of conservation issues, and gives a clear mes- 
sage to other national agencies about the public concern 



for coral reefs. Another increasingly common activity, 
often supported by the dive industry, has been the 
undertaking of reef clean-up activities, where teams of 
volunteer divers go out to remove solid waste such as 
fishing lines and nets from coral reefs. 

Military use: despite the damage caused to coral 
reefs by a number of military facilities mentioned above, 
there is also evidence, from a few areas, of more positive 
impacts. Many of these areas are closed to other activities 
on land, and to fishing in nearby waters. The presence of 
a military force further acts as a considerable deterrent 
to illegal fishing activities which abound in most areas. 
The large US base on Diego Garcia in the Central Indian 
Ocean, combined with British personnel on this island, 
undoubtedly has some deterrent effect for the large areas 
of coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago. 



The role of consumers 

Such approaches by the dive industry may be motivated 
by direct conservation concern, or by consumer demand. 
"Consumers", the paying users of the reef, may become an 
increasingly powerful tool, providing an economic incen- 
tive for coral reef conservation. Hotels, as well as dive 




A fairy tern Gygis alba returning to roost on Cousine Island, a privately owned reserve in the Seyctiettes. 



74 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Certification schemes 



One tool which Is increasingly being used as 
a nneans to promote sustainable utilization of 
the world's resources is that of certification, or 
"ecolabeling". Utilizing reliable and independently 
derived international standards in a certification 
process, industries or accredited organizations 
have the right to place a certificate or label on their 
products informing consumers that the product 
was produced, gathered or harvested in a sus- 
tainable fashion, with little or no impact on the 
environment. Consumers are equally encouraged 
to select these products, confident that they come 
from sustainable and well managed sources. In 
many cases consumer concern about the en- 
vironment and sustainabillty is high, and many 
consumers are prepared, If necessary, to pay 
higher costs for these products. 

These ideas have been applied to a limited 
number of fisheries, with perhaps the most 
notable being the certified "dolphin-friendly" tuna 
being marketed in many Western nations. One 
leading organization In this field is the Marine 
Stewardship Council IMSCI, established in 1996 
by WWF, the conservation organization. In partner- 
ship with Unilever, a major multinational corpora- 
tion with an Interest In fisheries. The focus of 
the MSC has been towards food fisheries, but no 
coral reef food fishery has yet been certified to 
MSC standards. 

One other major fishery In the coral reef 
environment is that of the aquarium trade, which 
has a very high value, but relatively low volume of 
trade, predominantly operating between developing 



coral reef nations and aquarium hobbyists in 
North America and Europe. To date this trade 
remains relatively poorly documented, and largely 
uncontrolled (with the exception of hard coral 
species). In 1998, the Marine Aquarium Council 
IMACl was established as an International 
organization to achieve market-driven quality 
and sustainabillty for the collection of marine 
ornamental species, most of which come from coral 
reefs. To achieve these aims, MAC has been 
developing standards for products and practices 
(ecosystem management, collection, handling and 
husbandry], but also establishing a system to certify 
and label compliance with these standards, and 
creating consumer demand for certification and 
labeling. Pilot schemes were to be tested in early 
2001, linking collection and export operations with 
importers and retailers. Parallel programs were to 
be run raising awareness amongst hobbyists, 
industry and the public, prior to release of a full 
certification system later the same year 

Certification systems established by indepen- 
dent international multi-stakeholder organizations 
such as the MSC and MAC have considerable 
potential for helping to ensure that reef fisheries 
are sustainable. The critical factors that will 
determine the success or failure of these schemes 
are consumer Interest and acceptance, combined 
with rigorous and reliable standards to ensure 
sustainabillty. If consumers do not select certified 
fish or fish products, and/or If the certification does 
not actually contribute significantly to sustainabillty, 
the ecolabeling program will not achieve its goals. 



schools, recognize tourists" interest in a clean environment 
and healthy reefs and may adjust their environmental 
practices accordingly. At another level, some communities 
or individual fishers in Southeast Asia have found more 
lucrative and sustainable incomes by taking tourist boats 
to coral reefs, and in a few areas local communities have 
set certain areas aside for tourist use without the need 
for legal designations. 

Future directions with this may include certification 
schemes or other systems which allow tourists to select their 
destinations and hotels in advance, and to avoid those areas 
or hotels which are major polluters or are making no efforts 
towards conservation. Schemes have been adopted in some 



parts of the world where tourist beaches are provided awards 
for environmental quality, and have been seen to have a 
significant influence on consumer choice. Other initiatives 
for marking hotels according to their environmental impact 
are being considered in some regions. 

Even away from the reefs themselves, consumers can 
have an impact. The aquarium trade is a major industry 
bringing coral reef species from coral reefs around the 
world to consumers, mostly in the USA and Europe. At 
the present time this trade is poorly monitored, but efforts 
to develop a certification scheme as a means of support- 
ing the sustainable development of this industry are now 
underway (see box). 



Signs of Change 



Mariculture and fisheries 
enhancement 

The use of mariculture (the farming, or aquaculture, of 
marine organisms) is growing in many reef areas. Clearly, by 
providing an alternative source of income and employment 
in coastal areas, mariculture can reduce the numbers who 
fish on the reefs themselves, and replace some of the 
demand for reef-caught protein. Mariculture is also occa- 
sionally used in replenishment schemes where species that 
have been greatly diminished in abundance are restored to 
certain areas. This has been successful for returning species 
such as giant clams and trochus to reefs where they have 
been largely or completely exterminated by overfishing. 

Another form of reducing fishing pressure has been 
the establishment of artificial reefs. These are artificial 
structures which are placed onto the seabed and serve as a 
complex habitat attracting fish, and hence being popular 
with fishers. They are often purpose-built structures, 
utilizing materials from car tyres, to boulders, to moulded 
concrete shapes, but alternatively may be pre-existing 
structures, typically boats, which are taken out and sunk in 
relatively shallow waters. The deployment of these has 
been highly controversial in many coral reef areas. There 
have been failures in the design of some artificial reefs 
(car tyres have come adrift, or boats have not been 
properly cleaned and leak oil). Also, some concerns have 
been expressed that these structures may not be increasing 



overall fish stocks, just attracting species away from the 
reefs to areas where they are more readily caught. Despite 
this controversy, artificial reef technology is quite widely 
used in many non-reef areas, and may prove to be valuable 
and sustainable in some environments. 



Reef recovery and restoration 

As reefs are degraded so it is critical to establish 
management regimes which may promote their recovery. 
Increasingly it is possible to pinpoint the causes of a reef's 
degradation or loss, and management measures can be 
found to reduce or remove these causal factors and to 
reverse the conditions. These may include changes to the 
fishing regime, or to adjacent activities on agricultural 
land or in industrial or urban areas. 

Such restoration techniques may be enhanced by 
more active processes of restocking, although the value 
of such approaches, when compared to allowing natural 
recovery processes, is sometimes questionable. A number 
of suggestions have been made regarding "planting out" of 
artificially reared corals, transplanting coral fragments 
from other areas, or enhancing coral growth rates with 
various processes. These may well prove successful in a 
few cases, but the high cost of such activities means that 
they are rarely, if ever, a viable process for restoring wide 
areas of reef ecosystems. 




Enjoying a dive on a tiealtliy reef in the Indian Ocean. 



76 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Integrating measures 

A considerable raft of measures are thus available for 
the protection of coral reefs, including fisheries controls, 
protected areas, and other schemes ranging from diver 
clean-ups, to consumer or market driven controls on reef 
utilization. All of these measures are heavily dependent on 
awareness raising and on education, and the establishment 
of training programs for managers and other authorities. 

Education needs to be aimed at all levels, including 
politicians and senior managers, artisanal and commercial 
fishers, recreational users of the reefs, tourists and aqua- 
rium hobbyists, but also the vast numbers of people 
whose lifestyles or businesses may affect reefs through 
pollution or sedimentation. The problems of global 
climate change represent an even larger challenge, which 
needs to be met with global education in order to make 
people aware of the massive changes required to reverse 
greenhouse gas emissions. 

There remains, however, a considerable weakness in 
any of these or other measures, when they are taken in 
isolation. Protected areas, if they have the support of the 
local community, can be highly effective in controlling 
overfishing problems and preventing direct damage to 
reefs. They will fail to serve their purpose, however, if 
tourists are allowed to destroy the same reefs through 
anchor damage, or pollution from hotels, or if a forestry or 
mining permit inland allows massive sedimentation to 
pour onto the reefs downstream. 

The concept of integrated coastal management has 
been widely accepted and promoted in many countries. 
In essence this involves developing a policy, not for 
particular locations, but for the entire coastal zone, 
including inland watersheds, and also offshore waters. 
Such policies, if developed in full consultation, and with 
active participation of local stakeholders, can be a highly 
effective means to protect not only coral reefs, but the 
livelihoods of all those living in the coastal zone. 
Typically the drafting of legal measures to implement 
policy is required, but often there is also devolution of 



controls to local agencies, further engendering the sense 
of ownership which can overcome the problems of com- 
mon access. The development of such integrated measures 
is critical, but also challenging, requiring considerable 
coordination of disparate groups of people, and involving 
complex negotiation and processes of conflict resolution. 

Provision of information and ongoing research 
remain a further priority. This includes establishing or 
expanding systems to monitor coral reefs around the 
world, in order to establish a clearer base line, and provide 
a warning of change. Equally important are studies on 
different management systems and fisheries techniques, 
and further research into aquaculture and reef restoration 
techniques. Such studies have already enabled the deve- 
lopment of new and innovative management regimes, 
greatly improving the lives of many reef users around the 
world. More detailed studies into ecology, genetics and 
oceanography may further our understanding of natural 
processes and the connections and interactions between 
reefs, which may prove critical in the design of nature 
reserves and wider protection and management systems. 

Perhaps the most important message, which is still 
not widely appreciated, is that active, sustainable 
management of coral reefs is always the most sensible 
approach. There is still a perception that reefs are of low 
economic or social value, and there is little or no con- 
nection between land-based activities and the impacts on 
the coral reefs. 

Coral reefs are extremely valuable in social and eco- 
nomic terms. They are also highly sensitive ecosystems. 
Examples from the establishment of effective no-take 
zones, to well managed tourism development, to the 
establishment of small-scale aquaculture, show, again and 
again, that reefs can be well managed and that good 
management pays. Even in the relatively short term the 
benefits from wise management are rapidly observed, in 
both economic and social terms. With the application of 
such measures the value of reefs is a permanent one, sus- 
tainable across generations. 




Left: A snorketler holds up nets wtiich have become tangled in shallow coral and abandoned. Right: A dried sea 
cucumber Demand for these has led to their over-harvesting from reefs across the Indo-Pacific. 



Signs of Change 



Selected bibliography 



Barber CV, Pratt VR 11997). Sullied Seas: Strategies for 

Combating Cyanide Fishing in Souttieast Asia and Beyond. 

World Resources Institute and International Marinelife 

Alliance. Washington DC, USA. 
Birkeland C ledl 119971. Life and Death of Coral Reefs. 

Chapman and Hall, New York, USA. 
Brown BE 119971. Integrated Coastal Management: South Asia. 

University of Newcastle. Newcastle upon Tyne. UK. 
Bryant D, Burke L, McManus J, Spalding M 119981. Reefs at 

Risk: A Map-based Indicator of Threats to the World's Coral 

Reefs. World Resources Institute, International Center for 

Living Aquatic Resources Management, World Conservation 

Monitoring Centre and United Nations Environment 

Programme, Washington DC, USA. 
Cesar HSJ led) 120001. Collected Essays on the Economics of 

Coral Reefs. CORDIO, Kalmar University, Kalmar, Sweden. 
Chadwick-Furman NE 119941. Reef coral diversity and global 

change. Global Change Biology 2: 559-568. 
Done TJ (19921. Phase-shifts in coral reef communities and 

their ecological significance. Hydrobiologia2A7: 121-132. 
Ginsburg RN ledl 119941. Proceedings of the Colloquium on 

Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health. Hazards and History, 

1993. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric 

Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, USA. 
Green EP, Hendry H 119991. Is CITES an effective tool for 

monitoring trade in corals'!" Coral Reefs 18: AOS-iO?. 
Green EP, Bruckner AW 120001. The significance of coral 

disease epizootiology for coral reef conservation. Biological 

Conservation 96\3]: 3A7-361. 
Hatziolos ME, Hooten AJ. Fodor M (edsl (19981. Coral Reefs: 

Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Management. 

The World Bank. Washington DC. USA 
Hawkins JP, Roberts CM, Clark V 120001. The threatened status 

of restricted range coral reef fish species. Animal Cons 3: 

81-88. 
Hoegh-Guldberg 11999). Climate change, coral bleaching 

and the future of the world's coral reefs. Mar Freshwater 

Res 50: 839-866. 
Hughes TP (19941. Catastrophes, phase-shifts, and large-scale 

degradation of a Caribbean coral reef. Science 265: 1547-1551. 
Jackson JBC (19971. Reefs since Columbus. Coral Reefs 16 

ISupplementI: S23-S32, 
Jennings S, Kaiser MJ 11998). The effects of fishing on marine 

ecosystems. Adv Mar Biol 34: 201 -352. 
Jennings S, Polunin NVC (1996). Impacts of fishing on tropical 

reef ecosystems. Ambio 25: 44-49. 
Kleypas JA, Buddemeier RW, Archer D, Gattuso J-P, Langdon 

C, Opdyke BN 11999). Geochemical consequences of 

increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on coral reefs. 

Sc/ence 284: 118-120. 
McManus JW 11997). Tropical marine fisheries and the future 

of coral reefs: a brief review with emphasis on Southeast 

Asia. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp V. 129-134, 
Polunin NVC, Roberts CM (eds) 11996). Reef Fisheries. 

Chapman and Hall, London, UK. 
Roberts CM 11997). Connectivity and management of 

Caribbean coral reefs. Science 278: 1454-1457. 
Russ GR, Alcala AC 11996). Do marine reserves export adult 

fish biomass? Evidence from Apo Island, central Philippines. 

Mar Ecol Prog Ser]32: 1-9. 



Salm RV, Clark JR, Siirila E leds) 12000). Manne and Coastal 

Protected Areas: A Guide for Planners and Managers. 

lUCN-The World Conservation Union, Washington DC, USA. 
Salvat B (ed) 11987). Human Impacts on Coral Reefs: Facts and 

Recommendations. Antenne Museum EPHE, French 

Polynesia. 
Sapp J (1999). What is Natural'' Coral Reef Crisis. Oxford 

University Press, New York, USA. 
Silvestre GT, Pauly D 11997). ICLARM Conference Proceedings. 

53: Status and Management of Tropical Coastal Fisheries in 

Asia. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 

Management. Manila, Philippines. 
Wilkinson CR led) 12000). Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 

2000. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Cape Ferguson, 

Australia, 



78 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 3 
Reef Mapping 



:^»-<S. .-r,.^^ 




trtfto 
Soundings in fathoms. 



AS long as humans and coral reefs have existed 
in close proximity, a knowledge of reef distribution 
has been important. The earliest navigators in 
coastal environments were in particular need of such 
information: reefs were a terrible hazard to be avoided, but 
also a source of food, while shelter in their calm lagoons 
was important during rough weather. This chapter traces 
the early development of knowledge on reef distribution, 
and subsequently of reef mapping, including the dev- 
elopment of the first global maps of coral reefs. It then 
reviews the contemporary methods of reef mapping, 
including both hydrographic techniques and remote 
sensing. A final section looks at the current state of global 
reef mapping, centered on the present work. 



Historical background 

Navigation among coral reefs may be almost as old as 
navigation itself. Many early cultures achieved con- 
siderable feats of navigation in coral reef regions. In 
Egypt, friezes on the walls of the mortuary temple 
of Queen Hatshepsut clearly describe a voyage of 
considerable distance by boat along the Red Sea. This 
famous expedition to the Land of Punt took place in 1496 



BC. Navigation in these areas was not solely undertaken 
by the Egyptians. The Babylonian and Sumerian empires 
traded across the Arabian Gulf and with many island 
kingdoms such as Dilmun in present-day Bahrain. 
Herodotus reports that Phoenician sailors circum- 
navigated the entire coast of Africa under orders from 
Pharaoh Necho II around 600 BC. 

The production of maps in the ancient world, 
incorporating the coastlines of the Arabian Gulf and 
the Red Sea, can be traced back over 4 000 years, to 
Babylonian stone tablets and Egyptian papyrus maps. 
Following on from this, the Greeks and Romans developed 
more detailed maps, including of the seas around the 
Arabian Peninsula. 

In the Pacific, the timing of movements and the 
directions taken by Pacific islanders are still under debate, 
although it has been suggested that Polynesian navigators 
may have reached Hawai'i from the Marquesas Islands by 
400 AD. Almost every tropical Pacific island had thus been 
settled by this date. Such movements indicate phenomenal 
navigational skills. Little is known about the existence of 
physical tools which might have been utilized to aid their 
navigation, but in the 19th century a number of stick-charts 
were discovered in the Marshall Islands. These consisted of 



Kandavu Island, Fiji, from a British Admiralty Chart annotated by Agassiz 118991. Fringing and barrier reefs are clearly 
nnarked, demonstrating the considerable attention to detail in many hydrographic charts. 



Reef Mapping 



79 



bound frameworks of sticks, with their intersections 
corresponding to the location of islands (often marked with 
cowrie shells). Other sticks showed the direction of waves 
or currents, or an indication of distance or direction to 
other islands. Although the stick-maps themselves are not 
old, it seems quite likely that such maps could have played 
a key role in the navigational feats of the Polynesian 
peoples for many centuries. 

Detailed mapping of the location of coral reefs 
began in the ages of discovery in the West. Since classical 
times maps or charts had been widely developed in the 
Mediterranean and were often kept by navigators m 
coastal pilot books. Travels outside this region began in 
the 15th and 16th centuries. Columbus made his first 
historic visits to the Caribbean islands in 1492-93, while 
Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and 
traveled along the coast of East Africa before crossing to 
India just a few years later. 

Charts were originally produced by individuals and 
later by the large trading companies. Being of high 
political and economic value, many of these were kept 
as closely guarded secrets. From the early 18th century 
onwards, the same charts became the primary responsi- 
bility of national hydrographic offices. The representation 
of coral reefs on these charts was as a navigational feature 
rather than a biological phenomenon, although in many 
cases the charts were drawn with at least some knowledge 
of the biological and geological setting of coral reefs. 

Much of the early scientific knowledge of coral reefs, 
from the 18th and 19th centuries, was actually gathered on 
the exploratory and hydrographic expeditions setting out 
from Western Europe. The voyages of Captain James 
Cook in the Pacific and later ones such as those of the 
Beagle with Charles Darwin and the Wilkes Exploring 



Expedition in the Pacific from 1838 to 1842 led to a great 
expansion of knowledge about reefs. Such expeditions 
were concerned not only with charting and the expansion 
of empires, but with many wider issues of research and 
discovery, including natural history and geology. 

The first global maps of reefs 

The first major global treatise specifically on coral reefs, 
which considered both the biological and geological 
origins of these, and which included a map showing global 
coral reef distribution, was that produced by Charles 
Darwin in 1842. While much of what is contained in this 
work was the result of Darwin's own observations during 
five years on the Beagle, an even larger proportion is 
based on his readings of the reports of other such 
expeditions and on his discussions with the various ships" 
captains and others who took part in these. In his own 
words, Darwin's work "is the result of many months' 
labour. [He] consulted, as far as [he] was able, every 
voyage and map" (Darwin, 1842). 

In 1912, the French scientist Joubin published a much 
larger-scale global map of coral reefs, covering the world 
in five large sheets at a scale of 1:10 000 000. Joubin's 
work was based not only on a survey of existing maps 
and charts, but also on the results of a much larger 
data-gathering e.xercise, which included correspondence 
with many interested people throughout the world. (He 
includes in his acknowledgement thanks to the abbes 
throughout the world who passed his information requests 
on to missions in quite a number of countries.) 

Until very recently, few other works have made 
such systematic attempts to map coral reefs globally. In 
general, following on from the early global reviews, there 
was a trend towards more detailed studies at the local 








Sou □din gi Id falhomi. 



Left: Beqa IMbengal Island and Barrier, Fiji, from a Britist) Admiralty Ctiart annotated by Agassiz 118991. Right: The walls of 
the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt illustrating the expedition to the Land of Punt (Sudan or Entreal in 1496 BC. 
The carvings show an intimate l<nowledge of these waters, including several identifiable fish species Ipiioto: Giotto Castellil. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 







«.^^ 



'''*^•=^^■^"'~f:^-1i^^l£^2'r4 , 



level. This is exemplified by the early work of Agassiz and 
the later studies such as those carried out on the Great 
Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-29 and the works 
supported by the Coral Atoll Program of the Pacific 
Science Board. More recently, the mapping of individual 
reefs and those of particular areas and countries at higher 
resolution has developed considerably, though at widely 



differing rates, throughout the world. In addition to charts, 
reefs are increasingly shown on topographic maps, as well 
as on other more specialized maps of natural resources. 
The availability of remote sensing technology has greatly 
improved the information base for reef mapping and this, 
together with other techniques used in the preparation of 
detailed reef maps, is considered in the next section. 











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lies Sous I e Vent 











Above: Darwin 's world map of coral reefs. This was prepared in 1842 from a study of multiple cfiarts and voyage reports. 
Below, left: Furttier detail of Darwin 's world map of 1842, the West Indies. Below, right: The considerably greater detail 
provided in Joubin's world map of coral reefs of 1912. 



Reef Mapping 



Reef mapping techniques 




Over the years a wide array of mapping techniques 
have been utilized to chart coral reefs. The choice 
of techniques is clearly influenced by the primary 
purpose for which a map is required, the scale of the work 
and the availability of resources. This latter point is partly 
a question of funds and personnel, but the availability of 
resources and their costs have also changed considerably 
over time. Many older maps were severely constrained by 
the mapping techniques available, but for large areas of 
the world these still remain the best available maps. 



Ground surveying and mapping 

On land, a variety of techniques have been widely applied 
for ground surveying, from the very simple preparation of 
hand sketches and chain surveying to more sophisticated 
techniques of plane table surveying, geodetic surveying 
and theodolite mapping. These techniques cannot easily 
be applied to the coral reef environment, although it is 
usually possible to gain information on distances from 
shore of particular features, and also to carry out some 
ground-based surveys on areas of very shallow reef flat 
which may be exposed at low tide. 

Historically, most marine mapping has relied on 
boat-based surveys. One of the great challenges to such 



surveys in the past has been the fixing of the boat's 
position. It was of course possible to utilize existing maps 
to establish position relative to known terrestrial features. 
Far offshore, or in completely uncharted areas, however, 
detailed astronomical methods were required to determine 
absolute location, alongside careful measurement of 
physical movement over shorter distances. Highly accu- 
rate positioning is now routinely available through the use 
of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which determine 
position to within a few meters by linking position on the 
ground to the known positions of a number of satellites. 

The calculation of depth is another important element 
in reef mapping. Prior to the development of sonar, this 
was done using soundings. Long cables were lowered off 
the edge of the boat until they hit the sea bed, at which 
point the depth was measured. In many cases tallow was 
placed in a small indentation in the bottom of the weight 
at the base of the sounding line or cable and inspected on 
return to the surface. This provided some indication of the 
benthos: sand or mud, and occasionally pieces of coral 
would adhere to this substance. 

Although many of these techniques have now been 
surpassed they cannot be ignored. For vast areas of the 
world the only maps in existence were prepared using 
these methods, and the great skills developed during the 



A Landsat image of southwest Cuba, showing a wide area of shallow banks, edged with coral reefs Image provided by 
National Remote Sensing Centre. UK}. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Scale and resolution 



The scale of a map Is a measure of the reduction 
of the size of features in their representation on 
that map. Resolution Is a related term, but Is a 
more direct measure of the detail shown on a map 
and generally refers to the minimum size of an 
object visible on a map, or the minimum distance 
by which two objects must be separated for them 
to appear as such. The characteristics portrayed 
In the spatial representation of any natural system 
are strongly related to scale and resolution, and 
these need to be seriously considered both by 
those responsible for the preparation of maps and 
by the end-users. A number of problems can 
arise, especially In the generation of statistics and 
the comparison of maps drawn at different scales. 

This IS Illustrated by attempts to measure 
coastline length: the complexity (and hence the 
length) of any coastline shown on a map is a 
function of map resolution. In the Caribbean, for 
example, maps of Individual islands frequently 
show great detail, including tiny offshore rocks 
and Islets. Regional maps, by contrast, may sum- 
marize complex coastlines Into a tew simple lines, 
while world maps often leave out many Caribbean 
Islands altogether Measuring the length of coast- 
line of any Island from each of these maps would 
clearly yield three very different results. 

With traditional photography the resolution 
or level of detail can be altered by varying the 
lens and photographic material, or by altering 
the height at which images are taken, although a 
balance must be struck between the area covered 
by the Image and the detail or resolution to be 
found In the resulting Image. Optical scanners 



gather light from a continuous grid of defined 
blocks known as pixels. The sensor records, for 
each pixel, the reflectance levels for those wave- 
bands tor which It is tuned. The resolution Is 
largely a function of pixel size which Is, in turn, 
dependent on the optics of the sensor and the 
height at which the images are taken (although 
this cannot easily be varied for satellites!. 

The problems posed by scale are not simply 
those of statistics. Entire natural phenomena will 
be hidden or exposed depending on the scales of 
study. This is of particular relevance in the coastal 
zone where many narrow linear features are likely 
to be entirely lost at low resolutions. 

This atlas provides examples of some 
"problems" of scale. Many of the maps have base- 
scales of 1:1 000 000 or lower At this scale 1 
millimeter on the map represents 1 kilometer on 
the ground, and It Is very difficult to see features 
with a diameter of less than ^00-500 meters. Many 
of the worlds coral reefs are fringing or patch 
structures which are narrower than this. Drawn 
strictly to scale, such features would not be visible 
In many maps. In an effort to address this problem 
the boundaries or lines marking the locations of 
reefs have been slightly exaggerated to ensure 
that they are clearly visible on the maps, although 
this also has the effect of exaggerating apparent 
reef area. This same problem can of course be 
carried back to the source materials (each of 
which is listed for the particular maps! - source 
materials prepared from remote imagery at 
scales of 1 :1 000 000 will be unable to pick out the 
smaller reef features. 



detailed surveying expeditions led to levels of accuracy 
which are quite extraordinary. Many of the sources used in 
this atlas can be traced back, at least in part, to surveys 
over 150 years old. In quite a number of cases such maps 
have now been verified against air photographs and found 
still to be highly accurate. 



Remote sensing 

Coral reefs largely occur in clear, shallow water. These 
two factors make many reefs highly visible when observed 
from above the ocean surface, and thus make them highly 
amenable to being mapped using remote sensmg. Remote 



sensing is the term widely applied for the "acquisition of 
information about the land, sea and atmosphere by sen- 
sors located at some distance from the target of study". 
Typically this means the gathering of images from aircraft 
and satellites, although it also includes such techniques as 
radar and, in the marine environment, sonar. 

It was not long after aircraft became widely available 
in the early 20th century that reefs began to be explored 
and mapped from above. Vertical aerial photographs of the 
Great Barrier Reef were first taken in 1925 and these same 
images were used as a baseline for the survey by the Great 
Barrier Reef Expedition of 1928-29. Great advances were 
made in sonar technology during the Second World War 



Reef Mapping 



83 




and this remained the only alternative to aerial photography 
for remote reef mapping until the advent of satellites in 
the 1970s. At the beginning of the 21st century there is 
an impressive, and technologically bewildering, array of 
optical devices mounted on satellites and aircraft available 
for coral reef mappmg. as well as highly sophisticated 
sonar devices on boats. 

The common principle behind the use of remote 
sensing is that coral reefs modify light or sound in a 
different manner to their surroundings: coral reefs "look 
different" to adjacent open water, seagrass beds, sand or 
other substrates when viewed from above. In photographs, 
as with satellites, it is the sun's light (usually the visible 
portion of the electromagnetic spectrum) which is modified 
by the coral reef, and enables it to be distinguished from 
other habitats. This particular range of wavelengths of light 
reflected by any subject is known as its spectral signature. 

A raw image prepared by any remote sensing tool is 
known as an unclassified image. To convert any such 
image into a map it must be interpreted or classified. 
Using digital images, one very simple approach is to 
produce an unsupervised classification, in which no prior 
knowledge is used, but the features on the map are 
grouped together based on similar characteristics (such 
as a range of shades of the same color). More useful, 
particularly for the subtle but important variances in 
reflectance characteristics on a coral reef, is to undertake 
a supervised classification. This requires some prior 
knowledge of the features to be classified, which may be 
undertaken through field study (ground-truthing) or 
utilizing existing independent knowledge, including maps 
or photographs. Using digital techniques, mapping 
software can be trained on particular localities within 



an image and then extrapolated to the entire image, to 
classify all areas with similar spectral signatures. 

In attempting to identify the features on an image, the 
interpreter is able to use considerably more than colors 
reflected off the surface. A whole series of characteristics 
including texture, relationships to other features, patterns 
and scale can aid identification of habitats or other fea- 
tures in a remotely sensed image. Image interpretation can 
be a highly skilled process which, if undertaken with care 
and consideration, may greatly enhance the effective 
resolution of an image. It is possible, for example, that a 
coral patch may be too small to be picked up by a remote 
sensor, but that patterns of grazing in surrounding sea- 
grass beds may produce a wide halo effect of bare sand 
around such reef patches. Such halos may be clearly 
visible and give an indication of the presence of a central 
reef patch. Such interpretation clearly requires some 
knowledge of coral reef ecology. 

Remote sensing, particularly using optical sensors, 
provides the opportunity of rapidly advancing beyond the 
simple mapping of geographical location. It is now possible 
to map different zones and ecological communities within a 
coral reef, and to look for changes in these patterns over 
time. Remote sensing can thus be used to look more closely 
at patterns of human impacts, and of management measures 
on reef environments, and to monitor changes over time. 

Satellite sensors 

Several different sensors are currently available, but the 
most widely used for reef mapping are Landsat Thematic 
Mapper (Landsat TM) and the Systeme pour I'observation 
de la Terre (SPOT). These have similar spatial resolutions, 
10-30 meters depending on the mode of data collection, 



Left: A scientist surveying a Caribbean reef. The quadrat is used to estimate percentage cover of different species. Right: 
A high resolution CASI image of patch reefs. Each is 20-50 meters in diameter and surrounded by clearly visible halos. 



8A 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Astronaut photography of coral reefs 



Astronauts have been photographing our planet 
through spacecraft windows ever since the begin- 
ning of human spaceflight. To date, nearly AOO 000 
photographs have been taken by astronauts on 
NASA missions using hand-held cameras. Most are 
in natural color and, due to selective photography by 
astronauts, tend to have relatively low cloud cover 
They are taken from a variety of angles out of the 
spacecraft, including near vertical views down at 
Earth, low oblique views at an angle, and high 
oblique views that include the horizon. Once con- 
verted to digital form, these images typically have a 
high resolution, with pixel sizes of 20-80 meters in 
most images. 

Earth observation training for astronauts 
includes the study of phenomena in the realms of 
ecology, geology, geograpy. oceanograpy. meteor- 
ology and the environment. Not surprisingly, the 
photographs they bring back to Earth are used 
by scientists of many different disciplines. Near- 
vertical or low-oblique angle photographs can be 
digitized at high resolution and used as three-band 
Ired, green, blue) remote sensing images in the 
same way a scientist would use Landsat or SPOT 
data. Image processing techniques can be applied 
to determine landuse, cover or change over time. 

Nearly 30 000 photographs of coral reef areas 
have been taken by astronauts on board the Space 
Shuttle providing a valuable but underutilized data 
source for coral reef scientists and managers. To 
facilitate the use of these public domain images. 



NASA's Earth Sciences and Image Analysis 
Laboratory has been collaborating with the 
International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 
Management IICLARMI to include astronaut- 
acquired photographs in the global coral reef 
database, ReefBase. 

Many astronaut photographs clearly show 
shallow reefs, and can show submerged features up 
to depths of about 15 meters in clear waters. It is 
possible to distinguish major geomorphological 
features within reef systems, including reef crests 
and patch reefs. They can be combined with tra- 
ditional satellite data to help distinguish between 
clouds and lagoon features such as pinnacles. 
Furthermore, astronaut photographs may provide 
reef scientists and managers with information on 
the location and extent of river plumes and sedi- 
ment runoff, or facilitate identification of land cover 
types, including mangroves. 

Photographs taken by astronauts are used 
to illustrate coral reefs throughout this book. They 
have been selected to show the range of coral reefs 
found in every region, and to further illustrate 
places described in the text and features of par- 
ticular interest, including human developments, 
the plumes of sediments in river mouths, shallow 
banks and remote atolls. Selected photographs 
were scanned, and color and contrast were hand 
corrected to give an approximation of natural color. 
None of the photographs shown here has been 
georeferenced, and a number were clearly taken at 



and both have sensors which detect light in discrete 
portions of the visible spectrum (bands). This is important 
because infrared radiation will not penetrate water and, 
generally speaking, more bands enable more subtle 
changes in the light returning from the seabed to be 
detected. Satellite images can be geometrically corrected 
(assigned map properties) and used in a geographical 
information system (GIS) quite easily. 

Cloud cover is an important constraint in some areas. 
It is often cloudy over reefs in the humid tropics and this 
limits the availability of useful satellite images. There are 
also some very real problems of accuracy. The technical 
specifications of the sensors mean that, while coral reefs 
may be mapped accurately and separately (in about 70 
percent of cases) from seagrasses, algal beds and sand. 



more detailed mapping of different reef habitats is only 
possible to an accuracy of 20-40 percent. A new gener- 
ation of high resolution satellites will become available 
over the next few years, though their utility for reef map- 
ping will probably depend on commercial factors. Initial 
data collection from new sensors is usually concentrated 
outside the tropics as a greater economic return can be 
generated from temperate regions. At the present time, 
therefore, satellite sensors are well suited for broad-scale 
mapping of reefs over large areas, but other techniques are 
required for more detailed interpretation. 

In addition to satellites, manned spacecraft provide an 
important opportunity for obtaining images of the Earth 
from space (see box). Examples of such images taken from 
the Space Shuttle are found throughout the present work. 



Reef Mappi ng 



85 



oblique angles through spacecraft windows. When 
feasible, near vertical photographs have been 
rotated so that north is toward the top of the page. 
An approximate scale bar and north arrow have 
been added based on reference to a 1:1 000 000 
scale navigation chart. 

Astronaut photographs provide a unique 
source of moderate resolution reet remote sensing 



data. They provide global coverage, with free and 
immediate availability in the public domain. The 
database of photographs can be searched and 
browsed online, and high resolution digital copies 
of photographs in this atlas can be accessed via the 
website of Earth Science and Image Analysis at 
NASA's Johnson Space Center: 
http://eoLjsc.nasa.gov 



Julie A Robinson (Johnson Space Center! and Marco Noordeloos IReefBasel 




European Space Agency astronaut Gerhard PJ Thiele photographs Earth from the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 
February 2000 ISTS099-305- 121. 



Aerial photography 

No other remote technique has produced as many maps 
of coral reefs as the simple use of photography from the 
air, typically from airplanes. Both conventional films and 
digital cameras are used. Cameras can be mounted on a 
wide variety of aircraft, and the techniques for analyzing 
the images are well proven. High resolution mapping can 
be carried out if the aircraft is operated at low altitude 
(sub-meter resolution is achieved by flying at 1 000 meters 
or less) although the area covered by a single flight path is 
much reduced as a result. The main constraints to this 
technique are the time required to process, geometrically 
correct and combine overlapping aerial photographs. In 
addition, many nations are highly sensitive about aerial 
surveys of their coastlines. Without a doubt the military 



archives of many countries represent a valuable, but 
generally unavailable, repository of coral reef images. 

Airborne multispectral imagers 

A more complex system of aerial imaging involves sen- 
sors similar to those used on satellites, pickmg up radiation 
on a number of specified spectral wavelengths. These 
multispectral imagers are of a size that may be operated 
from aircraft, enabling similar spatial resolution to aerial 
photography. The use of aircraft permits data to be collected 
specifically from areas of interest, at times when 
conditions are most favorable. Another major benefit 
of airborne multispectral sensors is that in many cases 
the optical configuration of the sensor can be set up as 
required. The two systems which have been used most 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



for reef mapping are the NASA Airborne Visible Infrared 
Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the Compact Airborne 
Spectrographic Imager (CASI). The costs and the complex 
processing requirements associated with these systems are 
still the main constraints to their general use for coral reef 
mapping. The minimum capital required just to obtain 
the imagery is typically many tens, if not hundreds, of 
thousands of dollars. At the close of the 1990s, however, 
these represented the most accurate available systems for the 
preparation of fine-scale coral reef maps. 

Active sensors 

Satellites and cameras are sometimes termed passive 
sensors - they gather information from existing light as it is 
reflected from objects on the ground. By contrast, a number 
of active sensors are used in the marine environment which 
direct their own source of light or sound towards their 
subject and measure the reflection. Acoustic signals, or 
sonar, are perhaps the best known. Sonar systems are 
carried by ship-borne sensors. Using higher frequencies, 
good spatial resolution can be achieved (1-4 meters), while 
in shallow water they are unaffected by water turbidity or 
depth. Sonar is used in most bathymetric mapping, and thus 
is an important element of many reef maps, ahhough it does 
not provide a direct measure of ecological features. 

Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) is a light- 
based form of remote sensing which involves emitting 
pulses from an airborne laser and receiving energy which 
has been reflected from both the water surface and sub- 
merged features. The time difference between the two 
types of return provides a highly accurate (±15 centimeters) 
measurement of depth. The result is an extremely high 
resolution bathymetric chart. LIDAR is much less affected 
by water clarity than normal optical sensors and in clear 
conditions can operate to depths of about 50 meters. Like 
sonar, LIDAR only maps the topography of the seabed, 
not ecological features. Furthermore, because of the vast 
amounts of data processing involved and the requirement 
for specialist aircraft, it is yet to be used routinely in coral 
reef mapping. 

Ground-truthing 

The process of producing a supervised classification of 
an image is highly reliant on the correct interpretation. 
Ultimately this is linked to a detailed sampling on the 
ground, either directly by the cartographers, or using 
existing information gathered by others in photographs, 
maps or ecological surveys. Ground-truthing is an 
expensive but critical element in preparing maps from 
remote sensors. Natural variation in reefs between loca- 
tions and over time is often significant and too much 
extrapolation from previous work, or from work under- 
taken in other areas, can lead to substantial errors. At 
the same time, ground-truthing can present considerable 



opportunities for the refinement of individual maps, 
greatly increasing the accuracy and allowing for the 
discernment of particular features or habitats which might 
not have been visible in other areas. 

Remote sensing now dominates mapping in almost every 
field, and is a critical component of reef mapping around 
the world. Apart from specialist maps covering relatively 
small areas, however, most existing maps which show reefs 
are composite productions which may have been prepared 
using satellite or aerial imagery in combination with 
bathymetric data from sonar surveys and even with much 
older data from early charts. A more widespread and rapid 
updating of reef maps worldwide is limited by the high cost 
of remote sensing and the detailed technical skills required 
for image interpretation and map production. 

Despite the power of remote sensing as a mapping 
tool, there are also several practical constraints to its use. 
Many of the world's reefs are located in the humid tropics 
where cloud cover is frequent, which greatly restricts the 
acquisition of images. The nature of mapping a submarine 
feature also creates its own set of problems, not least of 
which is the inability to map deeper reefs. Although the 
depth limits vary it is rarely possible to map features more 
than 20-30 meters below the ocean surface with conven- 
tional satellite imagery. Even above these depths, the water 
column greatly affects the light returning to the sensor, 
changing the spectial signatures of particular seabed 
characteristics depending on depth and water clarity. 
Although these effects can be partially compensated during 
image processing they cannot be totally removed or 
corrected. Moreover, the nature of the water column above 
a reef, especially turbidity and depth, is highly variable. 
Reef geometry, too, does not lend itself easily to being 
mapped by remote sensing - few parts are flat and most 
coral tends to be concentrated on steeply sloping edges. 

One further weakness is that the remote sensing tools 
used for seabed mapping are typically different from those 
used to draw bathymetric maps. Many reef maps prepared 
using remote sensing do not give detailed bathymetric 
data, although these are clearly an important feature of 
many reef maps. 

The only alternative to remote sensing for mapping 
coral reefs is the use of boat-based surveys to map surface 
features such as reef crests, plotting bathymetry, or even 
undertaking detailed sampling of the seabed. Unlike remote 
sensing, which samples the entire seascape, errors arise in 
this method because of the possibility of overlooking some 
habitats between adjacent sampling points. Conversely, one 
advantage of ground survey methods is that they allow for 
the mapping of additional resources such as different 
habitats or benthic species, which cannot be distinguished 
by remote sensors because of similar reflectance patterns or 
sparse distribution. Ground methods may also allow greater 



Reef Mapping 



87 



Habitat map of Cockburn Harbour. South Caicos, based on a supervised classification of CASI muUispectral 
imaging data, and showing the very good resolution and habitat differentiation which can be achieved from 
these sensors (reproduced by permission of UNESCO, from Green et al 12000]]. 




N 

S 

-50 50 100 

Metres 



xmmr 




r 


* 






Habitat type 

(with user accuracies) 






^^^■^Kj-' 


a 


Acropora palmata zone - 90% 
Soft corals & Microdictyon sp - 81% 
Soft corals & bare substratum - 80% 
Montastraea spp & bare substratum - 
Lobophora sp dominated - 82% 
Sand - 75% 

Penlcitlus & Halimeda algal dominated 
Seagrass: low-medium standing crop 
Seagrass: medium-high standing crop 
Land, sunglinl & unimaged areas 


83% 

-77% 
72% 
-93% 


ft 





Map Information 

Projection: Universal Transverse Mercator grid zone 19 
Spheroid: Clarke 1866 
Datum: NAD27 (Bahamas) 
Image date: 16 July 1995 



Map derived from airborne 
CASI imagery with 1 m 
spatial resolution 
Overall accuracy of map = 81') 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Broadscale habitat map of the Caicos Bank, Turks and Caicos Islands, based on a supervised classification 
of Landsat TM imagery Ireproduced by permission of UNESCO, from Green et al 1200011. 




Map derived from 

Landsat TM imagery 

Overall accuracy of map = 73% 



Habitat type • User Accuraaes - A/ea (ha) 

Land 

■ MaCToalgae - 47% 45,603 
Sand - 83% - 298,935 

■ Coral reel - 86% - 92,306 

■ Seagrass - 59% - 91 ,363 
I I De«pWalef 



ProJecJion UTM gnd zone 19 
Spheroid Cladte 1886 
Datum NA027 IBaliamas) 



visual depth penetration than many remote sensing methods. 
Furthennore, the inability of most sensors to detect small 
but important navigational hazards Isuch as rocics 1 or 
2 meters in size) mean that many new charts still utilize 
old hydrographic techniques, often in combination with 
remotely gathered data. 

Generally speaking, even for small areas, boat-based 
surveys are even more costly than using remote sensing, 
and the latter will continue to provide the dominant reef 
mapping techniques in coming years. New priorities will 
undoubtedly be to increase resolution and the differen- 



tiation of zones and communities on the reefs. One 
important aspect of this will be the development of 
comprehensive "spectral libraries", providing a constantly 
expanding reference library of spectral signatures asso- 
ciated with different reef communities at different depths 
and in different conditions. Such libraries will provide 
critical reference material for the truthing of new images 
without the need for extensive field surveys. Another 
priority will be to begin to utilize these images to make 
comparisons over time, and to use remote sensing in coral 
reef monitoring. 



Reef Mapping 



89 



Global reef mapping 




THAILAND 




Hat Nopharat Thara 
- Mu i<5 Phi Phi NP 



Recent years have seen a burgeoning of interest 
in obtaining global information about the natural 
environment. The values of having a global 
perspective on coral reef distribution are manifold, 
supporting an increased understanding of ecological and 
geological processes which, in turn, can fuel more locally 
based research into reef processes, or more widely based 
studies of global change. Linking this same information to 
knowledge of human uses and demographic change can 
have considerable value for development and resource 
management issues, and can again help in the under- 
standing of these at finer scales. 

The increasing role of regional and global organizations 
in decision-making processes, and the growing awareness 
of large-scale patterns within marine ecosystems across 
national boundaries, further increase the need for under- 
standing at the global level. Improved communications 
and data availability have strengthened the potential for 
developing and utilizing existing global-level datasets. 

Global maps of coral reefs have been developed and 
are maintained by a number of organizations. As sig- 
nificant topographic and navigational features, reefs 
remain important on global map and chart coverages, such 
as those produced by the UK and US Hydrographic 



Offices, and also the air navigational series, such as the 
US Defense Mapping Agency Operational Navigational 
Charts. Reefs on such charts are generally not given a 
clear geological or biological definition, as discussed 
below, but they remain valuable tools in developing a 
global understanding of reef distribution. Increasingly, 
such datasets are being prepared in digital formats. 

One other recent global synthesis of maps with a 
clearer ecological and geological focus was the three- 
volume Coral Reefs of the World, prepared at the lUCN 
Conservation Monitoring Centre (now UNEP-World 
Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNEP-WCMC). The 
volumes contain regional maps and national maps which 
were prepared from numerous sources, including scientific 
papers, navigational charts and personal communications. 
Since 1994, UNEP-WCMC has been developing a global 
map of coral reefs on its GIS. These maps have been 
published and widely distributed in the global coral reef 
database, ReefBase, and utilized in a variety of publications 
and analyses. They are now widely used over the Internet. 

The global coral reef map in 2001 

The only practical means for the preparation of a global 
map of coral reefs are through the compilation of existing 



Left, above: Detail of Map 1.2, plotting scleractinian coral diversity. Left, below: Detail of Map 2.2, sfiowing coral 
bleacliing events in 1998. Right: Part of a detailed map showing the location of coral reefs m relation to mangrove 
forests, protected areas and dive centers. 



90 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




material prepared at finer resolutions for specific areas. 
Although it is theoretically possible to prepare a more 
standardized global map using remote sensing, the 
realization of this goal remains some way off 

The approach adopted by UNEP-WCMC in this work 
has been hierarchical. As a starting point, a commercially 
available global base map of digital coral reef data was 
used plotting the world's reefs at a scale of 1:1 000 000. 
based on the US Defense Mapping Agency Operational 
Navigational Chart series. Although broadly accurate, this 
information was at too low a resolution to show many 
reefs. Further data were then added from the Coral Reefs 
of rhe World volumes, focussing on those countries 
where the 1:1 000 000 source was deemed particularly 
inadequate, notably the Caribbean and parts of the 
Western Indo-Pacific. In parallel with this work a data- 
gathering phase was initiated. Funds were insufficient for 
a systematic outreach, but improvement of national data 
has continued on an opportunistic basis, with particular 
focus directed towards those countries where existing data 
were considered particularly poor. 

The result of this mapping work, by 2001, was a 
comprehensive and detailed GIS dataset, outputs from 
which are presented in the maps contained in this volume. 
These maps represent a summary of the best global 
map of coral reefs available. A list of the source materials 
is presented for each map. In all. around 70 percent 
of countries include source material from new sources 
at scales finer than 1 : 1 000 000. Many of these were at 
scales of 1 :250 000 or finer, including navigational charts, 
topographic map series, processed satellite images and, 
more occasionally, specialist coral reef or shallow 
substrate maps. 



With a world map derived from multiple sources there 
will be variation in the definition of coral reefs which is 
used although remarkably few maps, other than detailed 
habitat surveys, provide these definitions in their keys or 
in accompanying documentation. Despite this weakness, it 
is usually possible to determine what has been mapped 
from an understanding of reef geomorphology, combined 
with some independent knowledge of the reefs of each 
region. Coral reefs portrayed on navigational maps and 
charts typically include shallow reef flat and reef crest 
areas only. High resolution resource inventories may give 
less attention to areas of reef flat where bottom cover is 
primarily bare rock or sand, but typically extend beyond 
the reef crest. The outer limits of coral reef areas as shown 
on maps may be set by the depth limitations of the survey 
techniques rather than by any clear ecological boundary. 

With this information it is possible to distil out a 
more generalized definition common to all sources. Such 
a definition, in fact, conforms quite closely to the broad 
definition provided in Chapter 1. As they are mapped in 
this volume, coral reefs are shallow structures built by 
corals and other hermatypic organisms, and in every case 
they are associated with an important living component, 
including hermatypic corals. 

These shallow reef areas are among the most 
important areas in terms of reef growth, productivity, 
coastal protection and diversity, but it is important to 
realize that there are considerable additional areas, 
including sub-surface structures and coral communities 
which lack clear physical structures and are not shown in 
these maps. Other authors, using broader definitions of 
reef, have calculated significantly higher reef areas than 
those presented in Chapter 1, although the lack of avai- 
lable data means that such calculations are inclined to 
be more predictive, and are of little value at regional or 
national resolutions. 

Work on coral reef mapping at UNEP-WCMC is 
an ongoing activity. The contribution of remotely sensed 
data is likely to expand in coming years, with increasing 
collaboration with partners around the world. It will be 
equally important to try to capture some of the sub-surface 
reefs, particularly in those parts of the world where these 
are more common, and may harbor important reservoirs of 
biodiversity. New priorities include the improved mapping 
of biodiversity patterns to overlay the coral reef distribution 
information, and the mapping of related habitats, notably 
seagrasses. It will also be important to develop a better 
understanding of human interactions with coral reefs, 
through continued mapping of the threats to reefs, and also 
improving the available information on marine protected 
area boundaries. This latter information will enable a more 
complete assessment of the global distribution and cover- 
age of marine protected areas with coral reefs and will help 
to highlight the gaps in this network. 



Corinna Ravitious incorporating coral reef data into UNEP-WCMC's global GIS. 



Reef Mapping 



Selected bibliography 



Agassiz A I189VI. The islands and coral reefs of Fiji. Bull Mus 
CompZool33: 1-167 land 120 platesl. 

Dana JD 11872). Corals and Coral Islands. Sampson Low. 
I^arston. Low and Searle. London. UK. 

Darwin C (1 842). The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reels. 
Smith, Elder and Co.. London. UK. 

Green EP, Mumby PJ, Edwards AJ. Clark CD (1996). A review of 
remote sensing for the assessment and management of 
tropical coastal resources. Coast Man 2A: 1 -40. 

Green EP, Mumby PJ, Ellis AC. Edwards AJ. Clarl< CD led 
Edwards AJ) 12000). Remote Sensing Handbook for Tropical 
Coastal Management. Coastal Management Sourcebooks 3, 
UNESCO, Paris, France. 

Joubin ML (1912). Carte des bancs et recifs de coraux 
(Madrepores). Annates de TInstitut Oceanograpfiique IV: 7 
(with 5 maps in separate volume). 

LeDrew E, Holden H, Peddle D, Morrow J. Murpiiy R, Bour W 
(19951. Towards a procedure for mapping coral stress from 
SPOT imagery with in situ optical correction. Third Thematic 
Conference on Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal 
Environments. 

Lulla KP et al (1996). The Space Shuttle Earth Observations 
Photography Database: an underutilized resource for 
global environmental sciences. Environmental Geosciences 
3:40-44. 

McManus JW. Vergara SG (eds) (1998). ReefBase: A Global 
Database on Coral Reefs and their Resources, Version 3,0, 
CD-ROM. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 
Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Peddle DR. LeDrew EF. Holden HM (19951. Spectral mixture 
analysis of coral reef abundance from satellite imagery and 
in situ ocean spectra, Savusavu Bay, Fiji. Third Thematic 
Conference on Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal 
Environments. 

PetroconsuUants SA (1990). MUNDOCART/CD. Version 2.0. 
1:1000 000 world map prepared from the Operational 
Navigational Charts of the United States Defense Mapping 
Agency PetroconsuUants (CESI Ltd, London, UK. 

ReefBase (2000). ReefBase 2000: Improving Policies for 
Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs. Version 2000. CD- 
ROM. ICLARM, Philippines. ISee also http://www,reefbase,org) 

Robinson JA. Feldman GO. Kuring N, Franz B, Green E, 
Noordeloos M, Stumpf RP (2000). Data fusion in coral reef 
mapping: working at multiple scales with SeaWiFS and 
astronaut photography. Proceedings of the 6th International 
Conference on Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal 
Environments 2: 473-483. 

Smith SV (1978). Coral-reef area and the contributions of reel 
to processes and resources of the world's oceans. Nature 
273: 225-226. 

Spalding MD (1997). Mapping global coral reef distribution. 
Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 2: 1555-1560. 

Stanley Gardiner J (1931). Coral Reefs and Atolls. Macmillan 
and Co, Ltd, London, UK. 

UNEP/IUCN (1988a). Coral Reefs of the World. Volume h 
Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. UNEP Regional Seas 
Directories and Bibliographies. UNEP and lUCN, Nairobi, 
Kenya, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 

UNEP/IUCN (1988b). Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 2: 
Indian Ocean. UNEP Regional Seas Directories and 



Bibliographies. UNEP and lUCN, Nairobi, Kenya, Gland, 

Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, 
UNEP/IUCN (1988c). Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 3: 

Pacific. UNEP Regional Seas Directories and Bibliographies. 

UNEP and lUCN, Nairobi, Kenya, Gland, Switzerland and 

Cambridge, UK. 
W/ells JW (1954). Recent corals of the Marshall Islands. Bikini 

and nearby atolls, part 2, oceanography (biologic), US Geol 

Survey Prof Pap 260: 385-486 
Winkler (1901). On sea charts formerly used in the Marshall 

Islands, with notices on the navigation of the islanders in 

general- Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1898. 

487-508. 



92 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Part II 



The Atlantic and Eastern 

Pacific 



The Atlantic Ocean covers one fifth of the 
surface area of the planet, second only in 
size to the Pacific. It is the world's youngest 
ocean, only beginning to form around the 
time of the break-up of the supercontinent 
of Pangea about 180 million years ago. It also has the 
biggest drainage basin of any ocean, and the large 
amounts of sediment entering it from the great rivers 
such as the Amazon, Orinoco, Mississippi, Niger and 
Congo certainly have a role to play in inhibiting coral 
reef development along much of its perimeter 

In the eastern tropical areas of the Atlantic the 
coastline is relatively simple, following the continental 
coast of West Africa, and with only a few significant 
island groups, notably the Cape Verde Islands and 
Sao Tome and Principe. The Central Atlantic has few 
shallow water features and, although there is some 
volcanic activity associated with the mid-ocean ridge, 
there are only a few oceanic islands in the tropics. The 
western coastline of the Atlantic is quite different: 
between the eastern coast of Venezuela and the 
southern tip of Florida there is a chain of islands 
separating the Atlantic proper from the Caribbean Sea 
in the south and from the Gulf of Mexico in the north. 
These semi-enclosed seas actually have an older 
geological history than the Atlantic itself. As the 
Central American Sea they would have been directly 
connected to the Mediterranean until the break-up of 
Pangea and the appearance of the Atlantic. There is 
volcanic activity in a few areas on the eastern and 
western edges of the Caribbean Basin. 

The only major coral reef development in this 
entire region is centered around the Caribbean Sea 
and to the north of Cuba in an area bounded by the 
Bahamas and Florida. There are smaller reef dev- 
elopments in a few locations in the Gulf of Mexico and 



around Bermuda in the Northern Atlantic. Brazil too 
has some reef structures, although in general these 
are small and intermittent. There are no true reefs on 
the other oceanic islands or in the Eastern Atlantic. 
Even in the Caribbean Sea, reef development rarely 
reaches the extent of reefs in the Indo-Pacific. and 
there appear to be real physical differences in reef 
structures between these regions. Many Caribbean 
reefs are deeper submerged features, while many of 
those with a clear reef crest often only have a narrow 
reef flat. Although there are a small number of barrier 
reefs and atolls these are clearly not as prolific as 
in many parts of the Indo-Pacific. In all, less than 
8 percent of the world's coral reefs are found in 
this region. 

In terms of biodiversity the coral reefs of this 
region are depauperate, but they are also unique. The 
Atlantic corals now share only seven genera with 
the Indo-Pacific. There are three clear regions in the 
Atlantic reef province, with the highest diversity 
focussed in the Caribbean [from Bermuda to Trinidad), 
but with other small centers of coral diversity in Brazil 
and the Eastern Atlantic. Current coral faunas are 
uniform across the Caribbean sub-region, with few 
geographically restricted species. The Brazilian sub- 
region is isolated from the Caribbean by a substantial 
barrier posed by the long, sediment-rich coastal areas 
of the Guyanas and the Brazilian Amazon. Although 
these reefs have a very low diversity of species, many 
are endemic. Some appear to be relict species with 
evidence of a wider distribution shown in the fossil 
record, while others are probably the result of 
allopatric speciation, and appear to have sister species 
in the Caribbean. The Eastern Atlantic has even 
lower levels of species diversity and there only one 
is endemic. The remainder show affinities to both 



The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific 



93 



Caribbean and Brazilian sub-regions, suggesting 
immigration from both areas. 

In many areas of the Caribbean, including remote 
localities, there have been wide declines in coral cover 
together with dramatic increases in algal cover While 
these can sometimes be directly related to human 
impacts in specific localities, there also appears to 
have been a regional decline. Much can be linked to the 
widespread die-off of the long-spined sea urchin 
Diadema antillarum, which occurred in 1983-8'i Isee 
page 611. This species was a major algal grazer on 
the reefs and, in places where overfishing was 
particularly high, it was often the major herbivore on 
reefs. The die-off appears to have been pathogenic - 
caused by a bacterial infection - and may have been 
natural or may have been carried to the region in 
ballast water from ships. At the same time wide areas 
have been afflicted by coral diseases. White band 
disease has infected and l<illed many populations of 
staghorn coral y4cropora cerv/corn/s and elkhorn coral 
Acropora palmata, which were once among the main 
structural components of reefs. Dead corals are rap- 
idly overgrown with algae, especially because of the 
loss of grazing Diadema, and large areas of reef have 
now become algae-dominated and are showing little 
sign of a return to previous conditions. 

The degree to which these problems are the result 
of entirely natural processes remains unclear, but this 
region is also widely affected by many direct human 
impacts, including sedimentation, nutrient pollution 
and overfishing. Tourism is probably the most 
important industry across the wider Caribbean, with 
most tourists seeking beach-based holidays. In many 
places, coastal development associated with the 
growing tourism industry has greatly exacerbated the 
problems facing the reefs of the region. In the 1998 
Reefs at Risk analysis, 71 percent of the reefs in the 
Wider Caribbean were described as threatened by 
human activities. In areas where these problems are 
most extreme, the rates of recovery of reef systems are 
certainly being slowed. Efforts to improve reef status 
and recovery through the implementation of marine 
protected areas and other coastal management 
regimes are varied, but include important success 
stories. At the same time, the indirect nature of many 
threats means that, even with legal protection, many 
reefs are still in decline. 



The Eastern Pacific 

The western shores of the Americas are completely 
separated from the Caribbean Sea and have very 
different coral reef communities. Although part of the 
Pacific, this region is quite distinct from the rest of this 



ocean in terms of its reefs. Much of the continental 
coastline plunges into relatively deep water as the 
oceanic plates are subducted under the continental 
plates of North and South America. There are only a 
few offshore islands lying beyond the continental shelf. 
Water conditions on the continental shelf fluctuate 
considerably, with cool water upwellings in most 
years, occasionally reversed to warm water upwellings 
during El Nirio Southern Oscillation (ENSOl events. 

The isthmus of Panama closed between 3 and 
3.5 million years ago and. apart from possible very 
minor breaches of this gap. there has been no marine 
connection between the coral reefs on either side of 
this land bridge since that time. Dramatic changes 
have been wi nught on the marine communities since 
the closure of lie isthmus. Initially the two separated 
communities wei e probably very diverse. However, the 
Pliocene/Pleistocene glaciations wiped out large num- 
bers of species, and almost completely removed coral 
species from the Pacific shores of the Americas. There 
has been some recolonization of these shores by corals, 
but they have come from the Pacific. Recolonization 
has been slow and sporadic due to the great physical 
distance between these shores and the nearest reefs 
around the Central Pacific islands. This "East Pacific 
Barrier" is enhanced by unfavorable patterns of ocean 
currents, further reducing the chances of larval trans- 
port across the Pacific. 

The coral reefs of the Eastern Pacific are thus 
highly distinctive communities. Their closest affinities 
are with the reefs of the Pacific, but they have a much 
lower diversity of species and many are endemic. The 
reefs themselves are rarely well developed as physical 
structures - most are simply coral communities. The 
few structural reefs are mostly small in overall extent, 
and consist of only a few meters depth of carbonate 
deposits. The one exception to this generalization is 
Clipperton Atoll, a true atoll administered by French 
Polynesia (and described in Chapter 141. 

Fluctuating oceanographic conditions have a 
considerable impact on coral reefs. The first region- 
wide mass mortalities associated with coral bleaching 
were linked to a major ENSO event in 1983. The 1997- 
98 ENSO event also caused high levels of bleaching, 
although mortality appears to have been lower 
Localized centers of upwelling appeared to suffer least 
and may be important refuges for the East Pacific 
fauna during such events. 

Human impacts on this region are generally low. 
Most of the reefs are associated with offshore islands 
and therefore not heavily impacted by terrigenous 
influences. Overfishing is certainly a problem in some 
areas. There is virtually no tourism, with the exception 
of the highly controlled visits to the Galapagos. 



MAP A 




Northern Caribbean 95 



Chapter U 

Northern Caribbean 




The northernmost reefs of the Wider 
Caribbean region lie outside the true 
Caribbean Basin, stretching in a broad 
sweep from the Turks and Caicos Islands in 
the south to Florida and the northern 
Bahamas. Far out into the Atlantic, the island of 
Bermuda forms an outlier to this group, connected to 
the region by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. 

This is an area of great biological interest. 
Because of its northerly location it encompasses the 
outer limits of the distribution range of many coral 
reef species. There are clear decreases in biodiversity 
with latitude and oceanographic processes probably 
play an important role in these biodiversity patterns. 
The general northward flow of currents maintains a 
supply of warm waters to latitudes even quite far 
outside the tropics, and supports the active growth of 
the most northerly reefs in the world, in Bermuda. 
These same currents may further maintain biodiversity 
on some reefs by transporting new larvae of coral reef 
organisms from reefs "upstream". Reef development 
in the region has built up complex reef systems around 
older carbonate structures and islands, and the overall 
extent of reefal shelf is really very large indeed. 



In human terms, this is a region of great contrasts. 
The reefs of the Florida Reef Tract are among the most 
intensively studied in the world, but they are also 
among the most heavily utilized and have become 
highly degraded. By contrast, the vast extent of reefs of 
the Bahamas are, for the most part, poorly described, 
and human impacts (other than fishing! are concen- 
trated in a few locations, leaving much of the rest 
relatively undisturbed. 

The legal protection of reefs, through the desig- 
nation of protected areas or the implementation of other 
strict management controls, is well established in the 
region. However, the condition of Florida's reefs, where 
human-induced stresses have been apparent for many 
decades, suggest that such protection may not be 
enough. Though they have been "protected" for some 
years, there remain considerable conflicts in the "user" 
demands of those living beside and visiting the reefs. 

In contrast to the Florida reefs, the Flower Garden 
Banks off Texas (Map Sal, as well as Bermuda and 
the Turks and Caicos Islands, provide examples of 
relatively well protected reefs. In the case of Bermuda, 
this protection comes in spite of high population den- 
sities and fairly heavy use of reef resources. 



/.eft; Broad wew of the Florida peninsula, with some of the reefs of the northern Bahamas visible to the right ISTS095-743- 
33, 19981. Right: Blue chromis Chromis cyanea hovering above the branches of the increasingly rare staghorn coral 
Acropora cervicornis. 



MAP 4a 




Northern Caribbean 97 



Florida and 

the US Gulf of Mexico 



MAPAa 



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1 



The coral reefs of mainland USA are largely 
restricted to two areas: the coastline of southern 
Florida and a few small but important reef patches 
in the Gulf of Mexico. 



Florida 

The Florida Reef Tract is one of the most extensive reef 
systems in the region. Starting directly offshore from 
Miami Beach there is a near continuous offshore reef 
structure which stretches in a barrier-like formation for 
some 260 kilometers. Further west the shallow platform 
continues, and there are isolated reef patches, including 
the Dry Tortugas and a number of submerged structures. 
The reef front has some well developed spur and groove 
structures, with coral mounds rising from the bottom 
below this. Overall coral cover in the region was typically 
14 percent in the late 1990s, reaching 30-40 percent on 
some patch reefs behind the reef crest. A slightly deeper 
channel lies behind the reef (Hawks Channel). Behind 
this there is a chain of islands, the Florida Keys. These are 
low-lying (less than 2 meters elevation), and are composed 
of Pleistocene limestone, stretching from Soldier Key near 
Miami to Key West. Behind the Florida Reef Tract and 
into the area of Florida Bay the waters are generally very 
shallow and harbor some of the most extensive seagrass 
areas in the entire region. Mangroves dominate the 



shoreline, both of the Florida Everglades and around many 
areas of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. North of 
Miami there is some reef development as far as Vero Beach. 
Generally these are not major reef structures and coral 
cover is low, although on deeper reefs down to 22 meters 
staghorn corals are reported to be increasing. 

Human impacts on the reefs of Florida have been 
apparent for many years. The Florida Keys were first 
joined to the mainland by a railway in 1912 and then by 
road in 1938. They have now developed into one of the 
most popular tourist destinations of continental USA. Over 
4 million people visit the Keys annually, joining some 
100 000 permanent residents. The majority are attracted to 
the area by the marine environment, and sailing, diving and 
fishing are critical to the local economy. 

The reefs of Florida, afflicted by an enormous range 
of impacts, include some of the most degraded in the region. 
Initial changes were noted following the construction of 
the railway causeway out to the Keys in the early 1900s. 
Patterns of water flow from Florida Bay became severely 
disrupted, and although channels have subsequently been 
re-opened, other impacts have continued and now include 
ship groundings, anchor damage and the scouring of sea- 
grass by propellers. Between 1980 and 1993 approximately 
500 vessels were reported to have grounded in the Looe 
Key and Key Largo Sanctuaries alone, while some 500 
ship groundings are now reported annually in the Florida 



Detailed view of the western Florida Keys, clearly showing the intense human development, including airstrips and 
roads, as well as sediments in the surrounding waters ISTS038-85-103, 19901 



98 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Another major problem 
is the eutrophication and pollution of nearshore waters 
associated with the extensive agricultural areas that drain 
into the bay, and from sewage. There are some 200 sewage 
treatment plants. 22 000 septic tanks, 5 000 cesspools and 
139 marinas harboring over 15 000 boats in the Florida 
Keys. Fishing pressure is considerable throughout the area, 
and many fish stocks are considered overfished. 

Although some declines in ecological conditions and 
coral growth have been linked back to the construction of 
the causeway, far more rapid declines have been observed 
since the 1980s. In 1 98 l,.4c/'o/;ora corals covered up to 96 
percent of the reef substrate in places, but by 1986 this 
cover had fallen to about 3 percent, linked to the impacts 
of white band disease. Even since 1996, there have been 
declines in both remaining hard coral cover and diversity 
at a majority of permanent monitoring sites. More than ten 
coral diseases have been observed. Coral bleaching events 
have occurred with increasing frequency since the 1980s, 
typically when warm weather is further exacerbated by very 
calm doldrum-like conditions. The most recent bleaching 
was associated with similar calm conditions in 1997, which 
continued to a second major warm period with intense 
bleaching in 1998, followed by the impacts of Hurricane 
Georges and Tropical Storm Mitch. In combination, these 
led to considerable losses of coral in shallow areas. 

Reefs in Florida are possibly the most intensely 
monitored in the world, with 16 programs active in 2000. 
All coral reefs in Florida are protected either at the 
federal or state level. The Florida Keys National Marine 
Sanctuary, designated in 1990. extends over nearly 10 000 
square kilometers of critical marine habitat, including coral 



USA, Atlantic 




General Data 






Population (thousands! 




275 563 


GDP (million US$) 




6 392 711 


Land area (km^j 




9/151 035 


Florida 




152 000 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




na 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


21 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%1 




91 


Recorded coral diseases 




16 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




1 250 


Coral diversity 




na/58 


Mangrove area (km^l 




na 


No. of mangrove species 




na 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communi- 
ties and sand flats. The sanctuary only provides partial 
protection and many unsustainable activities continue. 
However in 1997 a system of 23 no-take marine reserves 
was established within the area - while these only cover 
1 percent of the total sanctuary area, they include some 
65 percent of the shallow reef zones. Within three years 
there already appeared to be signs of some recovery. 

In addition to the marine zoning program, key sanc- 
tuary initiatives include a water quality protection program, 
extensive education and volunteer programs, channel 
marking initiatives, and installing and maintaining mooring 
buoys to prevent anchor damage to the reef 

The remaining reefs in Florida are around the Dry 
Tortugas and lie within the Dry Tortugas National Park. 

US Gulf of Mexico 

In the US waters of the Gulf of Mexico there are a nurnber 
of banks rising up from the continental shelf which are 
derived from salt domes. Although corals are found on a 
number of these they generally lack diversity and cannot be 
called true reefs, with the exception of the East and West 
Flower Garden Banks. The banks themselves cover less 
than 90 square kilometers, with the reef areas occupying 
only a small proportion (about 1.4 square kilometers). 
They are located 200 kilometers south of Galveston, Texas, 
and are among the most isolated reefs in the Wider 
Caribbean. Little known and studied until the advent of oil 
exploration during the 1970s, these reefs only appeared on 
nautical charts in the 1930s and fewer than ten papers were 
published on the Flower Gardens before 1969. They are 
colonized by 20 species of hard corals. Dominated by 
species of Diptoria, Montastrea and Poriles, they have a 
live coral cover of around 47 percent at a depth of 15-30 
meters. Shallow water species of soft corals are not found 
here. These reefs are naturally protected by their distance 
from shore and their depth: the bank crests are 15-20 
meters deep and so even hurricanes inflict relatively little 
damage. Environmental conditions are generally more 
stable than they are in Florida - the surrounding water 
is oceanic and exceptionally clear all the year round. 
Temperatures range from 19 to 30°C. 

Live coral cover has remained relatively high since 
monitoring first began in 1972, and the incidence of coral 
disease is relatively low (2 percent of colonies). Algal 
cover increased rapidly from negligible amounts to a 
maximum of 14 percent after the die-off of the urchin 
Diadema, but this was reversed within a year after the 
populations of large, herbivorous parrotfishes increased. 

The Flower Garden Banks are the setting for some 
spectacular seasonal events. Each year, at the last quarter 
of the moon in August, many coral species reproduce in 
a syncronchized mass spawning. Each winter the reefs 



Northern Caribbean 



Protected areas 


with coral reefs 










P Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size (km2| 


Year J 


Florida and US Gulf of Mexico 


Biscayne Bay 


National Park 


NP 


II 


729.00 


1980 


Dry Tortugas 


National Park 


NP 


II 


262.03 


1992 


Everglades 


National Park 


NP 


II 


6 066.88 


1947 


Florida Keys 


National Marine Sanctuary 


NaMS 


IV 


9 603.73 


1990 


John Pennekamp Coral Reef 


State Parit 


SP 


V 


226.84 


1959 


John U Lloyd 


State Recreation Area 


SRA 


V 


1.Q2 


1973 


Key Largo 


National Marine Sanctuary 


NaMS 


V 


323.88 


1975 


Key West 


National Wildlife Refuge 


NWR 


IV 


979.43 


1908 


Looe Key 


National Marine Sanctuary 


NaMS 


V 


15.54 


1981 


Flower Garden Banks 


National Marine Sanctuary 


NaMS 


V 


U5.04 


1992 


Everglades and Dry Tortugas 
National Parks 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






8 716.59 


1976 





witness gatherings of large schools of hammerhead 
sharks. Manta rays can be seen throughout the year - 
juveniles in the summer: adults in the winter Whale 
sharks are periodically abundant. 

The Flower Gardens were declared a US National 
Marine Sanctuary in 1992. An additional smaller bank. 
Stetson Bank, which lies further north in an area of greater 
temperature variation and higher turbidity, was added to 
this designation in 1996. While there is some coral growth 



on Stetson Bank there is no active reef accretion. The 
marine sanctuary has ensured that there has been remark- 
ably little impact from the petroleum industry, although 
there are about 4 000 hydrocarbon production facilities 
and over 35 000 kilometers of pipeline in the northwestern 
Gulf of Me.xico. Harvesting of reef organisms is restricted 
to hook and line fishing, anchoring by commercial vessels 
is prohibited, and mooring buoys for dive boats have been 
installed. Some 2 000 divers visit each year. 




A stoplight parrotfish Sparisoma viride amidst massive corals and a gorgonian coral or sea fan. 



MAP 4b 



<'C:>c 



.^ 



e- 



:^dAi 



QQ 






..^... 






I 




Northern Caribbean 



Bermuda 



MAP 4b 



Bermuda is an isolated group of 150 limestone 
islands in the Sargasso Sea area of the Western 
North Atlantic Ocean more than 1 000 kilometers 
from continental USA. Most of the land area is repre- 
sented by five islands which are joined together by 
causeways. These islands are the high points of the 
Bermuda Platform - the nearby Plantagenet and 
Challenger Banks rise to 50 meters below sea level. 
Together the three banks crown the Bermuda Rise, a mid- 
plate hotspot of similar origin to Hawai'i, although geo- 
logically older. Water in excess of 8 000 meters depth 
occurs just 6 kilometers to the northwest of Bermuda, as the 
sides of the Bermuda Rise fall steeply to the ocean floor. 

The Bermuda Platform is 1 400 kilometers from 
the nearest hermatypic coral reefs, in Florida and the 
Bahamas, yet supports the northernmost coral reefs of 
the Atlantic. A sub-tropical climate maintains shallow 
water temperatures above 19°C in winter, with a summer 
maximum of 27°C. The northerly occurrence of such 
warm temperatures, at a similar latitude to the Canary 
Islands, is due to the Gulf Stream which passes to the 
north and west of Bermuda. 

The reef flora and fauna of Bermuda are much less 
diverse than in the Caribbean. Only one third of Caribbean 
corals occur here, with the most notable absence being the 
genus Acropora. Approximately 120 species of reef fish 
have been recorded. Fringing, bank barrier and lagoonal 
patch reefs are found on the Bermuda Platform and the 
health of these small reefs is good overall. Coral cover 
averaged 30-35 percent in 2000, reaching 50 percent on 
the outer terrace. Grazing by parrotfishes and surgeon- 
fishes was sufficient to prevent even a temporary increase 
in the cover of fleshy algae after most of the Diadema 
died in 1983. 

Bermuda has a very high human population density. 
It also enjoys one of the highest per-capita incomes in 
the world, through both the provision of financial ser- 
vices and the development of luxury tourist facilities for 
600 000 annual visitors. The tourist industry accounts 
for an estimated 28 percent of gross domestic product and 
attracts 84 percent of its business from North America. 
The industrial sector is small, and agriculture is severely 
limited by a lack of suitable land. Domestic waste is 
the main source of terrestrial pollution. The occasional 
grounding of large vessels is also a problem for the reefs. 
Queen conch are reported to be commercially extinct, but 
other reef fisheries are at a low level and appear to be 




HH^^^ Bermu 


da 


^^ 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




63 


GDPImillion US$1 




1 797 


Land area Ikm^l 




39 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




450 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


UU 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




100 


Recorded coral diseases 




2 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




370 


Coral diversity 




26 /na 


Mangrove area (km^) 




0.16 


No. of mangrove species 




3 


No. of seagrass species 




U 



Above: A large hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus. These fish are popular food items and increasingly rare in many areas. 
Below: Massive corals Montastrea and gorgonians or sea fans. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



sustainable. In general, marine conservation enjoys 
priority status, with a high level of protection afforded to 
about a quarter of the Bermudan coral reefs through two 
coral reef preserves, three seasonally protected no-take 
fishing areas, nine large protected dive sites and a further 
20 smaller ones. The latter are mostly wrecks on the reef 



substrate, and many are now important reef habitats in 
their own right. All fishing is prohibited in these areas. 
Recreational fishers elsewhere have bag limits, and 
commercial trap fishing for finfish was totally banned 
in 1990. Recently the number of convictions for use of 
illegal fish traps has increased in Bermuda. 



Protected 


areas 


with coral reefs 










t Site name 




j^^^^H 


TtoDreviatioii 


m^^ 


^SlZ^kiiiJl 


^a^^ 


Bermuda 


Airplane 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Aristo 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


1 Blanche King 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Caraquet 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Commissioners Point Area 


Protected Area 


PA 




0.12 


na 


Constellation Area 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.79 


na 


, Cristobal Colon 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Darlington 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Eastern Blue Cut 




Protected Area 


PA 




1.13 


na 


Hermes and Minnie 


Breslauer 


Protected Area 


PA 




0.79 


na 


Hog Breaker 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Kate 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Lartington 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


L'Herminie 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Madiana 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Marie Celeste 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Mills Breaker 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Montana 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


North Carolina 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


North East Breaker 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


North Rock 




Protected Area 


PA 




3.U 


na 


North Shore Coral F 
Pelinaion and Rita Z 


ieef 


Preserve 


Pr 




130.50 


1966 
na 


ovetto 


Protected Area 


PA 




0.79 


Snake Pit 

South Shore Coral F 

South West Breaker 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


ieef 


Preserve 


Pr 




4.50 


na 


Area 


Protected Area 


PA 




1.13 


na 


Tarpon Hole 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Taunton 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


The Cathedral 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.28 


na 


Vixen 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.03 


na 


Xing Da Area 




Protected Area 


PA 




0.12 


na 


^ 



Northern Caribbean 103 



Bdhamas 



MAP 4c 




The Bahamas, an archipelago of some 700 islands 
and numerous reefs, stretch over 1 225 kilometers 
from north to south. Most of these islands are 
scattered over two shallow banks, the Little Bahama Bank 
and the Great Bahama Bank, with depths of 10 meters 
or less bounded by extremely deep water of up to 4 000 
meters. The Bahamas are named after these banks: 
baja mar is Spanish for "shallow sea". The other islands 
occur on smaller, more isolated, banks to the southeast 
(principally the Crooked, Mayaguana and Inagua Banks) 
and the west (Cay Sal Bank). To the south, Hogsty Reef is 
one of the few atoll-type structures in the Caribbean. All 
the Bahamian islands have low relief and are formed from 
carbonate material, laid down by corals and calcareous 
algae, or by physical deposition from saturated water. 
Successive ice ages exposed these carbonate platforms, 
and wind-blown sand dunes created at much the same time 
subsequently lithified, further raising the elevation in 
some areas. 

Two major currents affect the Bahamas. The North 
Equatorial Current, part of the North Atlantic Gyre, flows 
up from the southeast where it diverges: part passes along 
the east of the archipelago, while the remainder passes 
through the Old Bahama Channel which separates the 



country from Cuba. The Gulf Stream flows through the 
Straits of Florida from the west, before flowing north 
between Florida and the Bahamas. One effect of its power- 
ful flow is that most of the land-based runoff from Florida 
is diluted and dispersed without reaching the Bahamas. 

Reef development in much of the Bahamas is 
naturally limited by the exposure to hurricanes of the 
windward sites, by unusually cold winters in the northern 
islands and by turbid, high salinity waters on many lee- 
ward bank margins. However there are thousands of small 
patch reefs, dozens of narrow fringing reefs and some 
bank barrier reefs, such as the Andros Barrier Reef which 
is one of the longest reef systems in the Western Atlantic. 
Many Bahamian reefs are in fairly good condition, which 
is probably due to limited anthropogenic disturbance asso- 
ciated with their remoteness and the country's low 
population density. 

White band and other diseases have affected corals 
from San Salvador in the east to Andros in the west. 
Macroalgal cover is usually low to moderate and the 
abundance of both herbivorous and commercially 
important fish is high. Corals of the central Bahamas 
showed extensive bleaching in August 1998, with over 60 
percent of all hard corals bleached to a depth of 20 meters 



Left: Long Island. Bahamas ISTS055-73-38. 19931 Right: San Salvador, Rum Cay and Conception Island I5TS095-705-6 1, 19981. 



MAP 4c 




Northern Caribbean 



105 



I 



p 

Protected areas with coral reefs 


Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikm!) 


Year 


Bahamas 












Conception Island 


National Park 


NP 


II 


8.09 


1973 
1958 


Exuma Land and Sea Park 


National Park 


NP 


II 


455.84 


Inagua 


National Park 


NP 


II 


743.33 


1965 


Little San Salvador (Little Island) 


Wild Bird Reserve 


WBR 


IV 


1.82 


1961 


Pelican Cays Land and Sea 


National Park 


NP 


II 


8.50 


1981 


Pptprc;nn Cav 


National Park 


NP 


II 


0.01 


1971 



around New Providence Island. Near complete bleaching 
of all the hard corals and some gorgonians was seen at 
Little Inagua, Sweetings Cay, Chubb Cay, Little San 
Salvador, San Salvador and Egg Islands. Samana Cay was 
much less affected. There was also extensive bleaching at 
Walker's Cay in the northern Bahamas, with many types of 
coral affected. Some subsequent mortality was noted, 
particularly at the Exuma Cays. 

Edible reef animals are still common on many 
Bahamian reefs, and fish stocks are generally abundant. 
There is a well developed commercial and export fishery, 
with total landings in 1999 close to 5 000 tons, valued 
at over US$70 million. This figure includes over 2 700 
tons of the very high value spiny lobster tails. There is 
local overexploitation of certain stocks, including whelk 
Citlariim pica, queen conch, spiny lobster and several 



■■^■i^^"'^^' 




I^HHH 


^^^^^^ Bahamas 1 


^^^H 


General Data 




t 


Population Ithousandsl 




295 


GDP Imillion US$1 




3712 


Land area (km^l 




12 869 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




652 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


22 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%1 




49 


Recorded coral diseases 




8 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




3 150 


Coral diversity 




32/58 


Mangrove area (km^l 




2 332 


No. of mangrove species 




4 


No. of seagrass species 




2 



species of grouper Concern has been expressed that 
spawning aggregations of groupers have become the target 
for spearfishers. A number of illegal fishing activities 
occur which include the use of toxic chemicals, the har- 
vesting of hawksbill turtles, the taking of undersized or 
juvenile queen conch, and the collection of spiny lobster 
out of season or with prohibited diving gear. Artificial 
shelters are often positioned close to reefs to attract spiny 
lobsters, although there is concern that these may simply 
aggregate existing spiny lobsters rather than enhancing 
natural stocks. There is a limited legal harvest of adult 
green turtles during an open season (April-July). Sand is 
still being mined from a few reef sites on a fairly small 
scale. Over half of the commercial dive sites have mooring 
buoys. Declines in coral cover have been recorded in some 
locations. On New Providence dredging, landfill, sedi- 
mentation and the construction of a cruiseship port have 
led to the loss of 60 percent of the coral reef habitat. 

The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an 
economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore 
banking. Tourism alone accounts for more than 60 percent 
of gross domestic product and directly or indirectly 
employs 40 percent of the archipelago's labor force. 
Moderate growth in tourism receipts and a boom in the 
construction of new hotels, resorts and residences has led 
to localized pressures on coral reefs, but the total area is 
so great that the majority of reefs are probably little 
affected. 

Shark feeding, a new speciality of the Bahamian dive 
industry, is attracting increasing numbers of tourists. 
Several protected areas have been established, though in 
2000 these were poorly funded and had only one paid 
warden. Overall prospects for the conservation of the 
marine environment in the Bahamas will depend heavily 
on the fortunes of the tourism sector and continued 
income growth in the USA, which accounts for the 
majority of tourist visitors. 



106 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Turks and Caicos Islands 



MAP Ad 




The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of two 
archipelagos of limestone islands distributed 
across the relatively small Turks Bank and the 
much larger Caicos Bank, with an area of some 8 000 
square kilometers. The margins of these are defined by 
sharp "drop-offs" to deep oceanic water Geologically the 
Turks and Caicos Islands are similar to the Bahamas, 
consisting of oolitic limestone sediments, eolianite hills 
and karst limestone cliffs on the windward shores. There 
are three submerged banks to the southeast - the 
Mouchoir, Silver (La Plata) and Navidad Banks, the last 
two of which are claimed by the Dominican Republic. 

The edges of the main banks are dominated by coral, 
algae and gorgonian communities. Hard coral cover 
averaged 18 percent in 1999, with 30 percent of the sub- 
strate being covered by the alga Microdictyon marinum, 
and a low density (five per square meter) of soft corals. 
There is true fringing reef along the southern tip of Long 
Cay, the southern coast of South Caicos and the northern 
coasts of Middle and North Caicos, and in many locations 
this protects a lagoon with dense beds of seagrasses, 
mainly Thalassia testudiniim and Syringodium fdiforme. 
Diversity is high, with some 37 coral species and more 
than 400 fish species recorded. Large patch reefs, some- 



20 km 



times several hundred meters in diameter, occur across the 
Caicos Bank, which is mainly covered by sparse seagrass 
and calcareous green algae. A number of coral diseases 



Turks and Caicos Islands 


^^ 


General Data 






Population (thousands! 




18 


GDP (million US$1 




na 


Land area (km^l 




491 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




153 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


na 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




47 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




730 


Coral diversity 




29/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 




111 


No. of mangrove species 




5 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



The Caicos Bank. Much of the central bank is dominated by sand, but there are also important seagrass and 
mangrove communities ISTS050-82-98, 1992!. 



MAP4d 




WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



I 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name Designation Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm^i Year 

Turl(s and Caicos 



Fort George Land and Sea 


National Park 


NP 


IV 


4.94 


1987 


French, Bush and Se; 


al Cays 


Sanctuary 


S 


IV 


0.20 


1987 


Grand Turk Cays, 
Land and Sea 




National Park 


NP 


IV 


1.56 


1987 


West Caicos Marine 




National Park 


NP 


IV 


3.97 


1992 


North, Middle 

AND East Caicos Islands 


Ramsar Site 






544.00 


1990 



have been reported and are thought to have contributed to 
extensive losses of Acropora. though considerable stands of 
Acropora palmala still remain. 

The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, 
fishing and offshore financial services. Nearly all capital 
goods and food for domestic consumption are imported, 
and there is minimal manufacturing and agriculture. With 
no rivers, terrestrial runoff is very low. In 1999, over 
120 000 visitors were recorded, with the USA being the 
primary source of tourists. The primary export fisheries are 
conch and lobster, with exports of 646 tons and 314 tons 
respectively in 1998, mainly to the USA. Reef fish are 
largely taken for internal markets, generally sustainably. 



Nutrient discharge is a localized problem, notably 
on Providenciales, resulting from coastal development, 
including hotels and marinas, but also conch aquaculture 
and fish processing plants. Direct damage to the reefs by 
divers may be a localized problem at some dive sites. 
Generally the reefs of the Turks and Caicos Islands show 
little signs of being adversely affected by human activity, 
however development in the tourism sector may pose a 
significant threat, notably newly proposed harbor and 
tourist developments on East and South Caicos. A 
considerable number of marine protected areas have been 
designated, although active management of these is limited 
away from Providenciales. 




Eagle rays Aetobatis narinari rising up from the deep waters on the edge of the Caicos Bank. 



Northern Caribbean 



Selected bibliography 



FLORIDA AND THE US GULF OF MEXICO 

Chiappone M, Sullivan KM 119961. Distribution, abundance and 

species composition of juvenile scleractinian corals in the 

Florida Reef Tract. Bull Mar Sci 58121: 555-569. 
Gittings SR, Hickerson EL ledsl (19981. Dedicated Issue - 

Flower Garden Banl<s National Marine Sanctuary. Gulf of 

Mexico Science 16121: 127-237. 
Jaap WC, Hallock P (1990). Coral reefs. In: Myers RL. Ewel JS 

ledsl. Ecosystems of Florida. 57'i-618. 
LeeTN, Rooth C etal (19921. Influence of Florida current, gyres 

and wind-driven circulation on transport of larvae and 

recruitment in the Florida Keys coral reefs. Continental 

She/^ffes 12(7-81: 971-1002. 
Murdoch TJT, Aronson RB (19991. Scale-dependent spatial 

variability of coral assemblages along the Florida Reef Tract. 

Cora( Reefs 18: 3A1-351. 
Ogden JC, Porter JW etal (1994). A long-term interdisciplinary 

study of the Florida-Keys seascape. Su// Mar Sci 54(3): 1059- 

1071. 
Porter JW, Meier OW (1992). Quantification of loss and change 

in Floridian reef coral populations. 4merZoo/32(6): 625-640. 
Suman DO (1997). The Florida Keys National Marine 

Sanctuary: a case study of an innovative federal-state 

partnership in marine resource management. Coast Man 

25(31: 293-32A. 

BERMUDA 

Cook CB, Logan A et al (1990). Elevated temperatures and 
bleaching on a high latitude coral reef - the 1988 Bermuda 
event. Cora/ ffeefa 9111: 45-49. 

Ministry of the Environment (2000). Marine Resources and the 
Fishing Industry in Bermuda: A Discussion Paper Ministry 
of the Environment, Government of Bermuda. 

Schultz ET, Cowen RK (1994). Recruitment of coral reef fishes 
to Bermuda - local retention or long-distance transport. Mar 
fco/ProgSerl09(l): 15-28. 

Smith SR (1992). Patterns of coral recruitment and post- 
settlement mortality on Bermuda's reefs - comparisons to 
Caribbean and Pacific reefs. Amer Zool 32(61: 663-673. 

Thomas MLH, Logan A (1992). A Guide to the Ecology of 
Shoreline and Shallow-Water Marine Communities of 
Bermuda. Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Special 
Publication Number 30. 

BAHAMAS 

Anthony SL, Langg JC. Maguire B (1 997). Causes of stony coral 

mortality of a central Bahamian reef: 1991-95. Proc 8th Int 

Coral ReefSymp 2: 1789-1794. 
Hearty PJ. Kindler P (1997). The stratigraphy and surficial 

geology of New Providence and surrounding islands, 

Bahamas. J Coasf Res 13131: 798-812. 
Liddell WD, Avery WE, Ohlhorst SL (1 996). Patterns of benthic 

community structure, 10-250 m, the Bahamas. Proc 8th Int 

Coral ReefSymp 1: 437-442. 
Smith GW (1994). Effects of temperature and UV-B on different 

components of coral reef communities from the Bahamas. 

In: Ginsburg RN (ed). Proceedings of the Colloquium on 

Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards and History, 

1993. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 

University of Miami, USA. 126-131. 



Steneck RS, Macintyre IG, Reid RP (19971. A unique algal ridge 
system in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas. Coral Reefs 16(1): 
29-37. 

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS 

Gaudian G, Medley P 11995). Evaluation of diver carrying 
capacity and implications for reef management in the Turks 
and Caicos Islands. Bahamas J Sc/ 31 11: 9-14. 

Mitchell BA, Barborak JR (1991). Developing coastal park 
systems in the tropics - planning in the Turks and Caicos 
Islands. Coasta/ Man 19(11: 113-134. 

Mumby PJ. Green EP, Clark CD, Edwards AJ (1998). Digital 
analysis of multispectral airborne imagery of coral reefs. 
Cora; ffeefe 17111: 59-69, 

Map sources 
MapAa 

Coral reef and mangrove data were obtained from the Florida 
Marine Research Institute in digital format. Highly detailed files 
from numerous sources (from 19801, including aerial photo- 
graphy and ground surveys. Location of the Texas Flower 
Garden Banks has been extracted from hydrographic charts. 

Map 4b 

Coral reef data are taken from Hydrographic Office 119841. Last 
major edits to this chart were in 1959. 

Hydrographic Office (1984). Bermuda Island. British Admiralty 
Chart No. 3ii. 1 :60 000. Taunton, UK. 

Map 4c 

Coral data have been digitized from UNEP/IUCN |1988al' 

which presents coral reefs as arcs at a scale of approximately 

1:2 600 000. Mangrove data are based on B&B Ic. 1995a and 

c. 1995b) and Sealey and Burrows (19921. 

B&B (c. 1995a). Bahamas North 1:500 000 Road Map. 
Berndtson and Berndtson Publications, Furstenfeldbruck, 
Germany (Used for: Bimini Island - 1:100 000.1 

B&B (c.1995b). Bahamas South 1 .500 000 Road Map. Berndtson 
and Berndtson Publications, Furstenfeldbruck, Germany. 
(Used for Aklins Island only - 1:500 000; Mayaguana - 
1:500 000; Great Inagua - 1:500 000; Exuma Islands - 
1:500 000; Cat Island - 1:500 000; San Salvador - 1:250 000; 
Long Island- 1:500 000.) 

Sealey N. Burrows EJ (eds) (1992). School Atlas for the 
Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Longman Group UK Ltd, 
Harlow, UK. (Used for Grand Bahama - 1:600 000; Abaco - 
1:650 000; New Providence - 1 :1 10 000; Andros - 1:730 000.1 

Mapid 

For the Caicos Bank, reef and coastline are taken from a broad- 
scale habitat map based on Landsat TM imagery (path, row 45, 
22 Nov 19901. Supervised classification of marine areas pro- 
duced four categories of marine habitat, of which one was 
defined as "coral reef", shown here. Mangrove information, 
together with all information for the Turks Bank, is taken from 
DOS (19841. 

DOS (1984). Turks and Caicos Islands. 1:200 000. Series DOS 
609 2nd edn. Department of Overseas Surveys. London, UK. 



* See Technical notes, page 401 



110 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 5 
Western Caribbean 




11 km 



This region incorporates some of the largest 
islands in the Caribbean, including Cuba, as 
well as the mainland of Central America 
from Mexico south to Colombia, It also 
harbors considerable areas of coral reef. 
The reefs of Discovery Bay in Jamaica have been the 
subject of intensive studies since the 1950s, and 
together with the extensive barrier and fringing reef 
systems of Belize and the Caribbean coastline of 
t^lexico are among the best known reefs of the region. 
Reef development across the continental shelf of 
Nicaragua is poorly documented but believed to be 
extensive. Cuba has considerable though little-known 
reefs on all sides, particularly associated with the 
long-shore archipelagos which border more than half 
of its coastline. 

Human impacts on the reefs in this region are 
highly varied. Some, such as those in Jamaica, have 
been heavily utilized by humans for many decades. In 
recent years these have been severely degraded by 
a combination of the Diadema die-off and disease, 
together with direct human impacts, notably over- 
fishing, but also sedimentation and nutrient 
pollution. Others have been protected by their 



distance from the coast along with relatively low 
human population densities. 

The East Pacific coastline of the Americas holds a 
number of unique tropical coral assemblages. For the 
most part these do not form true reefs, although 
there are some reef structures in a few locations. 
Biodiversity is low on the reefs, though they contain a 
number of unique and important species. The diversity of 
reef corals in this region was much reduced during the 
Pliocene/Pleistocene glaciations and has not recovered. 

This region is regularly impacted by extreme 
environmental conditions. Coastal waters are typically 
cool and rich in nutrients, associated with upwellings, 
but there is also occasional extreme warming linked to 
El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. This can 
cause widespread coral bleaching and subsequent 
mortality, driving localized extinctions of particular 
species. The frequent occurrence of such events fur- 
ther helps to explain the lack of more extensive reef 
development. Clipperton Atoll is the only major reef 
structure on the western edge of this region. Because 
it is administered from French Polynesia and shares 
some features with the Indo-Pacific reefs, it is covered 
in Chapter 14. 



Left: Grand Cayman. The shallow lagoon is surrounded by extensive and important mangrove areas ISTS062-8i-70, 19941. 
Right: The newly described coral Pocillopora effusus Itop of picturel growing on a rock outcrop exposed to strong wave 
action on Clarion Island, Mexico. Thus far this species is only known from Clarion Island and Mexico Iphoto: JEN Veronl. 






MAPS 




MAP 5a 




2 


2 


D. S 




STP 
RZST 

tIasjN 
NMP 


2 


-^-1 -i 


X 






1 




ya de Isia Conto 
fa de Mamata y 
ya de Puerto An 
ya de la BahIa d 
Celestun ETC 
Lagartos ETC 
n Ka'an BR(N) 
rra de Santa Ma 
ema Arrecrfal V 


1 < 


lip 

T o a 3 


CDrara(ij.E?J2raQ)w 


Q.Q.cLQ.Q:a:aiiy3wi->x>- 


^SiSS^SEaKSKglo 


^ 


Q. 


^ ^ 


0. -e 

it- 






oSi-g^i &^o 




nosde 
Ceuta 
Cuitzn" 
El Tec 
ElVer 
Mexiq 
MIsma 
Ptedra 
Ranch 


•^ 5..5,5.5!.5.S.5.S. 


?.&£?. 


(nnJiotocbraSjtotD 


n (0 CC CD 


0.0.0.0.0.0.0-0.0.0.0.0.0. j 









Western Caribbean 113 



Mexico 



MAPS 5a and b 




Coral reefs and communities occur throughout 
Mexico but are concentrated in four main areas: 
the Gulf of California and Pacific Coast; the 
nearshore reefs between Tampico and Veracruz in the 
western Bahia de Campeche; the more distant offshore 
reefs of the Campeche Bank; and the fringing reef and 
atolls of the Caribbean Sea. 

Hermatypic corals were originally considered to be 
rare in the Mexican Pacific, but recent research has 
described abundant coral populations in these reefs, 
despite their small size (mostly a few hectares or less) 
and their discontinuous occurrence. True reefs with an 
elevated structure occur at Cabo Pulmo, Ensenada Grande 
on Isla Espiritu Santo, Punto Chileno, Islas Marias and at 
scattered locations along the southern coast of Oaxaca. 
Coral communities, sometimes with abundant coral 
growth but little net accretion, are present in the central 
Gulf of California from Isla Angel de la Guardia to Bahia 
Concepcion. They consist of just two species - Pontes 
panamensis and P. sverdnipi - which are tolerant of the 
low temperatures of the upper gulf The latter is an 
endemic species believed to be a relict from the Pliocene 
undergoing a natural process of extinction. Other com- 
munities occur all along the Pacific coast, occupying 




rocky areas at 0-15 meters in depth. The communities 
at Isla Jaltemba, Huatulco Bays, east of Puerto Angel, 
Puerto Angelito and Carrizalillo are particularly well 
developed but are composed of only a few species, mainly 
Pocillopora spp., Pnriles spp., Parana spp., Psammocora 
spp. and Fungia spp. The latest El Nino and post-El Nifio 
events in 1997 and 1998 caused considerable bleaching 
and mortality around Bahia Banderas and Huatulco, but 
had considerably less impact at some other localities. 

Some 200 kilometers south of Baja California and 
600 kilometers west of mainland Mexico, lies a small 
but important group of four volcanic islands, the Islas 
Revillagigedo. They lie in deep oceanic water and are 
broadly impacted by a westward flowing North Equatorial 
Current, which is fed by the cold California Current and 
the warmer Costa Rica Coastal Current. These relatively 
harsh conditions are exacerbated by regular tropical 
storms. Despite this, the islands harbor the most diverse 
fish and coral communities in the Mexican Pacific. Reef 
development is limited, but there are some true reef 
structures, notably in the more sheltered bays. Twenty 
hennatypic coral species have been recorded around these 
islands, dominated by Pocillopora spp., as well as Pontes 
lobata and P. lichen. Many gorgonian species have also 



Left: Bahia La Paz, in tt)e soutt) of Baja California. Atthiougli tfiere are important marine communities and some corals, true 
reef development is fiigfily limited ISTS030-71 -9. 19891. Rigfit: Frencf) angelfish Pomacanthus paru Iplioto: Colin Fairiiurstl. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



been recorded. Biogeographically the islands appear to 
be more closely linked with Clipperton Atoll than the 
Mexican mainland and up to three of the hermatypic coral 
species found on the islands may be endemic to these two 
areas. Additionally, six molluscs and 12 reef fish have 
been found to be endemic to the islands. 

In the Gulf of Mexico reefs occur in the south, and 
are mostly located along the edge of the continental shelf, 
both around Veracruz and on the Campeche Bank, which 
follows the western and northern edges of the Yucatan 
Peninsula. The majority of the Veracruz reefs are platform 
reefs, some with emergent parts, as in Isia Lobos, 
although patch reefs do exist in El Giote off Anton 
Lizardo and at Punta Gorda, Punta Majagua, Hornos and 
Punta Mocambo. Sedimentation is very high on reefs 
close to the port of Veracruz where the rivers Antigua, 
Papaloapan and Alvarado limit coral growth, and diversity 
in these areas is low. 

The Campeche reefs have ecological and morpho- 
logical characteristics that distinguish them from the 
Caribbean reefs of Mexico, although their fauna is similar. 
Both emergent (eg Cayos Areas, Cayos Arenas and 
Arrecife Triangulos) and submerged (eg Banco Nuevo, 
Banco Ingles, Bajo Serpiente. Madagascar and Sisal) reefs 
are present. All are platforms rising from a pre-Holocene 
base located at a depth of 50-60 meters. Arrecife 
Alacranes is an atoll. 

The most extensive reef development in the country 
is in the state of Quintana Roo on the east coast of the 
Yucatan Peninsula. Here the continental shelf is very 
narrow, in many places less than 2 kilometers wide. There 
are partly submerged fringmg reefs along much of this 
coastline, while from Xcalak southwards there is a fully 
developed fringing reef which continues to Ambergris 
Key in Belize, and then extends into the Belize Barrier 
Reef Extensive spur and groove systems have developed 
m the center and south. This coastline is noted for its lack 
of rivers but numerous limestone sink holes result in an 
outflow of freshwater at various points. Offshore are two 
further important features: Cozumel Island, a relatively 
large island in the north with a number of reefs on both 
windward and leeward shores; and close to the Belize 
border the large atoll of Banco Chinchorro, which is 
separated from the mainland by a 1 000 meter deep 
channel. The reefs are well developed on the eastern 
(windward) side of this atoll: coral cover is lower in the 
shallow waters, and a spur and groove system has 
developed. The lagoon is generally sandy, with extensive 
seagrass cover and some patch reefs. Both Banco 
Chinchorro and Cozumel modify the northerly flow of 
water in the Caribbean Current. South of Cozumel. part of 
the current is funnelled into the channel and accelerates 
up to 4 knots to form the Yucatan Current. Its speed is 
believed to influence sedimentation rates and possibly 



Mexico 




General Data 






Population (thousandsl 




100 350 


GDP Imillion US$1 




26A715 


Land area (km^l 




1 962 9/18 


Marine area Ithousand km?) 




3 289 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


11 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




39 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikm^j 




1 780 


Coral diversity 




78/81 


tvlangrove area Ikm^l 




5315 


No. of mangrove species 




5 


No. of seagrass species 




6 



coral larvae settlement, particularly in the Playa del 
Carmen area. Considerable declines in coral cover at 
Puerto Morelos and nearby reefs have been related to the 
impacts of Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and a large but 
unquantified bleaching event in 1995. However, unlike in 
Belize to the south, the combined impacts of the bleaching 
and Hurricane Mitch - the Atlantic's fourth strongest 
hurricane on record - did not lead to widespread coral 
mortality along this coastline. 

Little information exists on the anthropogenic 
impacts on coral reefs and communities in the Mexican 
Pacific. Most of the coral and reef communities occur 
in places subject to recent intensive development for 
tourism, and sedimentation arising from deforestation in 
adjacent watersheds is increasing. Even on the remote 
Islas Revillagigedo sedimentation - arising from over- 
grazing by goats and pigs - may be a problem. A small 
aquarium fishery in the Gulf of California has recently 
been expanded, with three operators and combined 
permits for the collection of nearly 90 000 individual 
fish (from 20 species), 1 000 corals and 80 000 other 
invertebrates per year. These figures are of some concern 
because the coral communities from which these 
collections are derived are small and scattered, and their 
natural vulnerability is further exacerbated by the extreme 
environmental conditions of the region. 

In the Gulf of Mexico, the Veracruz reefs have 
probably suffered the greatest damage from human 
impacts due to their proximity to the coast and their 
location near important ports such as Veracruz and 
Tuxpan. Campeche Bank reefs have suffered from oil- 
related activities over the last 25 years. A deep water oil 
port was installed by Cayos Areas and the chronic effects 



88°30' 



87''45' 



87"0ff 



2r45' 



Gulf of Mexico 



MAP 5b 



Yucatan 2r45' 
Channel 



Bajo Pawashik 



BajdAntonieta 

i Lagartos Ramsar Site ' 



RIa Lagartos ETC 



Playa de Isia 
Contoy RZSTP 



Dnlam SR 
& Ramsar Site 



Playa adyacente a 
Rio Lagartos RZSTP 

Yucatan 
State 



^^v;---.— .— v' ;--<||. '.San Jiiand^Ulua 

Punta Majagua "^ fc . * A. Blanquilla 

PunlaGorda) K 

.W Anegada d£ Adenmi - 

La Blenqjilla ETC '"\: : -l: ^ ^'' ''^'^^ 
Veracruz "^ Jv '' 





Costa Occidental 

de Isia Muleres 

APFFS 

._. Isia Muieres, 
CanciJn*- it^ Punta Canciin 
^ y Punta Nizuc NP 

* Punta Nizuc 21 "OO" 



Quintana Roo; 

State 




Airecifes de 
Puerto Morelos NP 



^ ir. C ' Laguna de 
Playa del Carmen te Chankanaab ^ ., , 
Pf^at Punta Molas 

.s ^ 

LB ' 

ttccS-:Jii k IslaCozumel 



Palmul •'- 



20°15' 



i\ 



TulumNP 
Tulum ^ 



__, Costa Occidental de 

Chacalal • PalajicarReef--- IQ ^ Ista Cozumel APFFS 

Yacab Reef •■■■■■! I > 

Colombia Reef- ■' r z*^ Arrecifes de .2p°15' 



Manicajbo Reef 



Cozumel NP 



Yucatan Peninsula 
MEXICO 



Sian Ka'an BR(NJ, 

Wortd Heritage Site 

\ and Biosphere Reserve 



19°30' 



CARIBBEAN SEA 




18°45' 



116 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



of numerous small oil spills in addition to occasional large 
spills are believed to have adversely affected the coral 
reefs. Fishing is at least partially regulated in the reefs 
near Veracruz, while Campeche Bank is heavily exploited. 
The Caribbean reefs have been subject to intense 
artisanal fishing since the 1960s, and tourism has 
developed enormously since the mid-1970s. Small reef 
patches, such as El Garrafon at Isia Mujeres and Punta 
Nizuc at Cancun. have been completely destroyed by 
tourism and impacts are becoming more evident elsewhere 



along the Cancun-Tulum touristic corridor in places such 
as Akumal and Puerto Morelos. as well as the offshore 
island of Cozumel. The impacts of construction and inade- 
quate sewage systems in porous karst limestone, combined 
with the direct impacts of anchor damage and diver damage, 
are a cause for concern throughout this area. 

A large number of marine protected areas have been 
declared which include coral reefs. Active management in 
some of these is supporting increased protection of coral 
reef resources m these areas. 



m-- '-^ 

Protected areas 


with coral reefs 








■1 


1 Site name 


Designation Abbreviation 


lUCN caL 


Size Ikmil 


Year 1 


Mexico 












Archipielago de RevlUaglgedo 


Biosphere Reserve (National! 


BR(N| 


VI 


6 366.85 


1994 


Arrecife Alacranes 


National Marine Park 


NMP 


II 


3 337.69 


1994 


Arrecifes de Cozumel 


National Park 


NP 


II 


119.88 


1996 


Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos 


National Park 


NP 


II 


108.28 


1998 


Arrecifes de Sian Ka'an 


Biosphere Reserve (National) 


BR(N1 


VI 


349.27 


1998 


I Bahia de Loreto 


National Marine Park 


NMP 


II 


2 065.81 


1996 


Banco Chinchorro 


Biosphere Reserve (National! 


BR(N! 


VI 


1 443.60 


1996 


Cabo Pulmo 


National Marine Park 


NMP 


II 


71.11 


1995 


Costa Occidental 
de Isla Cozunnel 


Area de Proteccion de 
Flora y Fauna 


APFFS 


IV 


na 


1980 


Costa Occidental 
de Isla Mujeres 


Area de Proteccion de 
Flora y Fauna 


APFFS 


IV 


6.64 


1973 


Fondo Cabo San Lucas 


Area de Proteccion de 
Flora y Fauna 


APFFS 


na 


na 


1973 


Isla Contoy 


National Park 


NP 


II 


51.26 


1998 


Isla Mujeres, 

Punta Cancun y Punta Nizuc 


National Park 


NP 


V 


86.73 


1996 


La BlanquiUa 


Other Area 


ETC 


IV 


668.68 


1975 


Laguna de Chankanaab 


Parque Natural 


PNat 


Unassigned 


na 


1983 


Los Arcos 


Other Area 


ETC 


V 


na 


1975 


' Sian Ka'an 


Biosphere Reserve (National! 


BR(N! 


VI 

II 


5 281.47 
522.39 


1986 
1992 


, Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano 


National Marine Park 


NMP 


1 Xcalak 


National Marine Park 


NMP 


II 


na 


2000 


ISLAS DEL GOLFO OE CALIFORNIA 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






3 603.60 


1995 


Sian Ka'an 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






5 281.48 


1986 


Sian Ka'an 


World Heritage Site 






5 280.00 


1987 















I 



Western Caribbean 117 



Belize 



MAP5C 




Although a relatively small country. Belize has some 
of the most extensive coral reef resources in the 
region. The coastline is fringed by a shallow shelf 
with a barrier reef running along its outer edge. The Belize 
Barrier Reef is the longest in the Caribbean. 230 kilometers 
in length, though there are barrier-like reef tracts in Florida 
and Cuba which are considerably longer. To the north the 
barrier reef becomes joined to the mainland at Ambergris 
Cay, a southerly extension of the Yucatan Peninsula. At 
this point the reef system becomes fringing, and continues 
north along the coastline of Mexico. These reefs, together 
with others to the south in Honduras, are sometimes known 
as the Meso-American Reef, in recognition of the inter- 
connected nature of their ecosystems. 

The mainland coast is dominated by narrow sandy 
beaches or mangrove forests, often associated with river 
deltas. The development of reefs along the mainland is 
extremely limited by fluctuations in turbidity and 
sediments. Some reefs do occur in the south between 
Placencia and PuntaYcacos, but have low species richness 
and are dominated by sediment-resistant genera such as 
Siderasnea and Porites. The lagoon is 20-40 kilometers 
wide, typically only a few meters deep in the north, but 
reaching 50 meters in the south. It supports some of the 



most extensive seagrass beds in the Caribbean. Patch reefs 
occur across the whole shelf, though they are much more 
abundant in the south. These patch reefs vary considerably 
in size from small collections of corals to large reefs many 
tens of meters in diameter, as their form and species 
composition are determined largely by the location on the 
shelf, wave and current energy, and depth. Rhomboidal 
atoll-like structures called faros are very unusual features 
associated with the southern shelf They are believed to be 
formed by corals growing on top of submerged sand or 
rubble cays. The lagoon also houses regionally important 
populations of the Caribbean manatee, although there are 
concerns that illegal hunting may be reducing its numbers, 
particularly in the south of the country. The barrier reef 
Itself typically consists of a rubble strewn reef flat with 
numerous mangrove cays on its central and landward side, 
fronted by a reef crest. The outer slope is best developed 
(and studied) in the central section, where the reefs are 
typically long and unbroken with a deep spur and groove 
system which in some areas becomes a double ridge 
separated by a rubble-filled channel. The reef is split by a 
series of channels, and in the south it breaks up and 
becomes partially submerged. 

The other striking feature of Belizean reefs is three 



The Belize Barrier reef and the three offshore atoUs ISTS060-85-W, 19941. 



MAP5C 




MEXICO 



88°30' 
CoFozal ' 



88°oq 



CoTOzalBay 



18°00' 



* San Filipe 



17° 30' 



BELIZE 



A 



' BELMOPAN 



ly-off 



16°3ff 






Rocky Pt 



Yucatan Peninsula 
MEXICO 



Shipstem 
Privf^ 



Bahia 
de 

Chetumal 






Banco Chinchorro BR(N) 
(MEXICO) 



Xcalak NMP (MEXICO) 






Deer Cay 

LJttle 



1 



Bacalar 
Chico MR 
. .-' RcefPl 

Guana. V 'V.'/ Belize Banier Reef 
■ JL CayBS ■■ l. J I Reserve system 

^'^, , ;\ tj World Heritage Site 

*.. ./A 

Sma// j;/ 

Mangrove jjaf„ „ ^ 
■ CayBS -rT'San Pedro 



18°00' 



ly'Sff 



Be/ize Barrier Reef 

Reserve system 

World Heritage Site 



Port Honduras. 




^roof 



Placencia-Ti Lagoon ' \W\ t ' 

; Lagoon../^ Cays ^ ^'It 



Monkey River Town j Qgy fnf gg 



BeZ/ze Barrier ■• 
Reef Reserve 
system IVorid •. 
PimtaYracos Heritage Site \ 



jr Laughing Bird 
~ eNP 




^ Ranguana 
F Cay 



Al 



Bahia deAmatique 



88°30' 



i ^/ Sapodilla 
» ■ l> Caves MR 

■ 4* 



Gulf of Honduras 
88°00' 



50 km 



87°30' 



Western Caribbean 



large atolls further offshore: the Turneffe Islands. 
Lighthouse Reef and Glovers Reef All three show distinct 
differences between the leeward and windward slopes, 
with the development of spur and groove formations on 
the windward (eastern) sides, but also some of the most 
highly developed reef structures. Lighthouse and Glovers 
Reefs are exposed to higher wave energy on these eastern 
slopes and as a result they have a higher coverage of 
Acropora palmata and Lithothamnion than Turneffe. Both 
of these atolls also have deep lagoons with numerous 
patch reefs and very little land cover. Turneffe, by 
contrast, has a land area of 22 percent of the atoll and a 
shallow lagoon with only a few patch reefs in the north. 

Hurricanes have regularly impacted Belize's reefs. 
Hurricane Hattie in 1961 was reported to have reduced live 
coral cover by 80 percent in some places, although the reefs 
subsequently made a good recovery. As elsewhere in the 
region, Acropora cover has fallen dramatically since the late 
1970s, linked to the impact of white band disease. In 1998, 
the El Nifio-related coral bleaching event, followed by 
Hurricane Mitch, hit the reefs of Belize particularly hard. 
Corals remained bleached for a considerable period, but by 
early 1999 mortality was high, with a 62 percent loss of live 
coral cover in the south, 55 percent in the north, 45 percent 
in the atolls and 36 percent in the central reefs. 

Belize has a long history of human activities in the 
coastal zone, which can be traced back to 300 BC. The 
Mayan Indians used cays in the lagoons as stations for 
fishing conch, finfish, turtle eggs and manatees, as well as 
ceremonial centers and burial sites. Nowadays the major 
threats to the reefs of Belize are fishing, sedimentation, 
agrochemicals, sewage, solid wastes and dredging. 
Fishing occurs on a relatively small scale given the reef 



area, but in 1998 employed 2 000 fisherfolk with 350 
boats. The dominant fisheries are lobster (mainly 
Pamdirus argiis). which was considered to be near to its 
maximum sustainable yield in the early 1980s, and conch 
(mainly Sirombus gigas). The latter produces catches 
averaging 180 tons per year The adults aggregate in the 
shallow back reef and seagrass areas and although there 
are signs that the populations may be overexploited, 
catches have remained consistent. A deeper and unfished 
reproductive population could be responsible for main- 
taining the catch. Nearly two thirds of lobster and conch 
are exported to the USA. By contrast 80 percent of 



^^^^^^^P 


-m 


General Data 


■1 


Population (thousands) 


2i9' 


GDP (million US$1 


50/i 


Land area (km'l 


22 169 


Marine area (thousand km-') 


31 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/year) 


8 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%) 


63 


Recorded coral diseases 


A 


Biodiversity 


m 


Reef area (km^) 


1 330 


Coral diversity 


46/57 


Mangrove area (km^j 


719 


No. of mangrove species 


5 


No. of seagrass species 


na 





30 km 



Left: Soft corals and a tubular sponge. Rig fit: Chetumal Bay, on the border between Belize and /Mexico. To the right is 
Ambergris Cay where the Belize Barrier Reef connects to the Yucatan Peninsula and becomes a fringing reef tlSSOOl- 
ESC-5317,2001L 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas 


with 


coral reefs 












1 Site name 




Designation 


Abbreviat 


ion 


lUCN cat. 


Size (km'i 


Year 1 


Belize 


Bacalar Chico 




[vlarine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


107.00 


1996 


Blue Hole 




Natural Monument 


NM 




III 


41.00 


1986 


Gladden Spit 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


na 


2000 


Glovers Reef 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


308.00 


1993 


Half Moon Caye 




National Monument 


NaM 




III 


39.25 


1982 


HolCfian 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


4.11 


1987 


Man-o-war Cay 




Bird Sanctuary 


BS 




IV 


0.01 


1977 


Port Honduras 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


na 


2000 


Sapodilla Cayes 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


127.00 


1996 


Soutfi Water Cay 




Marine Reserve 


MR 




IV 


298.00 


1996 


Belize Barrier Reef 
Reserve system 




World Heritage Site 








963.00 


1996 




BL 




^^■B 


iif'ia 


— — 




BHHB 



finfish, especially higher quality species such as groupers 
(Serranidae) and snappers (Lutjanidae), are caught for 
local consumption. Shrimp mariculture is now an impor- 
tant industry in Belize. There are considerable concerns 
about the impacts this industry may already be having on 
coastal fisheries and further expansion is likely to impact 
mangrove areas. A number of major fish spawning aggre- 
gations are known in Belize, and many are considered to 
be overfished. One of the largest of these. Gladden Spit, 
has recently been declared a protected area. 

The Belize economy is heavily dependent on 
agriculture. Sugar, the chief crop, accounts for nearly half 
of Belize's exports, while the banana industry is the 
country's largest employer. Increased sedimentation from 
forest or savannah clearances and eutrophication from 
fertilizers are suspected, although few effects on the 
marine environment can be directly attributed to agri- 
cultural landuse practices. Adjacent to the banana and 
citrus growing regions of Belize, shallow marine habitats 
such as patch reefs and seagrass beds are located much 
further offshore than elsewhere, and there is a higher 
growth of algae under certain conditions. This is an area 
of intense ongoing research. Belize's trade deficit grew 
throughout the 1990s, mostly as a result of low export 
prices for sugar and bananas, and so tourism has been 
assuming an increasingly important role. This may also 
bring a greater range of threats to the reef systems, 
although there have been particular efforts to develop Belize 
as an environmentally sustainable "ecotourism" destination. 

Considerable efforts have also been directed towards 



the development of a system of marine protected areas. 
The Hoi Chan Marine Reserve in the north of the country 
is widely cited as an example of an effective no-take zone, 
implemented with the support and collaboration of the 
local population. This site has significantly higher fish 
numbers and biomass than surrounding areas, but. more 
importantly, its protection has demonstrably increased fish 
yields from the surrounding areas. For many of the other 
marine protected areas the legislation and infrastructure 
are largely in place for full and effective reef management, 
although further enforcement is still required. 




A tourist on the Belize Barrier Reef. Waliang on reef flats can become a problem when there are large numbers of 
visitors to a smalt area of reef. 



Western Caribbean 121 



Honduras, Nicaragua, 
Guatemala and El Salvador 



'y-' 



MAPsd 



'"' ...-»' ■il'^'s'-wi^sr: 



H0nuUr3S has a long mainland coast facing 
the Caribbean Sea but dominated by heavy riveiine 
inputs and extensive mangrove communities. There 
are no recorded coastal coral reefs, although small, poorly 
developed coral communities are recorded from Puerto 
Cortes, La Ceiba and Trujillo. Important coral reefs occur 
around the Bay Islands (Utila, Roatan, Guanaja) and also 
the Cayos Cochinos which lie between Roatan and the 
mainland. Fringing and patch reefs also occur to the east 
associated with the Misquitia Cays and Banks, which are 
a continuation of the reef systems on the Nicaraguan shelf 
to the south. There are also reefs associated with the 
remote Swan Islands (Islas del Cisne) some 150 kilo- 
meters northeast of the mainland. These are three raised 
coralline islands which lie close to the edge of the Cayman 
Trench. They are surrounded by fringing reefs, with the 
most extensive reef development on their northern shores. 
The Bay Islands lie relatively close to the shore, but 
are also near to the deep water of the Cayman Trench, and 
are surrounded by well developed fringing reefs. The 
typical seaward profile of Roatan s reefs is a gradation 
from terrestrial muds to coarse calcareous sand and 
seagrass beds (mainly Thalassia tesludimim). Sparse 
corals and algae such as Turbinaria and Sargassum occur 



on a limestone pavement about 100-200 meters from 
shore, eventually merging into a spur and groove zone. 
Agaricia tenuifoUa is the principal reef-building species 
in these shallow waters, though in higher energy areas 
Acropora palmata is more common. On the fore reef, at 
10-15 meters, Monlaslrea annularis. ColpophylUa natans 
and Diploria spp. are very abundant, with live coral cover 
averaging 28 percent on the deep fore reef, but ranging 
between 24 and 53 percent in the Sandy Bay/West End 
Marine Reserve. The shelf edge is nearly vertical in many 
places and also has high coral cover, with species of 
Agaricia and colonies of Eusirinlia fastigiata growing 
to an unusually large size. In total, 44 species of 
coral have been recorded here, but a complete inventory 
of marine biodiversity is planned as part of a five-year 
natural resources management project for the Bay Islands. 
Relatively healthy until 1998, the Bay Islands reefs 
experienced extensive bleaching during the El Nino event 
and were damaged during Hurricane Mitch. The most 
pressing threats to reefs in Honduras are a projected 
increase in diving-related tourism and associated mig- 
ration from the mainland. 

The Cayos Cochinos consist of two larger and 12 very 
small volcanic islands. The northern coasts of the larger 



Roatan, in the Bay Islands, Honduras ISTS050-80-52, 19921. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



■'' Honduras 


~^K 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




6 250 


GDP (million US$1 




3 725 


Land area (km^l 




112851 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




238 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


i 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




57 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




810 


Coral diversity 




31 /57 


Mangrove area (km^l 




1 ^58 


No. of mangrove species 




5 


, No. of seagrass species 

r 




^M 



islands are subject to high wave energies and are 
dominated by massive corals, while the southern shores, 
and the more protected shores of the smaller islands, have 
a greater diversity of corals, dominated by Agaricia. There 
are extensive seagrass beds. 

A number of fish stocks are considered to be 
overexploited, and there is a large prawn trawling industry. 
Tourism is a major industry in the Bay Islands, and present 
to a lesser extent in the Cayos Cochinos. 

Efforts to protect the marine resources of the Bay 
Islands have been spearheaded by the local community and 
an unofficial marine reserve has been set up around the West 
End and Sandy Bay. There are several other marine protec- 
ted areas, notably the Cayos Cochinos Biological Reserve, 
which covers the entire island and reef system of this area 
and is actively managed with support from the private sector. 



Nicaragua 



The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua runs for over 350 
kilometers along a north-south axis. Offshore, the coastal 
shelf drops quickly to 20-40 meters then maintains this 
depth to the abrupt shelf edge, which lies some 250 
kilometers from shore in the north but as close as 20 
kilometers in the south. This is significant because 
90 percent of Nicaragua's watersheds drain into the 
Caribbean, and this coast receives more than 3 meters of 
rainfall per year in the north and more than 7 meters per 
year in the south, among the highest precipitation rates in 
the world. The coastal ecology of this country is generally 
quite poorly studied, but the marine resources are believed 
to be extremely important in a regional context. Large 
areas are covered by coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass 



beds, while human impacts are thought to be minimal 
because of the low population density. 

Reefs occur along the entire coastline, but especially 
around the offshore islands, notably the Miskito Cays in 
the north and Corn Cays towards the center of the country. 
These, together with other shelf edge reefs, may be a true 
barrier reef system. Reefs also occur around a group of 
inshore cays: Man O'War Cays, Crawl, Set Net and Taira 
Cays and the Pearl Cays. Seagrass beds, predominately 
Thalassia testudinum. cover huge areas in between the 
mainland, these cays and the shelf edge. Although these 
beds have never been mapped they are believed to be 
some of the most extensive in the Caribbean, if not 
the world, and may provide food and refuge for more 
than half the remaining green turtles Chetonia mydas in 
the Caribbean. Undoubtedly they also play an important 
role as nursery habitat and feeding grounds for coral reef 
fish and invertebrates, and buffer coral reefs from much 
of the low salinity water and sediment flowing from the 
coastal rivers. 

Increased sedimentation from the clearing of forests is 
believed to be responsible for the low coverage of live coral 
on reefs within 25 kilometers of the mainland. The reefs of 
the Miskito Coast Marine Reserve have not been extensively 
surveyed. A total of 27 species of scleractinian corals and 12 
gorgonians have been recorded. However the diversity of 
habitat available and healthy conditions suggest that there 
may be many more species present. The Pearl Cays reefs lie 
close to shore on the edge of a turbid coastal boundary 
current which sometimes enters into this archipelago. In 
1998 these cays supported a thriving community of 
Acropora palmata colonies on their windward eastern sides. 
The reefs of Great Com Island are better known, largely due 



Nicaragua 


■■■ 


General Data 




^n 


Population (thousands) 




A813 


GDP (million US$) 




2 534 


Land area (km^) 




129 047 


Marine area (thousand km^) 




127 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


2 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%) 




58 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^) 




710 


Coral diversity 




22/57 


Mangrove area (km^) 




1 718 


No. of mangrove species 




9 


No. of seagrass species 




1 

J. 







MAPSd 




WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



to the presence of a monitoring site. Most of the shallow 
nearshore reefs have dechned over the last decade so that 
Hve coral cover is now less than 10 percent. An increase in 
sewage is the probable cause, especially because the island 
is quite densely populated (500 people per square kilometer) 
in comparison to the rest of the coast (5 people per square 
kilometer). Waste from two fish processing plants, which 
produce 40 percent of the country's seafood exports, may be 
polluting nearshore waters. Deeper reefs have remained 
more stable, with an average cover of 38 percent algae, 22 
percent hard coral, I percent sponges and 1 percent soft 
corals. No bleaching has been observed. The effects of 
Hurricane Mitch on the coral reefs of Nicaragua in late 1998 
are unknown. 

Indigenous Miskito Indians, together with some other 
communities, use the reefs in the north of the country for 
artisanal fisheries. For the most part this would appear 
sustainable, however the green turtle harvest is very high 
(14 000 per year) and in urgent need of control. Illegal 
fishing from neighboring countries may be reducing fish 
stocks in some places. 




Guatemala and El Salvador 

There are no true reefs in either Guatemala or El Salvador. 
Guatemala has a few small coral communities in the Gulf 
of Honduras, but none are known from its longer Pacific 
coast. El Salvador is reported to have small coral com- 
munities at Los Cobanos although there is no available 
information describing them. 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

I Site name Designation 



Honduras 




Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm:) Year 



Bahia de Chismuyo 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


290.00 


1992 


Cayos Cochinos 


Biological Reserve 


BIR 


V 


i60.00 


1993 


El Jicarito 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


15.41 


1992 


El Quebrachal 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


1.98 


1992 


Guameru 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


1992 


Guapinol 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


1992 


Islas del Cisne 


Marine National Park 


IvINP 


II 


na 


1991 


Jeanette Kavjas 


National Parl< 


NP 


II 


781.62 


1988 


La Alemania 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


1992 


Laguna de Guaymoreto 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


50.00 


1992 


Las Iguanas 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


U.26 


1992 


Montecristo 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


1992 


Punta Isopo 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


112.00 


1992 


Ragged Cay 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


na 


Teonostal 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


na 


1992 


Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas 


Ramsar Site 






781.50 


1995 


Refugio de Vida Silvestre 
Punta Izopo 


Ramsar Site 






112.00 


1996 


Nicaragua 


Cayos Miskitos 


fvlarine Reserve 


RMar 


la 


500.00 


1991 



Queen angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris. 



Western Caribbean 125 



Costa Rica and Panama 



MAPse 





The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is dominated 
by wide areas of alluvial sediments and there 
are considerable riverine inputs. These conditions 
greatly inhibit the development of coral reefs, although 
there are fringing communities at Limon (northwest of 
Isla Uvita) and Punta Cahuita towards the south. Less 
developed coral communities are also found from Puerto 
Viejo to Punta Mona. 

By contrast, Panama has a more complex coastline, 
including rocky shores and two areas of extensive offshore 
islands, and there is some important reef development, 
notably at Bocas del Toro in the west and from Cristobal 
eastwards. The eastern third of Panama's coastline lies in 
a province known as San Bias or the Kuna Yala. From 
Punta San Bias, the 175 kilometer long San Bias 
Archipelago runs parallel to the coast with several 
hundred small nearshore sand cays stretching to the 
Colombian coastline. 

These Caribbean coastlines lie well south of the main 
westward flow of the Caribbean Current. This current sets 
up two counter-clockwise eddies, the first producing 
eastward currents flowing from southern Costa Rica and 
around the Golfo de los Mosquitos, and the second 
sweeping east along the San Bias islands. This area also 



lies to the south of the main Caribbean hurricane belt and 
there has only been one record of a hurricane along the 
Panama coast in the last 120 years. 

In the past three decades the Costa Rican coral 
reefs have suffered a spectacular decline, undoubtedly 
exacerbated by an increase in sedimentation caused by 
deforestation on the mainland. This is particularly appa- 
rent at Cahuita, where live coral cover was 40 percent in 
the late 1970s but had decreased to 11 percent by 1993, 
while the cover of rubble and algae increased from 60 
percent to 90 percent. By 1999, coral cover had declined 
to about 3 percent. In the same period sediment load 
increased significantly. Branching corals suffered particu- 
larly badly. Acropora cervicornis largely disappeared and 
the abundance of Agaricia agariciles decreased by 15 
percent, although it remained the dominant species. 
Massive species were much less affected. For example, 
while the abundance of Porites porites fell by 9 percent, 
Sidemstrea siderea colonies increased in abundance by 
1 6 percent. Part of this decline can be linked to a severe 
earthquake in 1991 which affected the whole of the Costa 
Rican Caribbean coast, in some places causing the reef 
slope to slump. In Limon the reefs largely recovered from 
this event, but they have not done so in Cahuita, possibly 



Left: Densely packed houses in a Kuna village in the San Bias Islands, northeast Panama. The mainland coast remains 
largely undeveloped. Right: The scattered reefs and occasional Islands of the San Bias Archipelago are some of the 
region's best developed reefs. 



MAPse 



?^^^ 




Western Caribbean 



127 



due to intense sedimentation smothering coral recruits as 
they settle onto the substrate. 

In Panama, some 64 hard coral species have been 
recorded off the Caribbean coastline. The mshore reefs at 
Bocas del Toro receive a high sediment load, rich in pesti- 
cides and fertilizers, from mainland banana plantations. 
Reef development is less heavily impacted further 
offshore and live coral cover in these areas remains at 
about 25 percent, reaching as high as 70 percent in some 
places. The Laguna de Chiriqui is lined with extensive 
mangroves and the beaches of the area are still important 
rookeries for hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. Further 
east the reefs near Cristobal and at Punta Galeta have 
experienced little disturbance as they were within a US 
military reservation until the return of the Panama Canal 
to the Panamanian government in 1999. Punta Galeta has 
an emergent reef with a shallow fore reef pavement and a 
substantial coral boulder reef flat which is dominated by 
foliose and crustose algae. During calm weather and low 
tides it is exposed for long periods, up to 30-40 times a 
year, from 1 to 14 hours at a stretch. In the central region, 
proximity to the Panama Canal presents a real and 
continuing threat of oil pollution. A major spill in 1987 
entered into mangrove communities and has continued to 
leach out into the surrounding waters where studies have 
shown significant declines in coral cover and diversity. 

Some of the best developed reefs occur along the San 
Bias coastline. A number of islands and reefs lie on the 
outer edge of the continental shelf as patch reefs or 
fringing reefs around coral cays in a barrier-type structure. 
Further east, the reefs and islands are mostly located closer 
to the shore. Fifty-seven species of scleractinian coral have 
been recorded. This is an area which has better protection 



K^^^^^ Costa R 


ica 


m 


General Data 




m 


Population (thousands) 




3 711 


GDP (million US$) 




7 130 


Land area (km^) 




51 608 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




566 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


i 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%1 




93 


Recorded coral diseases 




2 


Biodiversity 




970 ■ 
25 / 83 ■ ■ 


Reef area Ikm^) 




Coral diversity 




Mangrove area (km^l 




370 


No. of mangrove species 




ll 


No. of seagrass species 


■■ 


id 



than many other reefs in the Caribbean, being an autono- 
mous region run by the Kuna Indians. The mainland coast 
remains heavily forested and so there is little sediment 
runoff. The Kuna have tightly packed villages on 41 of the 
offshore islands, and while all waste from these villages 
passes straight into the surrounding waters, there appears 
to be sufficient dilution in most areas. Growing population 
numbers have led to expansion of some islands by 
reclamation, destroying the reefs in the immediate vicinity. 
Most fishing is subsistence level, but there is some export 
of spiny lobster, conch, spider crab and octopus, and there 
IS evidence of significant target species overfishing for 




A schoolmaster Lutjanus apodus, with tubular sponges and soft corals. Along with other snappers, this species is often 
heavily fished. 



128 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



some of these. Despite the apparently healthy picture 
overall, there have been dramatic reductions in coral cover, 
with equally dramatic increases in algae. In decline since 
the early 1970s, coral cover at various monitoring stations 
averaged 40 percent in 1983, and by 1997 had dropped 
to below 15 percent. Wide areas of Agaricia spp., which 
dominated many patch reefs, have died, and Acropora 
cen'icornis and A. palmata have more or less vanished 
everywhere. The shallow inner reefs of the Golfo de San 
Bias, which were once formed by extensive mounds of 
Porites pontes, have also shown considerable declines. 
Although there is some tourism to these islands, diving 
is not common. 



Eastern Pacific 

The Pacific coastlme of both Costa Rica and Panama is 
strongly affected by extremes of water temperature 
associated with warm El Niiio (~33°C) events and more 
frequent cool upwelling episodes (~15°C). These restrict 
offshore reef development in many areas, while terrestrial 
runoff greatly restricts reef development on mainland 
coasts. In general, reef development is sporadic and 
mostly at point locations around offshore islands. Most 
reefs in this region consist of shallow (less than 10 meters) 
sub-tidal Pocillopora banks bound together with cal- 
careous algae, while Porites lobata is also a major reef 
builder in Costa Rica. Species diversity is low, but 23 
species of hermatypic corals have been recorded on the 
Pacific side of Panama, and 18 in Costa Rica. Despite 
their simple community structure and low diversity, coral 
cover on these small reefs can be very high, reaching over 



Panama 


1 


General Data 




^ 


Population Ithousands) 




2 808 


GDPlmiUion US$1 




7 1U 


Land area (km'l 




7i697 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




332 


Per capita fish consumption 


1 kg/yea r| 


U 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%1 




65 


Recorded coral diseases 




2 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




720 


Coral diversity 




52/84 


Mangrove area (km') 




1 8U 


No. of mangrove species 




12 


No. of seagrass species 




3 



90 percent on healthy reefs. Cores through these reefs 
have shown carbonate accretions up to 10-12 meters 
thick, suggesting vertical accretion rates similar to many 
reefs in the Indo-Pacific. The Pacific reefs were severely 
impacted by the 1982-83 El Nino event, which drove 
mass bleaching and mortality in all areas. In Costa Rica 
recovery has generally been good and, despite repeated 
bleaching in 1992 and 1997-98. coral cover remains high 
in most areas. By contrast, recovery on many reefs in 
Panama has not been great. 

In Costa Rica the main areas with coral communities 
or partial reef development are near Santa Elena, Bahia 
Culebra, Isla del Caiio and Golfo Dulce. Golfo Dulce, in 
eastern Costa Rica, has largely escaped the impacts of El 
Niiio events, although the reefs here have been severely 
affected by sedimentation from deforestation, mining 
and road construction. In 1993 live coral cover was less 
than 2 percent. From the surface to a depth of 1 meter 
the substrate consisted almost entirely of a mesh of 
dead Pocillopora damicornis and Psammocora stellata. 
Severely bio-eroded colonies of Porites lobata. a species 
which is especially resistant to sedimentation, covered 
the fore reef slope to a depth of about 12 meters. Bahia 
Culebra has the most diverse coral reefs on mainland 
Costa Rica, and here coral cover is much higher - some 
20-50 percent - with Pocillopora elegans, Pavona clavus 
and Leptoseris payracea being the dominant species. 
Reefs on Isla del Cano are reported to be in a phase of 
recovery, with high levels of new coral recruitment. 
Recreational diving and unplanned tourism are the main 
threats in Costa Rica, although damage from commercial 
fishing nets and the collection of aquarium organisms has 
also been reported. 



Boats waiting to enter the Panama canal. There is a continuous threat of oil spills, and the ballast water on these 
vessels can contain numerous marine organisms which are sometimes released in other parts of the world, 
threatening native species. 




( 
I 



Western Caribbean 



In Panama, Pacific reefs are best developed around 
offshore islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui in the west and the 
Gulf of Panama m the east. At the latter, the largest areas 
of reef are around Las Perlas Archipelago, a group of 53 
basaltic islands. Reefs are best developed on northern and 
eastern sides, facing away from the upwelling currents. 
These islands were severely impacted by the 1982-83 
bleaching, and live coral cover on some reefs remains 
below 2 percent, although Isia Iguana has over 30 percent. 
In the Gulf of Chiriqui the reefs are less affected by 
upwellings and El Nifio events, and tend to be larger and 
more diverse - these are probably the best developed reefs 
on the continental shelf of the Eastern Pacific. There are 
also some pocilloporid reefs associated with the mainland 
around Ensenada de Muertos. Bahia Honda and Punta 
Entrada. On the offshore islands fringing reefs have clear 
patterns of zonation. Most of these reefs remain 
inaccessible to recreational divers. 

In addition to these reefs. Costa Rica also incor- 
porates the remote Isla del Coco which lies half-way 
between mainland Costa Rica and the Galapagos. This 
island is reported to have coral cover over much of its 
offshore slopes, dominated by Porites lobala. 




Protected areas 


wi 


th coral reefs 








■ 


■ Site name ^^^^^^^^^| 


1 


^B Designatlon^^J^^^I 


1 Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikm'l 


YearB 


Costa Rica 














Cabo Blanco 




Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


la 


11.72 


1963 


Cahuita 




National Park 


NP 


II 


U0.22 


1970 


Gandoca-ManzaniUo 




National Wildlife Refuge 


NWR 


IV 


94.i9 


1985 


Isla del Cafio 




Biological Reserve 


BiR 


la 


2.00 


1978 


Isla del Coco 




National Park 


NP 


II 


23.6^ 


1978 


Manuel Antonio 




National Park 


NP 


II 


6.82 


1972 


Marino Ballena 




National Park 


NP 


II 


42.00 


1990 


Area de Conservacion Guanacaste 


World Heritage Site 






1 310.00 


1999 


Cocos Island National Park 




World Heritage Site 






997.00 


1997 
1995 
1998 


Gandoca-Manzanillo 




Ramsar Site 






94.45 


Isla del Coco 




Ramsar Site 






996.23 


Panama 










3 200.00 
132.26 
359.29 


■ 

1938 
1988 
1976 


Comarca Kuna Yala (San Bias) 




Indigenous Commarc 


IndCo 


na 


Isla Bastimentos 




National Park 


NP 


II 


Portobelo 




National Park 


NP 


II 


Punta Patii^o 




Ramsar Site ' 






138.05 


1993 





A Kuna Indian in Panama with a catch of spiny lobster Panulirus argus. 



130 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Colombia and Ecuador 



MAPsf 




Colombia enjoys 1 700 kilometers of Caribbean 
coastline, but coral reefs are restricted to less than 
150 kilometers, located away from major estuaries 
and sediment plumes. The Caribbean Current forms a gyre 
in the Colombian Basin, moving water in a north to 
northeasterly direction off the Colombian coast. This 
creates localized upwellings, brmging cold water to the 
surface and further curtailing the distribution of coral 
reefs. Reefs occur off Acandi in the far west and Punto 
Lopez in the east, but the most extensive structures are 
those off Santa Marta (at Punta Betin, Isla Morro Grande. 
Bahia Granate, Bahia Chengue and Bahia Gayraca) and 
Cartagena (at Islas de San Bernardo and Islas del 
Rosario). Several hundred kilometers northwest of 
Colombia there are a number of islands and reefs which 
also form part of Colombia (although they actually lie 
closer to Nicaragua! on the Nicaraguan Rise. These 
include the larger populated islands of San Andres and 
Providencia, but also a number of shallow reefs including 
those on the banks of Quitasuefio, Serrana and Roncador, 
and the atolls of Courtown and Albuquerque. 

All the reefs off Santa Marta and Cartagena have 
experienced great changes in the last 20 years. The live 
coral cover at the Islas del Rosario declined from 41 



percent in 1983 to 21 percent in 1990, concomitant with a 
threefold rise in algae cover. Similar though less severe 
changes have occurred in the Islas de San Bernardo. The 
most affected species were the acroporids which lost 
about 80 percent of their live cover, then Agaricia 
tenuifolia and Porites porites which suffered 30-40 
percent mortality. Between 6 and 12 percent of Diploria 
sthgosa. Montastrea annularis and Siderastrea siderea 
also died over the same period. This change has been 
attributed to a combination of bleaching, coral disease and 
pollution from the area's major cities and ports. There 
appears to be a gradient in reef state moving eastwards 
from Santa Marta, with 19 percent live coral cover at 
Punta Betin, 37 percent at Bahia Granate and 49 percent at 
Bahia Gayraca in 1993. 

The offshore reefs, coral banks and atolls on the 
Nicaraguan Rise are well developed and diverse, with 44 
scleractinian corals recorded off San Andres. But unfortu- 
nately these complexes, which represent about 75 percent 
of the total coral reef area in Colombia, also appear to be 
in decline. San Andres is a densely populated island with 
80 000 people living on less than 25 square kilometers, and 
a major tourist destination. Here coral cover has declined 
by about half - mortality in excess of 50 percent from 



Broad view of the Galapagos Islands, with Fernandina and Isabels in the fore. Coral reef development in these islands is 
restricted to very sma// structures ISTS068- 168-28, 199il. 



10° 



^.- 



14° 



y ^^'l" ""SerranaBank 



77° 



S Islade 
Providencia 



Cayo de Roncador 



N 

+ 



73° 



Jayrona NatNP 

. bos Flamencos FFS 



69° 



MAPSf 
14' 



Cayos de Albuquerque 



CARIBBEAN SEA 



Bahia Gayraca 
Isia de Bahia Chengue 

Salamanca „ l- r . ,. 



Aruba (NETH. 

(NETHERLANDS) ANTILLES) 

S ^^Curifao 

5j, Bonaire 

s s - 



Ciinaga Grande de 
Santa Marta FFS 



•Riohacha', Golfode 

Venezuela 



■^ 



Cora/es del Rosario NatNP ^ Cartagena 

Islas de Rosario Sistema Delta Estuarino 

■ del Rio Magdalene. 

_. Islas de San Bemado "7 -^ 9^"f 9g Grande de 

^- — /••'V ' Santa Ramsar Site 



Sierra Nevada de • Maracaibo 
Santa Marta NatNP 



\ Puns 
Tucacast Lopez 



Lagode 
Manicaibo 



Barquisimeto 
VENEZUELA 



Valencia ^'^Q> 



PANAMAsi ^Y 



■ M 



c 



i, *ii^, ^ Acandi* 



Golfode 
Uraba 



b 



Ensenada de 
Utrla NatNP 



V 



PACIFIC OCEAN 



Isia de Malpelo FFS 



Isia Goojona NatNP 



Bajo Baiid6 



Medellln • 
» 

■Oulbdo 

COLOMBL\ 

Ibague* 

Scall 



Sanquianga NatNP 



Senanilla Bank Bajo Nuevo 



CARIBBEAN SEA 



Quitasueflo 1 
Bank J 



Isia de 3 
Providencia 



SertanaBank 

COLOMBLAl 

^ Cayo de Roncador 



Old Providence 
McBeenLsgoon 
NelNP 
Isia de San 
AndrtscTT Cayos del E.S.E. 
^ (Courtown Cays) 
4 



SO 100 150 km 



•^.■■' Cayos de 
Albuquerque 
sr 



-- Cayos Hemes a 
Cayos Cotton INR 



f- 



Bahia de Cardquez * « ^ 
Manta 

• Porto Viejo 

Machalllla NP and 
Ramsar Site 



ECUADOR 



Guayaquil .•, Manglares Chunite ER 
Jfii% ^"^ Ramsar Site 

Machala 



Tumbes <# < 



Mancora^ 
Talara • 



6" 






PERU 



60 120 180 240 30 km 

81° " ' " TT 



WXI 90'00' 




PACIFIC OCEAN 


\ 




L Culpepper Galapagos Islands 
ECUADOR 






.' I. Wenman 




I'OO' 


GalipagosMRR \ GalipagosNP 
■^ I (land area only) 




Galapagos Islands 
World Heritage Site 

I. Pinta 




I. Marchena 




I. Genovesa 




Archipiilago de Coldn 

(Galapagos) Biosphere 
LFeraandina ' ' I. San Salvador "^sen/e 


* 


0'30' 




r^, 1. Santa Cruz 




ll^^'^'^ L San Cristobal 




V 

L Santa Maria LEspafioIa 




50 100 160 km 









';f 



6° 



73° 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




1968 to 1992 was recorded for 19 species - and reefs have 
come to be dominated (upwards of 70 percent cover) by 
algae in the wake of the Diadema mortality of 1983. More 
than 90 percent of Gorgonia venlaliiia colonies have died 
and only small specimens remain. Large fish such as 
snappers, groupers, grunts, queen triggerfish, hogfish and 
barracuda are almost absent from San Andres. In the late 
1960s a subsistence fishery supplied the local hotels with 
all these species. Now either fish is imported or previ- 
ously uneaten species are collected (parrotfish. surgeonfish 
and angelfish). The more remote reefs of Courtown, 
Albuquerque, Serrana. Roncador and Quitasuefio appear 



Colom 


bia 




General Data 






Population (thousandsl 




39 686 


GDP ImiUion US$1 




51 800 


Land area Ikm^l 




1 U1 957 


Marine area (thousand km^! 




750 


Per capita fish consumption 


Ikg/yearl 


5 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




44 


Recorded coral diseases 




6 


Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikm^l 




940 


Coral diversity 




49/77 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 




3 659 


No. of mangrove species 




11 


No. of seagrass species 




na 




to be showing signs of a similar decline, with a low pro- 
portion of live coral cover, and depletion of a number of 
commercially important fish stocks. While overfishing may 
be causing the latter, the demise of the corals themselves 
may be indicative of a Caribbean-wide decline. 

There are a few small reef developments along the 
Pacific coast of Colombia, most notably at Tebada and 
Ensenada de Utria. These are small fringing and patch 
reefs and are relatively young, developed over the basalt 
rocks of the Cordillera del Baudo. They are formed by 
no more than a half dozen scleractinian corals, mostly 
Pocillopora spp The reefs of the Ensenada de Utria are 
protected in a national park. Given the remote location, 
human influence in this area is low. However, the reefs 
were heavily impacted, with coral bleaching and mortality 
caused by the recent El Nifio. In addition to this area, 
there are fringing and patch reefs around the coast of Isla 
Gorgona. particularly on its eastern shores. These reefs are 
protected within a national park. Far offshore, the oceanic 
island of Malpelo also has some important coral com- 
munities down to depths of 35 meters. 

Coral cover is very high on some of these Pacific 
reefs. Despite the 1982-83 El Nino event, which caused 
widespread mortality, including the decline of live coral 
cover in Isla Gorgona from 70 percent to 15 percent, there 
has been a rapid and nearly complete recovery, and in 
1998 coral cover was estimated to be almost 60 percent. 
At one site on Malpelo island, live coral cover was 65 
percent in 1972 and is now at 45 percent. 

Colombia has designated a number of protected areas 
containing coral reefs. The Caribbean ones are generally 
larger, but these suffer more notable problems of manage- 
ment and some illegal activities continue. 



Left: The Serrana Bank, Colombia. An isolated reef structure in the Caribbean Sea ISTS080-7W-46, 19961. Right: Algae are 
now forming a dominant part of the community in many of Colombia s offshore reefs. 



Western Caribbean 



Ecuador 

A few coral communities occur on the mainland coast of 
Ecuador and one true reef at Machalilla. However, it is in 
the Galapagos Islands that reefs are best developed. This 
archipelago is influenced by a major surface current, the 
South Equatorial Current, which flows from the east, 
largely fed by the cool Peru Oceanic Current (20-24°C) 
and the colder Peru Coastal Current (15°C), This current 
is strongly driven by the nearly constant southeast trade 
winds, while additional impetus is given by the Panama 
Current which flows south from the Panama Bight in 
December to January. Below the South Equatorial 
Current, an easterly Equatorial Undercurrent is generated 
at a depth of 100 meters, which is deflected to the surface 
by Fernandina and Isabela. Cool nutrient-rich water is 
therefore present all year round (except during El Nifio 
events) and this restricts coral growth and reef develop- 
ment to the eastern sides of Isabela. Santa Cruz and the 
northern coasts of San Cristobal. 

For the most part these reefs are poorly developed 
patches and do not form true fringing structures. Species 
diversity is also low. Although the reefs are well protected 
there have been some impacts from bleaching and bio- 
erosion. Fishing pressures have recently increased drama- 
tically in a few areas, notably for the export trade in sea 
cucumbers and shark. Significant bleaching also impacted 
these reefs, both in 1982-83 and in 1997-98. with both 
events causing considerable coral mortality. 

Although the overall human population is low in the 



Galapagos, the fishing lobby is significant and powerful. 
In nearshore waters, the most important industrial fish- 
eries include lobster and sea cucumber, while numbers of 
fishers have grown considerably. The number of lobster 
fishers alone grew from 500 in 1999 to nearly I 000 in 2000. 
Efforts to place restrictions on these industries have led to 
considerable hostility and violence by the fishers, but also to 
some weakening of catch limits as a form of appeasement. 



^^1 


or 




General Data 






Population (thousands! 




12 920 


GDP Imillion US$1 




13 008 


Land area Ikm^l 




256 925 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 06i 


Per capita fish consumption 


Ikg/yearj 


8 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk |%1 




16 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikiri'l 




<50 


Coral diversity 




25/23 


Mangrove area (km^l 




2^69 


No. ol mangrove species 




7 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



^Protected areas with 


1 , ^ 

coral reefs 


^" 






■■ 


H Site name 




Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size IkmM 


Y..r 


Colombia 


Corales del Rosario 




Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


1 200.00 


1977 


Ensenada de Utria 




Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


543.00 


1987 


Isla de Malpelo 




Fauna and Flora Sanctuary 


FFS 


la 


na 


1995 


Isla Gorgona 




Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


492.00 


1984 


Old Providence McBean 


Lagoon 


Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


9.95 


1996 


Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta 


Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


3 830.00 


1959 


Tayrona 




Natural National Park 


NatNP 


II 


150.00 


1964 


Ecuador 


Galapagos 




Marine Resource Reserve 


MRR 


IV 


79 900.00 


1986 


Archipielago de Colon 
(Galapagos) 




UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






7 665.U 


1984 
1978 


Galapagos Islands 




World Heritage Site 






7 665.U 


Machalilla 




Ramsar Site 






550.95 


1990 





MAP 59 




Western Caribbean 135 



Cuba 



MAPsg 



' - 


^-,._^--S»jlPL -^■ll|bB-S. 


^-^•r^'- 








^'^.i^^.^^;^ 


^5^ i 


...... r-" » 






.•iil)^**.. .^^.^ 


*i: ,*»;^''"*'^*: >' >^. ^x 



Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands, with a 
long, complex coastline and considerable chains of 
offshore islands and coral cays. Coral reefs stretch 
along virtually the entire border of the Cuban shelf The 
majority of these lie offshore in long tracts which resemble 
barrier reefs, separated from the main island by broad 
lagoons. The longest runs for some 400 kilometers along 
the north coast from the Archipielago de Sabana to the 
Archipielago de Camaguey. On the south coast a similar reef 
tract stretches for over 350 kilometers from Trinidad to Cabo 
Cruz. Unlike true barrier reefs, the lagoons behind these 
reef tracts are very shallow. In most cases these wide 
lagoons, together with the long archipelagos of small coral 
cays which lie on their outer edges, have protected the reefs 
from adverse anthropogenic impacts. Hurricanes are more 
frequent in the south and west where the reef communities 
are dominated by species resistant to sedimentation and 
water movement, especially in the Gulf of Batabano. 

Only short stretches of coast have been heavily 
urbanized or industrialized. For these reasons, pollution 
tends to be localized: less than 3 percent of reefs in Cuba are 
believed to be affected by a significant degree of organic 
pollution. Many of the reefs appear to have shown a gen- 
eral increase in algal cover, probably associated with the 



Diadema die-off which has affected the rest of the region. 
Populations of the urchin in Cuba show no signs of 
recovery, so algal species such as Cladophora catenata, 
Microdictyon marinum, Lohophora variegata. Diclyota 
spp., Sargassum spp. and Halimeda spp. achieve biomass 
figures as high as 3 kilos per square meter This occurs on 
reefs which are far from sources of organic pollution and 
may indicate that the changes are part of the Caribbean- wide 
impacts of Diadema die-off and loss of Acropora spp. to 
disease, rather than a result of direct anthropogenic impacts. 
In terms of reef fish, Cuban populations have higher 
biomass. species richness and average size than many other 
countries in the region, but these parameters were declining 
in the 1980s and 1990s due to overfishing. In 1998, coral 
bleaching was reported to have been severe on all coasts, 
although bleaching-related mortality was low. 

Levels of sewage, organic and inorganic pollution are 
high in Havana Bay and this has caused the diversity 
of scleractinians, sponges and gorgonians to decline 
severely. These reefs are now dominated by just a few 
species of scleractinian corals, mainly Sideraslrea radians, 
by the sponges Clathria venosa and lotrochota birolulata, 
and by the gorgonians Plexaura homomalla, P. flexuosa or 
Pseudoplexawa spp. 



Nuevitas Bay In northeast Cuba. The fringing reefs offshore are clearly visible, while there are important mangrove 
communities around the lagoon INM23-729-782, 19971 



136 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




Cuba 




General Data 




Population Ithousandsl 


11 U2 


GDP (million US$) 


U69i 


Land area (km^l 


110/137 


Marine area (thousand km^] 


3/15 


Per capita fish consumption |kg/year| 


13 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%l 


Ub 


Recorded coral diseases 


1 


Biodiversity 




Reef area (km2| 


3 020 


Coral diversity 


29/57 


Mangrove area (km^) 


7 8/i8 


No. of mangrove species 


5 


No. of seagrass species 


4 



Fishing plays a very important role in the Cuban 
economy, both as a generator of foreign exchange and as a 
source of protein. In general, catches rose systematically 
during 1960-75, leading to the overfishing of species such 
as the lane snapper Lutjanus symigris in the Gulf of 
Batabano, the Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus and 
queen conch Strombiis gigas across the whole Cuban shelf, 
and shrimps (Penaeus spp.) on the southern shelf The 
decline in lane snappers led to their replacement by grunts 
m the Gulf of Batabano, which are of lower food quality 
and commercial value. The proliferation of grunts subse- 
quently prevented recuperation of the lane snapper stocks, 
in spite of the imposition of severe administrative and 
protective measures. The overfishing of queen conch was 
based mainly on the illegal extraction of the meat as bait 
(with a rough estimate of more than 1 500 tons per year), 
or for selling the shells as curios. Closed seasons during 
the breeding period (April-September), the prohibition of 
catching juveniles, and quotas have all been implemented. 
Two assessments suggested a slight recovery in the south 
of Cuba stock in Cabo Cruz in 1990. and another in the 
south of the Gulf of Batabano in 1991. The spiny lobster 
Panulirus argus is another resource closely linked to coral 
reefs and since 1 978 catches have \aried between 1 1 000 
and 13 000 tons per year However, this harvest is mainly 
based on lobsters in the seagrass beds in the Gulf of 
Batabano rather than in the reefs themselves, where an 
important reproductive population remains. Annual lobster 
exports were valued at US$100 million in the late 1990s. 

The collection of black coral for ornamental jewellery 
has continued for four decades and, as a consequence, 
stocks have been depleted in some places, especially the 
shallower waters along the north of Pinar del Rio Province, 
in Matanzas Bay, Puerto de Sagua and Cazones Gulf 

The Cuban government announced in 1995 that 
gross domestic product had declined by 35 percent during 
1989-93, a decline closely related to the loss of aid from 
the former USSR and economic sanctions imposed by the 
USA. Although there has been some economic growth 
since then, living standards remain at a depressed level 
compared with 1990. Fluctuations in the price of nickel and 
sugar have compelled the state to open up areas for tourism 
development, and this industry now plays a key role in 
generating foreign currency earnings. However, regulations 
for the protection of coral reefs directed at both tourists and 
tour guides are not yet fully implemented. Physical damage 
and the extraction of stony corals and other organisms 
are degrading the reefs in some tourist areas, such as the 
reefs of Rincon de Guanabo and Puerto Escondido to 
the northeast of Havana Province. The effects of coastal 
construction are generally unmonitored. At the end of the 
1 990s the tourist industry largely catered for the European 
market, but enormous expansion is to be expected if the 
political situation between Cuba and the USA changes. 



A trumpetfish Aulostomus maculatus amongst soft corals. 



Western Caribbean 




25 km 



Within the southeastern province of Guantanamo 
there is a large US Naval Base, covering some 1 14 square 
kilometers along the sheltered coast of Guantanamo Bay. 
Although not under US sovereignty, the lease of the base 
area is held until the US government agrees to relinquish 
it. The area includes considerable military developments 



and associated recreational facilities, and much of the bay 
area has been dredged and degraded. Despite this, there 
are some coral communities, and recreational diving is 
practiced by personnel. The beach and waters of Cuzco 
Beach have been declared a preserve, dredging is 
prohibited and visitor numbers restricted. 



Protected areas with coral reefs 



Designation 



Dreviation lUCN cat. Size ikmzi Year 



Cuba 



Cienaga de Zapata 



National Park 



NP 



Punta Frances - 
Punta Pederales 



Parque Nacional Marino 



PNM 



na 
\lk.2U 



Cayo Coco/Cayo GuiUermo 


Touristic Natural Area 


TNA 


V 


320.00 


1986 


Cayo Romano 


National Park 


NP 


V 


920.00 


1986 


Cayo Sablnal 


Touristic Natural Area 


TNA 


V 


335.00 


na 


Cayos de Ana Maria 


Wildlife Refuge 


WRef 


IV 


69.00 


na 



na 
1985 



Subarchipielago de Jardines 
de la Reina 


Integrated Management Area 


IMA 


V 


305.80 


na 


Subarchipielago de los Canarreos 


Integrated Management Area 


IMA 


V 


331.10 


na 


Subarchipielago de Sabana - 
Camaguey 


Integrated Management Area 


IMA 


V 


1 789.08 


na 


Sur Isla de la Juventud 


National Park 


NP 


V 


800.00 


1992 


BUENAVISTA 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






3 135.00 


2000 


Cienaga de Zapata 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






6 253.54 


2000 


CUCHILLAS DEL TOA 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






1 275.00 


1987 


Desembarco del Granma 
National Park 


World Heritage Site 






418.63 


1999 


Peninsula de Guanahacabibes 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






1 015.00 


1987 





Left: Golfo de Guacanayabo in southeast Cuba. Reef development in this shallow water has formed complex reticulated 
structures INM23-729-780, 19971. Right: Schoolmasters Lutjanus apodus. These snappers are more regularly observed on 
remote reefs which are less heavily fished. 



MAP5h 




Western Caribbean 139 



Jamaica 



MAPsh 




Jamaica is the third largest island in the Greater 
Antilles and is located in the center of the Caribbean 
Sea. Cuba. 150 kilometers north, moderates the 
effects of the northeast trade winds on the fringing reefs 
of the north coast, which grow on a narrow shelf Patchy 
reef formations on the south coast, punctuated by rivers 
and sediment slopes, grow on a wider shelf extending up 
to 20 kilometers offshore. Reefs and corals also grow 
on nine offshore banks, notably at the Pedro Cays, 70 
kilometers south, and the Morant Cays, 50 kilometers to 
the southeast. Coral cover on the mainland fringing reefs 
is low, although this was not always the case (see below). 
Cretaceous basement rocks are covered by Tertiary 
limestone, and on the north coast by Pleistocene reef 
deposits. Past changes in sea level have created terraces 
above and below present sea level to form raised or 
drowned cliffs. There are two wet seasons, in October 
and May, and two dry seasons. The water temperature 
on the north coast ranges from 26 to 30°C. The weather, 
particularly on the north coast, is dominated by the 
northeast trade winds, occasionally interrupted by cold 
fronts from North America in winter. Two of the most 
severe hurricanes on record, Allen and Gilbert, hit Jamaica 
in the 1980s, with significant impacts on the coral reefs. 



M M 1 M M I 10 km 

Jamaica has a long history of exploiting its marine 
resources. Since early colonial days there was a sub- 
stantial import of fish to feed the growing population, 
including turtle meat from the Cayman Islands, and dried 
fish from North America. Fishing the immediate offshore 
waters was also undertaken, but the maximum yield of 
some 1 1 000 tons offish per year in the 1960s was clearly 
unsustainable and fish stocks have now collapsed. 
Overfishing is particularly bad on the north coast, where 
the narrow coastal shelf concentrates fishing into a 
smaller area, while making the shallow reef communities 
more accessible. Many of the fish now caught have not yet 
attained reproductive maturity, and it has been suggested 
that reef fish stocks in Jamaica may be being supple- 
mented by fish larvae from other parts of the Caribbean. 
The offshore banks are also heavily fished, and there is a 
large conch fishery on Pedro Bank. 

Jamaican reefs are further stressed by human impacts 
resulting from terrestrial activities, including sedimen- 
tation caused by soil erosion, but more particularly from 
nutrient pollution. Coastal development has been rapid in 
many parts of Jamaica, encouraged by massive tourism 
developments. In many areas sewage receives little or 
no treatment. 



Portland Bight in southern Jamaica. This important area for coral reefs and mangroves was declared a protected area 
in 1999, and has full community involvement in its management ISTS065-95-82, 199il. 



140 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas with coral reefs 



Site name 
Jamaica 



Designation 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm'i Year 



Bogue 


Fisheries Sanctuary 


FS 


IV 


na 


1979 


Middle Morant Cay 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


na 


na 


na 


Montego Bay 


Marine Park 


MP 


1! 


15.30 


1991 


Negril 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


na 


1998 


Ocho Rios 


Protected Area 


PA 


V 


na 


1966 


Portland Bight 


Protected Area 


PA 


V 


1 876.15 


1999 



The combined effects of hurricanes and the regional 
die-off of Diadema are particularly well understood in 
Jamaica. Here, as elsewhere, the urchin was a major 
herbivore on reefs before 1983. and its disappearance, 
combined with severe hurricanes and white band disease, 
has resulted in a dramatic shift in Jamaica's reef from 
coral-dominated communities to those dominated by 
algae. Hurricane Allen, in 1980, caused the destruction 
of most of the dominant shallow reef-building colonies of 
Acropora patmata and A. cervicornis, which led to the 
temporary abundance of species such as Agaricia 
agaricites, with smaller encrusting and plate-like growth 
forms. There was a partial recovery from the impacts of 
this hurricane and new coral growth was recorded. 
However, the Diadema die-off led to considerable algal 
growth, with small ephemeral species being replaced by 
large macroalgae. leading to mortality amongst the 
Agaricia species and preventing further recruitment by 
juvenile corals. Hurricane Gilbert did destroy large 
amounts of algae but the bare spaces created were more 
rapidly reeolonized by algae than by the slow-growing 
corals, suggesting that a new stable ecosystem had been 
created which is algal rather than coral-dominated. White 
band disease has further decimated Acropora populations 
and, over the last ten years, black band and yellow band 
disease have impacted some areas. Live coral cover at 
multiple sites along the coastline declined from over 50 
percent in the late 1970s to less than 5 percent in the early 
1990s. By the late 1990s, coral cover increased again to 
10-15 percent at depths of 5-15 meters, partly due to 
increases in the abundance of Diadema in these shallow 
waters. Deeper reefs have been less severely impacted by 
these various events, particularly on the southern shelf 
edge where some active Acropora growth continues. It is 
postulated that increased herbivory could bring back the 
former high cover of coral, but herbivorous fish remain 
chronically overfished. 



Jamaica's reefs have been well studied by scientists 
for several decades, notably through the work undertaken 
from the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory. Efforts to 
reverse some of the many problems facing the country 
are beginning in some areas, and a number of marine 
protected areas have been declared. Active management, 
with full community involvement, .s being pursued in a 
number of these, notably Montego Bay. Negril and the 
recently declared Portland Bight Protected Area. 



^^^^B 


'-^ 9 


^^^^U^^^ 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




2 653 


GDP (million US$1 




/i383 


Land area (km^j 




11 OAA 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




251 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


17 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk 1%) 




99 


Recorded coral diseases 




5 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




1 2i0 


Coral diversity 




36/57 


Mangrove area (km^j 




106 


No. of mangrove species 




5 


No. of seagrass species 




3 



Western Caribbean 



1A1 



Cayman Islands 



MAPsi 



The Cayman Islands are Overseas Territories of 
the UK and consist of three islands: Grand Cayman, 
Cayman Brae and Little Cayman. All are very 
low-lying, with a maximum elevation of only 42 meters. 
Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are situated on either side 
of the Oriente Transform Fault, which also separates the 
south coast of Cuba from Jamaica. The Cayman Trough, to 
the east of Jamaica and the southeast of Grand Cayman, 
is actively spreading at the mid-Cayman Rise. Weather 
patterns in the Caymans are broadly similar to those in 
Jamaica, but the eastern islands are generally drier than 
Grand Cayman. 

The reefs of the Cayman Islands are similar to each 
other. Grand Cayman has a narrow carbonate shelf which 
rarely exceeds 1.5 kilometers in width, and which is fre- 
quently much narrower. The fringing reefs often have well 
defined spur and groove formations, below which there are 
two distinct terraces: one at about 9 meters deep, the other at 
12-16 meters. This second deeper terrace plunges vertically 
into the abyssal depths of the Cayman Trench. Coral cover is 
generally high. Historically, Grand Cayman had one of the 
largest green turtle rookeries in the Caribbean. The turtles 
were exported to Jamaica as a major food source during 
the early days of colonial rule, and it has been estimated 
that some 1 3 000 individuals were exported armually in 
the early 18th century, before the fishery collapsed through 
overfishing towards the end of the century. 

There has been a remarkable expansion in the Cayman 
Islands over the last 30 years. The resident population 
has grown from 8 500 to 30 000, while the economy has 
boomed. The Islands are a thriving offshore financial center, 
with more than 40 000 registered companies in 1997, 
including almost 600 banks and trust companies whose 
assets currently exceed USS500 billion. Despite this, 
tourism is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for 
about 70 percent of gross domestic product and 75 percent 
of foreign currency earnings. The tourist industry is aimed 
at the luxury market and caters mainly for visitors from 
North America. Numbers are very high, with some 1.4 
million visitors arriving annually. About 40 percent of these 
visitors go diving, attracted by the easy access to clear 
waters and sheer drop-offs. 

Most of the pressure on the reefs arises from the 
massive, tourist-focussed development. Pollution and the 
contamination of groundwater by sewage are potential 
problems, as is overfishing. The deeper reefs off George 
Town have been destroyed by the continual anchoring of 




{■■■■IBl 


W 


^^IHHI 


Cayman 1 


Islands 


^^Hj 


General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




35 


GDP (million US$1 




612 


Land area (kmz| 




277 


Marine area (thousand km^ 


^1 


119 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


na 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




100 


Recorded coral diseases 




3 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




230 


Coral diversity 




35/57 


Mangrove area (km^j 




71 


No. of mangrove species 




3 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



Dive tourism in the Cayman Islands is a critical part of the island's economy. 



MAPsi 







a: 

aa 








i|S| I Sl|| 



i|S 



Western Caribbean 



143 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

iSite name ^ 

Cayman Islands 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm^i Year 



I 



Bats Cave Beach (Grand Caymanl 



Replenishment Zone 



Victoria House - 

Sand Cay Apartments (Grand Caymanl 



Marine Parl< 



West Bay Cemetery - 

Victoria House (Grand Caymanl 



Replenishment Zone 



RpZ 



MP 



RpZ 



IV 



IV 



0.31 



8.01 



0.69 



1986 



Bloody Bay - 

Jacl<5on Point [Little Caymanl 


Marine Parl< 


MP 


II 


1.61 


1986 


Bowse Bluff - 

Rum Point (Grand Caymanl 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


0.60 


1986 


Cayman Dive Lodge 
(Grand Cayman] 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


0.04 


1986 


Coral Isle Club (Cayman Bracl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


0.01 


1986 


Dick Sessingers Bay - 
Beach Point (Cayman Bracl 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


1.43 


1986 


Franl^ Sound (Grand Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


2.24 


1986 


Head of Baricers - 
Flats (Grand Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


3.65 


1986 


Jennifer Bay - Deep Well 
(Cayman Bracl 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


0.61 


1986 


Little Sound (Grand Caymanl 


Environmental Zone 


EnvZ 


lb 


17.31 


1986 


Mary's Bay - East Point 
(Little Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


1.80 


1986 


North Sound (Grand Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


33.10 


1986 


North West Point - 

West Bay Cemetery (Grand Caymanl 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


1.55 


1986 


Preston Bay - 

Main Channel (Little Caymanl 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


0.81 


1986 


Radio Mast - 

Sand Bluff (Grand Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


1.77 


1986 


Salt Water Point - 

Beach Point (Cayman Bracl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


0.26 


1986 


South Hole Sound (Little Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


3.16 


1986 


South Sound (Grand Caymanl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


3.17 


1986 


Spott Bay (Cayman Bracl 


Replenishment Zone 


RpZ 


IV 


0.33 


1986 



1986 



1986 



A^ 



cruiseships, and nearby shallow reefs have been damaged by 
the resulting sedimentation. There are also direct concerns 
about the carrying capacity of dive sites and there have been 
some declines in fish stocks associated with overfishing. 
There was large-scale bleaching of corals in 1987, and even 
more severe bleaching in 1995-96 and 1998. In addition, 
white band disease has been reported. 

There is reason for optimism, however Diadema died 



out in 1983 but this did not result in an algal bloom because 
grazing fish were still abundant, and in 1998 the Diadema 
seemed to be recovering in areas on west Grand Cayman. 
Acropora species are still common, although impacted by 
storms. A comprehensive system of marine protected areas 
has been established covering 34 percent of the coastal 
waters of the islands, enforced by a number of guards, and 
also regularly subject to detailed monitoring. 



144 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



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Mexico. Bull Mar Sc/ 42(1]: 133-144, 
Fenner DP 119911. Effects of Hurricane Gilbert on coral reefs. 

fishes and sponges at Cozumel, Mexico. Bull Mar Sci 48(31: 

719-730. 
Glynn PW, Morales GEL 119971. Coral reefs of Huatulco, West 

Mexico: reef development in upwelling Gulf of Tehuantepec. 

Revista de Biologia Tropical A5{3]: 1033-1047. 
Grigg PW, Ault JS (20001. A biogeographic analysis and review 

of the far eastern Pacific coral reef region. Coral Reefs 

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Comparacion de arrecifes coralinos: Veracruz y Quintana 

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Ketchum JT, Reyes Bonilla H 119971. Biogeography of 

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Reyes Bonilla H, Lopez Perez A 119981. Biogeography of the 

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BELIZE 

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HONDURAS, NICARAGUA, 
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1A5 



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Alcolado PM, Claro R, Menendez G, Martinez-Daranas B 
(1997!. General status of Cuban coral reefs. Proc 8th Int 
Coral ReefSymp: 341-344. 

Williams D (1999!, Diving and Snorkelling Cuba. Lonely Planet 
Publications, Hawthorn, Australia. 

JAMAICA 

Brucl<ner AW, Bruckner RJ etal (1997!. Spread of a blac(<-band 

disease epizootic through the coral reef system in St Ann's 

Bay, Jamaica. Bull MarSc/61(3!: 919-928. 
Goreau TF (1959!. The ecology of Jamaican coral reefs. I. 

Species composition and zonation. Ecology AO: 67-90. 
Hughes TP (1994). Catastrophes, phase-shifts, and large-scale 

degradation of a Caribbean coral reef. Science 265(51781: 

1547-1551. 
Sary Z, Oxenford HA et al (1997). Effects of an increase in trap 

mesh size on an overexploited coral reef fishery at Discovery 

Bay, Jamaica, fvlar Ecol Prog Ser ]bi: 107-120. 



THE CAYMAN ISLANDS 

Blanchon P, Jones B et al (1997). Anatomy of a fringing reef 
around Grand Cayman: storm rubble, not coral framework 
J Sedimentary Res 67\] PlAI: 1-16. 

Ghiold J, Smith SH (1990). Bleaching and recovery of deep- 
water, reef-dwelling invertebrates in the Cayman Islands, 
BWI. Car/fc J So 261 1-21: 52-61. 

Jones B, Hunter KG, Hunter NG, Hunter IG (1997). Geology and 
hydrogeology of the Cayman Islands. In: Vacher ML, Quinn T 
(edsl. Developments in Sedimentology, 54: Geology and 
Hydrology of Carbonate Islands. Elsevier Science BV, 
Amsterdam, Netherlands. 



Map sources 

Maps 5a and 5b 

For the Yucatan Peninsula, reefs and coastline have been 
combined from Hydrographic Office (1995) and Jordan- 
Dahlgren (19931. Sources for the former include various finer 
resolution charts and surveys from 1820-47 and 1980-1989, 
while the latter is based on multiple high resolution sources, 
combined with expert knowledge, transferred onto maps at a 
scale of 1:250 000 base maps for the mainland coast, but not 
offshore reefs. Further reefs have been added, largely for the 
Gulf of Mexico, using maps at various scales presented in 
Bezaury-Creel et al (1997). Additional point data for small 
named reefs in the eastern Bahia de Campeche and the 
Campeche Bank have been added using geographic co- 
ordinates from the same report. The reefs off Cozumel island 
are approximate, and are based on a tourist map of the island. 
Data for the Pacific Coast are largely taken from UNEP/IUCN 
(1988a)*, which was prepared at a scale of 1:10 000 000. 
Bezaury-Creel J, Macias Ordonez R, Garcia Beltran G, Castillo 
Arenas G, Pardo Caicedo N. Ibarra Navarro R, Loreto Viruet 
A (1997). Implementation of the International Coral Reef 
Initiative (ICRII in Mexico. Commission for Environmental 
Cooperation (CEC). In: The International Coral Reef Initiative 
- The Status of Coral Reefs in Mexico and the United States 
Gulf of Mexico. Amigos de Sian Kaan AC, CINVE5TAV, NCAA, 
CEC, and The Nature Conservancy. 
http://benthos, cox. miami.edu/mexico/icri/home. htm 
Hydrographic Office (1995). Gulf of Honduras and Yucatan 
Channel British Admiralty Chart No. 1220. 1:1 000 000. May 
1995. Taunton, UK. 
Jordan-Dahlgren E (1993). 4f/as de los Arrecifes Coralinos del 
Caribe Mexicano. Parte 1. El Sistema Continental. CIQROO- 
UNAM. 

Map 5c 

Coral reef and mangrove data are taken from Gibson et al 
(19931, data originally prepared at the World Conservation 
Monitoring Centre. Some further detail of reefs and coastline 
has been appended from Hydrographic Office (1989a, 1989b, 
and 1989c]. 

Gibson JP, Price ARG, Young E (1993). Guidelines for 
Developing a Coastal Zone Management Plan for Belize: The 
GIS Database. A Marine Conservation and Development 
Report. lUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 
Hydrographic Office (1989a). Belize, Colson Point to Belize City, 
including Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Islands. British 
Admiralty Chart No. 959. 1:125 000. October 1989. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1989b). Gulf of Honduras. British Admiralty 
Chart No. 1573. 1:125 000. October 1989. Taunton, UK. 



M,6 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Hydrographic Office I1989cl. Belize, Monkey River to Colson 

Point. British Admiralty Chart No. 1797. t:125 000, October 

1989. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrograpfiic Office 119951. Gulf of Honduras and Yucatan 

Channel. British Admiralty Chart No. 1220. 1:1 000 000. N^ay 

1995. Taunton, UK. 

MapSd 

For the Bay Islands coral reef areas were estimated from 
1:150 000 prints of Landsat-5 TM images IPath/Row 17/i9. 
15/4/94. Bands 2, 3, 4|, from 1994. There was no ground- 
truthmg on this work. 

Offshore reefs and islands around the Cayos Miskitos have 
been prepared from Hydrographic Office 119641. Most of data 
from this chart actually date from a hydrographic survey of 
1830-43, with additions from a US Government chart of 1927. 
Although this chart does not feature large areas of reef directly, 
reefs have been broadly interpreted from those few features 
which are marked as reefs and from shallow submerged rocks 
where these occur in areas of active reef development. Further 
reef data are take from from Petroconsultants SA (19901*, and 
from UNEP/IUCN |1988al'. 
Hydrographic Office 119641. River Hueson to False Cape, 

including Morrison and Mosquito Cays. British Admiralty 

Chart No. 2i25. August 1929 Iminor corrections to 19641. 

Taunton, UK. 

MapSe 

Coral reefs have been prepared for Costa Rica from IGN 
(various dates!. For Panama, Caribbean reefs have been taken 
from UNEP/IUCN 11988a]' at an approximate scale of 
1:1 600 000, while Pacific reefs have been gathered at various 
scales from Glynn and Mate (1997). 
Glynn PW, Mate JL 119971. Field guide to the Pacific coral reefs 

of Panama. Proc 8th Int Coral Reel Symp \: 145-166. 
IGN Ivarious dates], Costa Rica. 1.200 000, 9-map series. 

Institute Geografico Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica. 



Glynn PW, Wellington GM 11983], Cora(s and Coral Reefs of the 

Galapagos Islands. University of California Press, Berkeley, 

USA. 
Hydrographic Office 11912], Old Providence Island and Coral 

Bank. British Admiralty Chart No. 1334. 1:55 000. June 1912 

(minor corrections to 19601. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11990]. Colombia - North Coast: Isla 

Fuerte to Cabo Tiburon including Golfo de Uraba. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 1278. 1:200 000. September 1990. 

Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11991a]. Colombia - North Coast: Bahia 

Santa Marta to Punta Canoas. British Admiralty Chart No. 

1276. 1:200 000. March 1991. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11991b]. Colombia - North Coast: Punta 

Canoas to Isla Fuerte. British Admiralty Chart No. 1277. 

1:200 000. March 1991. Taunton, UK 

Map 5g 

Coral reef areas are based on Petroconsultants SA (1990]*. 

MapSh 

Coral reef and mangrove data were kindly provided by Tommy 
Lindell. They are largely based on four Landsat TM images, 
from 1985 and 1995, These have been extensively checked 
against topographic charts, nautical charts, aerial photographs 
and ground-truthing work. For the present map, coral reefs are 
taken from the layers described as "corals" and "coral reefs ". 
In some areas it was difficult to differentiate corals from 
vegetation. These areas have been omitted. Further details about 
this work are provided in Lindell 11997, 19991. 
Lindell T 11997). Mapping of the coastal zone of Jamaica. Proc 

Fourth International Conference on Remote Sensing for 

/Marine and Coastal Environments, Orlando, Florida, 17-19 

March, 1997. 
Lindell T 11999). Coastal zone mapping of Jamaica for 

planning and management. Proc Pecora 14/Land Satellite 

Information 111, Dec 1999, Denver CO, USA. 



MapSf 

Locations of reefs for the north coast of Colombia are based on 
Hydrographic Office 11990, 1991a, 1991bl. Sources for these are 
US Government charts of 1938, 1977, 1986 and 1987, most of 
which are largely based on earlier surveys 11935-38) with cor- 
rections from the 1 970s and 1 980s. For the offshore Isla de San 
Andres, reefs have been estimated from an original map in Diaz 
et al 11995a]. Similar maps, presented in Diaz et al 11995bl were 
utilized to estimate reef areas for Courtown and Albuquerque 
atolls. All three maps give detailed habitat summaries and reef 
areas have been interpreted as all areas dominated by 
hermatypic corals. For Isla Providencia reefs and coastline were 
estimated from Hydrographic Office (1912). This chart does not 
mark reefs, but reef areas have been estimated from reef 
features marked as very shallow waters and submerged rocks 
which clearly demarcate a reef structure. For the Galapagos, 
locations of coral reefs have been taken from Glynn and 
Wellington (19831. These are mostly very small structures. 
Diaz JM, Garzon-Ferreira J, Zea 5 11995a), Los Arrecifes 
Coratinos de la Isla de San Andres, Colombia: Estado actual 
y perspecitvas para su conservacion. Academia Colombiana 
de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales. Santafe de Bogata. 
Diaz JM. Sanchez JA, Zea S, Garzon-Ferreira J 11995b|. 
Morphology and marine habitats of two southwestern 
Caribbean atolls: Albuquerque and Courtown. Atoll Res Bull 
435: 1-33, 



Map Si 

For Cayman Brae and Little Cayman reef data are taken from 

Logan 11983). These maps are based on aerial photographs 

flown in 1958, 1971, 1977 and field studies in 1981 and 1983. 

For Grand Cayman coral reefs are taken from DOS (1978a. 

1978bl. 

DOS (1978a). Cayman Islands 1.25 000: Grand Cayman. Series 
E821 (DOS 328). Sheet 1. 2nd edn-DOS 1978. Directorate of 
Overseas Surveys. UK and Survey Department. Cayman 
Islands. 

DOS (1978b). Cayman Islands 1:25 000: Grand Cayman. Series 
E821 (DOS 3281. Sheet 2. 3rd edn-DOS 1978. Directorate of 
Overseas Surveys, UK and Survey Department, Cayman 
Islands. 

Logan A (1983). Shallow Ivlarine Substrates of the Lesser 
Caymans, BWI Monochrome maps at 1:12 500, prepared 
by A Logan, Department of Geology, University of New 
Brunswick, Canada. 



* See Technical notes, page 401 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



147 



Chapter 6 

Eastern Caribbean and 

Atlantic 




The Eastern Caribbean region is donninated 
by small islands, lying in a broad arc around 
the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea. 
Fringing coral reef communities are found 
in places on the shores of most islands, 
although their condition varies considerably. The 
region also includes the long coastline of Venezuela 
and, although there is virtually no reef development 
along this shore, there are important reefs associated 
with the offshore chain of islands immediately to 
the north. 

As with other areas of the Caribbean, the reefs 
of the Eastern Caribbean have suffered considerably 
from the combined impacts of the Diadema die-off and 
coral disease. Many of the more northerly islands have 
also been swept by major hurricanes in recent years, 
greatly reducing coral cover over wide areas. 

Tourism is the largest industry in this region and 
vast numbers of visitors have driven rapid and often 



poorly planned coastal development, with associated 
problems of sedimentation and pollution. Patterns of 
fishing, and of overfishing, vary considerably between 
islands. The region also contains some important 
protected areas, notably those off Saba, Bonaire and 
St. Lucia, which have been particularly well managed, 
leading to the maintenance or recovery of healthy reef 
ecosystems in localized areas. These provide a model 
for reef management throughout the region. 

Beyond the waters of the Caribbean there are 
some considerable reefs and coral communities 
along the coastline of Brazil. Although still poorly 
known, these reefs are receiving increasing attention 
and house important and unusual communities, with 
a high proportion of endemic species. In the few 
scattered islands of the Central Atlantic and along the 
less turbid areas of the West African coastline some 
coral communities are also recorded, although there is 
no significant development of large reef structures. 



Left: The island of Barbuda. Lesser Antilles has extensive fringing reefs ISTS026-35-11, 19881. Right: The butter hamlet 
Hypoplectrus unicolor is a distinctive Caribbean species, with a range of highly distinctive color morphs. This one is the 
barred variety var. puella. 



MAP 6 




Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic H9 



Haitip the Dominican 
Republic and Navassa Island 



MAP 6a 




H3ltl makes up the western part of the island 
of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the 
Caribbean. It is a mountainous country with a 
central plain enclosed by mountain ranges to the north and 
south which extend out into two long peninsulas enclosing 
the Golfe de la Gonave. Offshore there are a number of 
islands, including the large lie de la Tortue in the north 
and the central lie de la Gonave. Very little indeed is 
known about the coral reefs in Haiti. What information 
exists is largely for the area round the capital Port-au- 
Prince and Les Arcadins islands. Coral reefs are also 
known to occur all around lie de la Gonave: on the 
Rochelois Bank and Les lies Cayemites; around lie a 
Vache on the south coast; and also on the north coast 
between Cap Haitien and the border with the Dominican 
Republic. Marine benthic surveys were carried out in Les 
Arcadins in the 1980s. The reef profile was found to be 
similar to other Caribbean fringing reefs: a reef crest dom- 
inated by Millepora complanata, an Acropora palmata 
zone (with 100 percent live cover in 1989) and a shallow 
fore reef dominated by Monlastrea annularis. Extensive 
seagrass beds occur here - shallow beds (2-4 meters) 
generally have more algae species with a higher biomass, 
whereas the deeper beds (12-14 meters) are more sparsely 



10 km 



populated with algae. In total, 35 species of scleractinian 
coral have been recorded in Les Arcadins, as well as 12 
gorgonians and 54 species of sponges. There are two 
unusual aspects to these reefs. Firstly the soft coral 
kitlogorgia spp.. which normally occurs in cryptic 
habitats or deeper water elsewhere, is common in the open 
shallow waters of Les Arcadins. Secondly, the sponge 
Niphates digitalis, which rarely exhibits gigantism in 
shallow water elsewhere in the Caribbean, does so here. 

Haiti is the most impoverished country in the western 
hemisphere, so the reef resources, although poorly 
documented, are likely to be under intense pressure. 
Perhaps less than 1 percent of the native terrestrial 
vegetation remains intact. The steep relief and high rainfall 
have caused widespread and severe soil erosion, which is 
likely to have placed a high sediment load on coastal reefs. 
About 75 percent of the population live in poverty and 
so almost all fishing activities are carried out at the 
subsistence level, and anecdotal reports suggest that this is 
so intense that few fish reach reproductive size. There are 
no sewage treatment plants or sanitary landfills and the 
levels of nutrients flowing from settlements into coastal 
waters are probably high. This has been linked to an 
abundance of fleshy algae in the reefs off Les Irois and the 



The he de la Gonave, in Haiti, has a number of important reefs ISTS060-84-56. I99il. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Haiti 




General Data 




Population (thousands) 


6 868 


GDP (million US$1 


2 183 


Land area (km^l 


27 156 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


127 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


3 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%l 


100 


Recorded coral diseases 





Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^l 


^50 


Coral diversity 


na/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 


13A 


No. of mangrove species 


na 


No. of seagrass species 


na 




Baie de Port-au-Prince. This bay is also severely polluted 
with oil. industrial chemicals and solid waste. Although a 
monitoring station has been established there by the 
Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversite Marine, it 
is yet to implement a full monitoring protocol. There are 
currently no marine protected areas in Haiti, although a 
park including Les Arcadins was proposed in 1989. 

Dominican Republic 

The Dominican Republic makes up the larger, eastern 
part of the island of Hispaniola. Like Haiti, it too is 
mountainous, with considerable riverine runoff. Fringmg 
reefs and small barrier reefs are scattered along some 170 
kilometers of its coastline, and there are important reef 
communities on the offshore banks of Navidad and La 
Plata (Silver Bank), which lie to the north of the country. 
The best developed reefs include a small barrier reef in 
Montecristi in the northwest, some narrow fringing com- 
munities along the central north coast and a further barrier- 
type development in the far east. Reef development is less 
extensive on the south coast, but there is some in the east 
on the mainland and the neighboring Isla Saona. Around 
Santo Domingo there are small reefs on narrow platforms, 
while there are also some in the far south of the country 
around Jaragua National Park. 

Coral cover has declined considerably in most near- 
shore areas, and algae have proliferated at the expense of 
reef corals at many localities. High coral cover is now 
largely restricted to deeper reefs, and to those lying further 
otTshore. In 2000, average coral cover was 35 percent on 
the Montecristi barrier reef and 40 percent on parts of the 
offshore banks. In the Del Este National Park the diversity 
of the main reef groups is high, with 22 octocorals, 26 
scleractinians and 36 sponges on the shallow spur and 
groove formations. Here most of the algae are calcareous, 
although Dicnola is also abundant. Reef flat communities 
occur on low-relief consolidated carbonate platforms 
which are exposed to strong wave action from the Mona 
Passage. Algae (36 species) provide the dominant cover 
(over 70 percent in some cases), but 14 species of corals 
also occur, principally Acropora palmata, Diploria clivosa. 
Pontes asteroides and P. pontes. Closer to shore, patch 
reefs occur in amongst seagrass beds. Algae again are 
dominant, some 21 species accounting for more than 50 
percent of the benthic cover Information on the status of 
coral reefs in the Jaragua National Park is more scarce, 
but this park protects many different coastal ecosystems. 
There are large and regionally important populations of 
manatees, crocodiles, turtles (leatherback, green, hawksbill 
and loggerhead turtles all nest there) and flamingos. 

Many of the reefs in the north and around Santo 
Domingo have been severely affected by a variety of 
human impacts. Degradation is probably due to increases 



Above: The whitespotted fitefish, Cantfierhines macrocerus, somewhat confusingly has an orange color phase without 
white spots. Below: A classic Caribbean reef scene, with a massive brain coral alongside soft corals. 



MAP 6a 




WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name Designation 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size (km^i Year 



Dominican Republic 



Del Este 


National Park 


MP 


11 


808.00 


1975 


Marine Mammal 


Sanctuary 


S 


na 


38 000.00 


1996 


Jaragua 


National Park 


NP 


II 


1 374.00 


1983 


Literal Sur (Santo Domingo) 


National Park 


MP 


Unassigned 


10.75 


1968 



Montecristi 


National Park 


NP 


II 


1 309.50 


1983 


Parque Submarino La Caleta 


National Park 


NP 


II 


10.10 


1986 





in sediments (from upland deforestation, wetland removal, 
soil erosion and coastal construction for the tourist 
industry), nutrients (from fertilizers as well as domestic 
wastewater) and pesticides (in agricultural runofO. Coral 
disease and the Diadema die-off have undoubtedly 
exacerbated the effects of these direct human impacts. 
Reefs in the southeast and southwest have generally 
suffered less. There is an important artisanal fishery in the 
country, with catches estimated at 13 000 tons in 1998, 
Overfishing, particularly of conch and lobster, is a 
problem, although there may now be a reduction in pres- 
sure as some fishers are turning to work in tourism, while 
the use of fish aggregating devices is directing the focus 
of a number of fishers towards pelagic fisheries. 

Approximately 20 percent of the coral reefs in the 
Dominican Republic occur within marine parks and 



^^^^■^^^ 


/7T 


l^^Hi 


^ uommican 


Republic 




' General Data 






' Population (thousands) 




8 4« 


GDP (million US$1 




9 945 


Land area (km^) 




48 444 


Marine area (thousand km 


) 


261 


Per capita tish consumption (kg/year) 


12 


Status and Threats 






j Reefs at risk (%) 




89 


j Recorded coral diseases 




2 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^) 




610 


Coral diversity 




na/57 


Mangrove area (km^) 




325 


No. of mangrove species 




6 


No. of seagrass species 




4 


» 







sanctuaries, and the majority of these occur in the Jaragua 
and Del Este National Parks. Both cover large areas and are 
far from the centers of human activity. Management levels 
in the parks as a whole are limited and many continue to 
be heavily fished. The parks near Haiti are regularly and 
heavily poached by vessels from that country. 

The offshore banks of Navidad and La Plata have 
significant areas of reef where coral cover remains high. 
These are also important breeding grounds for the largest 
population of humpback whales in the region, some 3 000 
individuals, and support an important whale-watching 
industry in Samana Bay. They are at the center of the large 
Marine Mammal Sanctuary, which incorporates both banks 
and extends to include the northeastern coast between 
Cabo Samana and Cabo Frances. 



Navassa Island 

Navassa Island was claimed as a US terntory in 1857 for 
the exploitation of guano resources, but has no permanent 
inhabitants. An uplifted limestone structure of around 
5 square kilometers, it is located in the Jamaica Passage 
between Jamaica and Haiti, some 50 kilometers from 
Haiti's Cap Dame-Marie. There are important coral reef 
communities on all sides, with live coral cover of 20-25 
percent on the leeward (west) coast. Some 36 hard coral 
species have been recorded to date. The reefs were also 
observed to have considerable structural complexity, with 
high levels of coral recruitment. Incidence of coral disease 
was low, and reasonable numbers oi Diadema were reported. 
Although the surrounding waters have yet to be documented, 
it has been suggested that significant coral communities 
may also occur on shallow seamounts nearby. There are few 
human impacts on these reefs, although there is some 
artisanal fishing by Haitian fishers. The island is now 
controlled by the US Department of the Interior and there 
are strict controls on access and entry. 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 153 



Puerto Rico and 
the Virgin Islands 



MAP 6b 




The US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a large 
mountainous island on the northern edge of the 
Caribbean Sea, lying to the east of the Dominican 
Republic. Mona Island is an uplifted carbonate island to 
the west of the main island, while to the east there are two 
other significant islands, those of Culebra and Vieques. 
The Virgin Islands form an archipelago of about 100 
islands to the east of Puerto Rico. The most western islands 
are an "unincorporated territory" of the USA, the US 
Virgin Islands, while those in the east are an overseas 
territory of the UK, the British Virgin Islands. The majority 
of these islands are on a single shallow platform which is 
an extension of the Puerto Rico shelf. St. Croix to the south 
lies on the separate Cruzan platform, separated by the 
4 500 meter deep Virgin Islands Trough. To the northeast 
this forms the deep, narrow Anegada Passage which 
separates the Virgin Islands from the Lesser Antilles. North 
of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the seismically 
active Puerto Rico Trench constitutes the northern 
boundary of the Caribbean tectonic plate, which is moving 
at a rate of 2-4 centimeters per year in an easterly direction 
with respect to the North American plate. The strike-slip 
motion of this plate boundary has created a deep trench, 
forming the deepest point in the Caribbean (8 605 meters) 



at the Milwaukee Depth, some 150 kilometers north of 
Mona Island. Puerto Rico and the rest of the Virgin Islands 
are predominantly volcanic in origin, with the exception of 
St. Croix and Anegada which, like Mona, were formed by 
uplifted sedimentary rocks. 

The dominant current flow is from east to west, with 
water movement being driven by the Atlantic Northern 
Equatorial Current. These islands also lie within the trade 
wind belt, with wind blowing mainly from the east and 
southeast during the summer months, and from the east 
and northeast during the winter As a result of all these 
factors, the prevailing swell is from the east, and sediment 
transport is along the north and south margins. 

Puerto Rico 

Coral reefs are discontinuous around the main island of 
Puerto Rico, and most abundant along the east, south and 
west coasts. The offshore islands are more continuously 
fringed by reefs. Coral cover is highly varied, and the 
island includes some of the best developed and most 
diverse coral reefs in the US Caribbean territories. As 
elsewhere, coral disease has had a significant impact on 
the total coral cover. The Diadema die-off was also 



St. Croix. US Virgin Islands. Wide areas of sliatlower water can clearly be seen around ttie island IST5054-74-49. 19931. 



MAP 6b 




Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 




considerable here, but numbers are now reported to be 
increasing. Coral bleaching in the late 1980s caused 
significant mortality, and a major bleaching event was 
also observed in 1998, though little associated mortality 
appears to have occurred. 

Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies 
in the Caribbean and tourism has traditionally been an 
important source of income, with estimated arrivals of 
nearly 4 million people in 1993. Construction and tourism 
were the leading sectors in the economy in 1998, and this 
has had considerable impacts on the reefs. Clearance of 
over 75 percent of Puerto Ricos mangroves, combined 
with dredging, agricultural runoff, pollution from un- 
treated sewage, and sedimentation from forest clearance 
have had a considerable impact on most coastal reefs. 
Although there are no big commercial fisheries, small- 
scale fisheries are significant, with a total catch of over 
1 600 tons in 1996. Overfishing of large predators, 
parrotfishes and spiny lobsters is widely reported. Oil 
spills have further impacted reefs in some areas. The 
offshore island of Vieques is used by the US military as a 
bombing range, resulting in many craters on the reefs 
measuring some 5-13 meters in diameter Whether the 
positive impacts associated with the exclusion of fishers 
and tourists from these reefs by the military compensates 
for this destruction is still a matter of some controversy. 

Efforts to control some of the more damaging 
activities and protect some of the reefs from further 
decline are now underway. A number of marine protected 
areas have been designated, together with seasonal fishery 
on some spawning aggregations. New legislation is being 
developed to begin to address some of the pollution 
problems of the area. 



US Virgin Islands 

Coral reefs are widespread around all of the main islands. 
These are mostly fringing reefs, but there is a small barrier 
reef off St. Croix, and there are a number of offshore patch 
reefs and bank structures. 

Nowhere else in the Caribbean have the combined 
effects of hurricanes and disease on coral reef population 
structure been more pronounced than in the US Virgin 
Islands. In 1976 live coral cover on the fore reef at Buck 
Island, dominated by Acropora palmata. was 85 percent. 
Since then, eight hurricanes have caused serious physical 
damage to these reefs. Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, was 
undoubtedly the most severe, but in 1995 Hurricanes Luis 
and Marilyn hit the islands within a ten-day period and 
caused extensive damage in some areas. Others were less 
affected, either because of the uneven impacts of the storms 
themselves or because there was so little coral remaining to 
be damaged. White band disease has also greatly impacted 
the region and killed many acroporid corals, with as many 
as 64 percent of all colonies being affected. Other diseases 
have also hit less abundant species in the Virgin Islands, 
such as Agaricia agaricites and Stephanocoenia michelinii. 
The situation in St. John is similar, with 80 percent of 
Acropora palmata colonies in Hawksnest Bay being lost 
in just seven months. Coral cover around St. John was 
about 30 percent before Hurricane Hugo reduced it to 
some 8-18 percent. In Lameshur Bay the dominant coral, 
Montastrea annularis, declined by about 35 percent and 
there has been no substantial recovery even though coral 
recruitment is occurring. Despite extensive bleaching in 
1998, there was little associated mortality. 

Tourism is the islands' primary economic activity, 
accounting for more than 70 percent of gross domestic 



Left: The spiny lobster industry is of great economic importance in the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, as in many areas, 
there are reports of overharvesting. Right: A grey angelfish Pomacanthus arcuatus. 



156 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



product and 70 percent of employment. Damage to reefs 
associated with tourism and recreation includes signifi- 
cant harm caused by boat anchors and ship groundings. 
The Virgin Islands National Park on St, John attracts a 
million visitors a year, mostly arriving on cruiseships 
or smaller boats, and an estimated 30 000 anchors are 
dropped in a single year. In 1989 the cruiseship Windspirit 
destroyed some 300 square meters of reef with its anchor 
and chain and there has been little recovery since. This 
resulted in the successful prosecution of the boat owners 
by the park authorities, and remains one of the few 
examples of such action for damages incurred to coral 
reefs. Direct damage by divers and snorkellers has also 
been recorded at the most heavily used sites. Mooring 
buoys were installed following a survey which found that 
33 percent of boats anchored in seagrass beds and 14 
percent on coral reefs. Unfortunately, there is now little 
coral left to protect and no limits have been set on the size 
of vessels allowed in park waters. 

Overfishing is widespread throughout the islands, 
even within protected areas. This is further exacerbated by 
the widespread loss of fish habitats, including seagrass 
and mangrove areas, such that fish stocks are highly 
depleted in most areas. 

Other threats to the reefs include sedimentation, land 
clearance, coastal development and sewage discharge (the 
eutrophication of some reefs in the Virgin Islands has been 
attributed to leaching from septic tanks during heavy 
rain). One of the world's largest petroleum refineries is at 
St. Croix, which also represents a significant potential 
threat to reefs as well as other ecosystems. In 1999 a 
Marine Conservation District was declared to the 



southwest of St. Thomas, in cooperation with fishers, 
divers and local and federal government. Known as Hind 
Bank, the area is closed to all fishing and anchoring, and 
represents an important step towards more comprehensive 
fisheries management. 



British Virgin Islands 

Coral reefs are widespread throughout the British Virgin 
Islands, including fringing reefs close to most islands, 
patch reefs in offshore areas, and a long barrier-type 
structure. Horseshoe Reef, extending to the southeast of 
Anegada. As with the US Virgin Islands, the reefs have 
been severely impacted by the passage of several 
hurricanes in recent years and, although not all areas were 
equally affected, some sites lost up to 100 percent of their 
live coral cover. There are now reports of a partial 
recovery in most places. The reefs have also suffered from 
coral disease and from the 1998 bleaching event. Although 
less well studied, it can generally be assumed that many of 
these impacts have had consequences similar to those in 
the nearby US Virgin Islands. 

Human impacts vary across the islands, but sig- 
nificant deterioration or loss of reef habitats has been 
noted close to the more heavily populated areas. Coastal 
development has been particularly severe on Tortola and 
Virgin Gorda. with the clearance of almost all mangroves. 
Considerable increases in coastal sedimentation have 
resulted from road building and other construction 
projects. Large amounts of sewage pass into the sea 
untreated, although newer developments tend to include 
sewage treatment facilities. These islands have the 



PHP 


Puerto ™ 


^B us Virgin 


British Virgin 




Rico 


Islands 


Islands 


General Data 








\ Population Ithousandsl 


3 916 


121 


20 


t GDP (million US$1 


40 865 


na 


210 


( Land area (km'l 


9 063 


350 


161 


Marine area (thousand km^) 


205 


6 


81 


Per capita fish consumption 
( kg/yea rl 


1 


10 


na 


Status and Threats 








: Reefs at risk 1%) 


100 


100 


100 


j Recorded coral diseases 

1 


11 


8 


5 


Biodiversity 








Reef area [km^l 


480 


200 


330 


Coral diversity 


31/57 


34/57 


28/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 


92 


10 


4 


No. of mangrove species 


4 


na 


na 


No. of seagrass species 


4 


5 


na 











Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



greatest concentration of charter yachts in the world 
and anchor damage is widespread, particularly in the 
more popular anchorages where wide areas of benthic 
communities have been destroyed. There is some eutro- 
phication in the more enclosed bays which is at least in 
part related to these vessels. Although several hundred 
moorings are available these are clearly insufficient for 
the numbers of boats. There are only relatively few com- 
mercial fishers (less than 200). with a total catch of some 



800 tons in 1998. Despite this, the impacts of commercial 
and recreational fishing remain substantial, notably on 
lobster, conch, groupers and snappers. 

Although a number of marine protected areas have 
been declared, active management is limited. The pres- 
sures of tourist numbers in existing sites, together with the 
impacts of legitimate activities within their boundaries, 
including fishing, further reduce the effectiveness of 
many of these sites. 



Protected areas with coral reefs 



Site name j 



b Designation 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm'l ^ei 



Puerto Rico 



Boqueron 


Wildlife Refuge 


RVS 


IV 


2.37 


1964 


Cayos de la Cordillera 


Nature Reserve 


RNat 


IV 


0.88 


1980 


Estuarina Nacional Bahia Jobos 


Hunting Reserve 


HR 


IV 


11.33 


1981 


Isla Caja de Muerto 


Nature Reserve 


RNat 


IV 


1.88 


1988 


Isla de Mona 


Nature Reserve 


RNat 


IV 


55.54 


1986 


La Parguera 


Nature Reserve 


RNat 


IV 


49.73 


1979 


US Virgin Islands 


^ 










Buck Island Reef 


National Monument 


NaM 


III 


3.56 


1961 


£sgen Cay 


National Wildlife Refuge 


NWR 


IV 


0.06 


1977 


Hi Bank 


Marine Conservation District 


MarCD 


IV 


41.00 


1999 


Virgin Islands 


National Park 


NP 


II 


53.08 


1956 


British Virgin Islands 


Cooper Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


1.38 


1959 


Dead Chest Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


O.U 


1959 


Fallen Jerusalem Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.12 


1959 


Fort Point 


Park 


P 


IV 


0.15 


1978 


Horseshoe Reet 


Protected Area 


PA 


na 


30.00 


1990 


Mosquito Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.50 


1959 


Necker Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.30 


1959 


Peter Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


4.30 


1959 


Prickly Pear 


Park 


P 


na 


0.95 


1988 


Prickly Pear Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.70 


1959 


Round Rock Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.08 


1959 


Salt Island 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.78 


1959 


St. Eustatia 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.11 


1959 


The Baths 


Natural Monument 


NM 


III 


0.03 


1990 


The Seal Dogs 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


IV 


0.03 


1959 


Wreck of the Rhone 


Marine Park 


MP 


III 


3.24 


1980 



158 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



The Lesser Antilles, 
Trinidad and Tobago 



MAPS 6c and d 




The Lesser Antilles are a group of islands lying in 
an 800 kilometer long arc, stretching from the 
Anegada Passage due east of the Virgin Islands, 
southwards to Grenada which lies close to the South 
American continental shelf These islands form the 
eastern margin of the Caribbean Sea, with the oceanic 
waters of the Atlantic to the east. The deep waters of the 
Puerto Rico Trench lie to the north and northeast. This 
trench is the result of the subduction of the Atlantic plate 
under the Caribbean plate. Towards the south, these deep 
waters rise up towards the island of Barbados, which lies 
about 150 kilometers east of the main island chain. 
Geologically the islands are quite varied, but are 
dominated by two types, older sedimentary islands and 
more recent volcanic ones. 

There has been progressive degradation of reefs 
throughout the Lesser Antilles over the last two decades. 
Many have lost large amounts of live coral cover and there 
have been considerable increases in algal cover. Fish 
numbers have also decreased, and the average size of 
many species is now much reduced as large individuals 
rarely survive the intensive fishing which takes place across 
the region. Recent hurricanes have been very damaging 
to important reef-building species such as Montastrea 




annularis, and coral diseases have severely affected 
populations of the two shallow species of Acropora. 

In the following account, brief descriptions are given 
of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, following a sequence 
from north to south. Trinidad and Tobago, although distinct 
from the Lesser Antilles, is also considered here. 



Anguilla 

Anguilla is an overseas territory of the UK, and consists of 
a small carbonate island together with a number of smaller 
offshore cays. Fringing reefs are widespread particularly 
on the south coast, and there are other reefs on the offshore 
cays. Anguilla has suffered fewer impacts than most other 
islands in the region. With no rivers there is little point- 
source runoff, and although tourism development has been 
significant, it has had little direct impact. Dog Island, some 
distance off to the northwest, has reefs which are among 
the least impacted and visitors are actively discouraged. 
Plans to establish a satellite launching pad on the small 
island of Sombrero have recently been overturned, largely 
due to environmental concerns. It harbors an important 
bird colony, and its surrounding reefs are considered 
important, although they remain poorly documented. 



Left: Antigua is surrounded by intermittent banl< barrier reef structures, a number of wfiich fall within protected areas 
15TS064-76-BB. 19941. Right: S(. Eustatius. Netherlands Antilles, clearly showing the volcanic origin common to many 
islands in the Lesser Antilles. 



63°30' 

Anegada Passage 

Sombrero 
(ANGUILLA) 

IB-SO' 



63°00' 



Sandy Island MP 



62°30' 



Seal Island and PricMy 
/ Pear Cay East MP 
Shoal Bay MP 
(ANGUILCA) / : 

"~* H ANGUILLA 
THEVALLEYj^,;" (mg 

' '^ LiWeBayFNR 

St Martin NRy'i<!K St Martin 

'^ •> (GUADELOUPE) 



IB-OO' 



DogL 
LC\) 



.a... 

St. Maarten 
(NETH. ANTILLBS) 



'.& 



St Barthilemy NR 



St Barth«6 
(GUADELOUPE) 



Saba 

^ ANTILLES) 

St. Eustadus 
trSff K (NETH. ANTILLES) 

Saba ! 



ea-oo' 



6r30' 



MAP 6c 
61°00' 



Salt Fish Tail Real 
(Diamond Raaf) MNP 



Northeast 
■' Aruhipelago PRes 






>^r 



^ 



, ^ 1^ Graen Island 

ST. JOHN'S . *^' ^i'V— "sa'sPRes 

Antigua J _r^ "" \ i 



.^-\^::^r}^^ 

, Fftyes Bay PRes~" ' j* 

DaricwwdPRes- * ;. ^ :.:.;.■ . -^h^^Maon 

SayNP 



3^^i^#^; 



Cades Bay M« Nelson's OockyarrI NP 

3 6 9 Km 

61 'S? 6r44' 



18°30' 



IB'Off 



Leeward 
Islands 



Codrington* '^ 



St. Eustatius MP 



Bank 



rN 



BASSETEI 



Southeast 
Peninsula NP 




ST.Knrs 

AND NEVIS 







\TOff 



Redonda L 



Barbuda 
^ Palaster Reef MNP 



^r3Cf 



ANTIGUA 

AND 
BARBUDA 



' Antigua - 



iiroff 



PLYMOUTH 



CARIBBEAN SEA 



MONTSERRAT (UK) 

Fox's Bay Bird 
Sanctuary PrivR 



ATLANTIC OCEAN 



W3a 



i6»3(y 




MAP6d 



Pricheur/Gd 
RM6m LICA 



62° 



MARTINIQUE 



Caravella LICA 
\ CaravelteNR 




Martinique RNaP^l 

Village de la Polerle RS, '^.'Ht : : ~ ■ ' ^ 

. Grand 3!^' 

14-30' ^ • ■ -Ll^^^''' MscaiwiMi 

Village el Moma.--t*- ■ rjr-T^--:-"-- lUCAr-Ttt? 
Champagne RS I _ v-J^i^^jA^^j^^ v • ■ i^» 

Mome Larcher UCA Zone des Caps RS^-' ^ :' 

Bate des Anglais RS ">^ 

lletsde SalntaAnnaNR '"' 

Savane des Petrifications RS 




60° 







erro' 


eo'57' 




Rodney Bay 
Artificial Reefs MR 


Cas-en-Bas 




■ : MangmvesMR 




^i^^K-^^/i-^vr^"'^'^""^ 1 




14'30' Choc Bay -.. 

Mangroves MR ~" 


• . s tsperance 
t ; •.-. •■■J , Harbour 










Artificial Reef MR 


' , .. Marquis 




MarlgotBay 
Mangroves MR 


ST. LUCIA MangTOves MR 

Anse Grand Anse 
Coction Beach and 




Ansa Galet'Anse 


artificial Mangrove MR 




Cochon Reefs MR . 


reef MR 

Louvet 




Ansa Chaslanet 


AnseMamin Mangroves 
Reef MR MR 




n&QTS Mr\ ' , 

,1 '*f- 




Pra^in FondD'Or 




SoufrleneMR 5 


Mangroves Beach MR 








Reef Between — Savannas Bay 




da Pitons MR 


Grand Callle Mangrove Area MR 
and Rachette 




Anse L'lvrqgne 
Reef MR 


Point MR •■ Anse Pointe 




Sable-Man Kote 




Reef at 


Mangroves MR 




Matgrttoute 

13M2' MR 


,\ii . Mana Islands NR 




Caesar Point to Mathurin 


. Moute-i-Chique 
3 6 9 km Artificial Reef MR 




Point Reefs MR " 









14° 



Chateaubelair Islet WR 
St. Vincent 



Barbados WR ■/■ 



BARBADOS 



13° 



ST. VINCENT 

AND THE 
GRENADINES 



La Paz Island WR 

KINGSTOWN t», 
Young Island WR^ Milligan Cay WR 

West Cay WR ■.. 
Big Cay WR ''^ 



Barbados MR ^. 



BRIDGETOWN' 



^' 1 



Northern endofBequia WR 
Battowia Island WR 



13' 



Pigeon (Ramier)' 

Island WR 
Isle de Quatre WR 



12° 



CARIBBEAN SEA 



GRENADA 

ST. GEORGE'S S 



8' 



^ All Awash Island WR 

Sevan Islands WR 
Petit Canouan WR 



Sail Rock WR 



Windward 
I s 1 a n d s 



) 



iO'42" ^ eo'do* 

St Giles Island GS, 



-»\ 




Buccoo * 
ReetNR 



TOBAGO 



Ll \i 



UtUe Tobago 

. GS : 



WAS 



5 10 15 km 

:60'*2' 60*36' 60"30' 




SL Vincent 
Grenadines 



„ , i. HmBcsboe 

Catholic : ttcef 

Rocks WRXi^ Oi 

> ^ Tobago 
Mayero f^^ J ^ Cays 



\ Sk Toba 
Tobago Or 



World's 
End 
Reef 



Pnjne (Palm) 
Island WR 



,,• k CaysWR 
Union J 

>;... _ 

Frigate Rock WR 

Petit SI. Vincent WR.. ^. 

_ * "^a Petit 

% ^ SL Vincent 

Petit 

Martinique 

(GRENADA) 



Grenada 
Grenadines 



12*25' 



f 

61 "SO' 



3 

61 •25' 



9 km 
6V20' 



12' 



_yENEZUELA 



Peninsula de Paria NP 

;la 



Sautd'EauGSt 



Chaguaramis ETC 
Cronstadt Island GS 



k 



Gulf of Paria 

Southern Watershed GS 

Solado Rock GS 
^, ■ 62"-- 



...j( . PORTOF-SPAIN 

>Caroni Swamp 
Reserve FoR 
Caroni 
Swamp 
^ ProhA 

TRINIDAD 



■ ) 
Mome I'Enfer WS 



M 



CARIBBEAN SEA 

N 



-..■Nariva Swamp ProhA 
-cBush Bush GS 




Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



Antigua and Barbuda 

Antigua and Barbuda, together with the tmy uninhabited 
island of Redonda, are an independent Caribbean nation. 
Coral reefs are relatively widespread in the coastal waters. 
Antigua has some fringing reefs, but also more extensive, 
though intermittent, bank barrier reef structures offshore. 
Barbuda has extensive fringing reefs, particularly along its 
eastern coastline, topped by a well developed algal ridge. 
The reefs, particularly in nearshore areas, are reported to 
have been degraded in recent years, possibly due to in- 
creasing sedimentation and nutrient enrichment associated 
with coastal development. Offshore reefs and those to the 
north of Barbuda generally have higher coral cover and 
species richness. Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn caused 
further damage when they struck the islands in 1995. 

Netherlands Antilles 

(Windward Group) 

A number of islands in the region make up the dependency 
of the Netherlands Antilles. These include two islands close 
to Venezuela (Bonaire and Curasao) and the islands of 
Saba. St. Eustatius and the southern half of St. Maarten (the 
northern part of St. Maarten (St. Martin) is a part of the 
French Antilles). Saba and St. Eustatius are both volcanoes, 
with steep cliffs and little structural reef development, but 
important coral communities. The St. Eustatius Marine 
Park was established in 1998 to protect four areas, 
including coral reefs and wrecks along the coast. Visitors to 
the park are required to pay a small user fee which helps to 
offset management costs. Visitor numbers are growing 
rapidly, from 3 000 in 1997 to 8 300 in 1999. 




Offshore from Saba, there are again extensive coral 
communities in many areas. The precipitous coastline 
limits coastal development and, although this is a very 
popular diving destination, human impacts are minimal. 
All benthic communities down to a depth of 60 meters in 
Saba are protected in the Saba Marine Park. There were 
some 5 000 visitors to the island in 1997. and the park 
user fee (US$3 per dive in 1998) together with souvenir 
sales and yacht fees generated the majority of the income 
for management of the park. 




General Data 

Population Ithousands) 

GDPImiUion US$1 

Land area Ikm^l 

Marine area (thousand km^l 

Per capita fish consumption 
Ikg/yearl 

Status and Threats 

Reefs at risk 1%) 
Recorded coral diseases 

Biodiversity 

Reef area (km^l 
Coral diversity 
Mangrove area (km^l 
No, of mangrove species 
No. of seagrass species 

WL * Including Bonaire and Curacao 



Anguilla 


Ant 


igua and 


Neth 


erlands 


St. 


Kitts 






Barbuda 


A 


ntilles* 


and Nevis 


12 




66 




210 




39 


64 




450 




1813 




171 


86 




462 




810 




275 


90 




110 




79 




10 


na 




37 




22 




37 


100 




100 




100 




100 







1 




10 







<50 




240 




420 




180 


na/57 




na/57 




40/57 




na/57 


5 




13 




11 




>0.71 


na 




na 




2 




na 


na 




na 




na 


^ 


na 



Small gobies Gobiosoma sp. on a boulder star coral Montastrea annularis. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




About 7 kilometers west of Saba is a large shallow 
platform, the Saba Bank, which may be a submerged atoll. 
Although only recently studied it appears to have high 
coral cover in places, and is important for lobster and 
snapper fisheries. 

The entire island of St. Maarten has shown rapid 
coastal development in recent years, paralleling fast popu- 
lation growth and a dramatic expansion of tourism. The 
reefs of the south and west coasts are seriously threatened 
by sewage pollution and siltation. while there is also much 
recreational boating and anchor damage. To date, no pro- 
tected areas have been created. 



St. Kitts and Nevis 

This small independent state consists of two volcanic 
islands with steep mountainous slopes. There are fringing 
reefs along much of the coastline, and a number of deeper 
submerged reef structures. There is little published infor- 
mation about these reefs. Tourism is an important industry 
and there are now a number of dive operators. 



Montserrat 

This small island - an overseas territory of the UK - is 
mountainous and includes considerable forest cover. Since 
1995 however, the Soufriere Hills volcano has been active 
almost continuously, with major pyroclastic flows into the 
sea. Small scattered reefs and coral communities were 
originally described along much of the coastline, but it 
seems likely that they have been severely impacted by the 
massive inputs of sediment, and possibly chemical 
influences, associated with volcanic activity. Most of the 
island's people have now been evacuated and the capital 
Plymouth was itself destroyed in 1997. 



Guadeloupe and dependencies 

Guadeloupe is an overseas territory of France, consisting 
of the twin islands of Grande Terre and Basse Terre which 



make up Guadeloupe proper, together with the nearby 
lies des Saintes and Marie-Galante. The territory also 
administers the island of St. Barthelemy (St. Earths) and 
the northern half of St. Martin (see above). Basse Terre 
is high and volcanic, while Grande Terre is flat and 
calcareous. The western coast of Basse Terre has coral 
communities but no major reef structures. There are some 
fringing and bank barrier reef structures, particularly on 
the southern coastline of Grande Terre, while the northern 
and eastern coast of this island have well developed algal 
ridges. The best developed reefs are in the Grand Cul-de- 
Sac Marin, a shallow embayment fringed with extensive 
mangrove areas and dominated by seagrasses. There are 
several patch reefs within this bay, while its outer edge is 
bounded by a barrier reef with spur and groove formations 
and a reef slope with coral growth down to a depth of 55 
meters. Discontinuous fringing reefs are found in a few 
parts of the other islands, notably on the southern shores of 
Marie-Galante. St. Barthelemy and St. Martin have limited 
coral reef development. Mass bleaching was reported in 
1998 at Guadeloupe, but some bleaching occurs every year 
in September when water temperatures reach 29°C. 

Fishing is an important activity in Guadeloupe, and in 
1998 there were more than 2 000 professional fishermen, 
with a further 1 000 also thought to be fishing regularly. 
These have a considerable impact on the nearshore 
communities, most of which are considered to be 
overexploited. The annual catch was about 8 500 tons 
from these islands in 2000. Tourism, a major activity for 
the islands, is further driving the problems caused by 
coastal development and pollution. Diving is a popular 
activity. The Pigeon Islets (to the west of Grande Terre) 
are a popular dive site, but there is evidence of damage 
being caused by an estimated 80 000 divers per year. 

Donninica 

Dominica, a high volcanic island with steep topography, 
is an independent state. There is only limited reef deve- 
lopment on the narrow coastal shelves, although there 



Left: The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin in Guadeloupe has important mangrove, seagrass and patch and barrier reef 
communities ISTS092-316-U. 20001. Right: A school of yellow goatfish MuUoidichthys martmicus, among corals and 
sponges in the Saba Marine Park. 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



163 




although south of Presqu'ile de la Caravelle a barrier reef 
continues along the shore for about 25 kilometers. The 
lagoon behind this reef is up to 30 meters deep in places and 
there are extensive seagrass communities. Fringing reefs 
have developed along the coast behind the barrier reef 
Algae, including Sargassum, Turbinaria and Dictyota. have 
proliferated on the reefs of Martinique since the Diadema 
die-off. Eutrophication from the city of Fort-de-France 
may be combining with the lack of grazing organisms in 
maintaining this situation. Overfishing is a problem, with 
about 900 registered fishers in 1997, but many others 
operating. There were an estimated 50 000 wire-mesh fish 
traps around the island in 2000. 



are several important coral communities, particularly 
on the south, west and northwest coasts. Several species 
of whale and dolphin are found in the waters around 
Dominica, which is fast positioning itself as the leading 
whale-watching destination in the region. The small 
population and minimal coastal development mean that 
the corals have not been severely impacted by human 
activities, and Dominica has been spared from a direct 
hurricane since Hurricane David in 1979. 



Martinique 

Martinique, like Guadeloupe, is an overseas territory of 
France. Reefs are absent on the leeward northern, northwest 
and west coasts, because the shelf is narrow and there is a 
high sediment load from the erosion of Mount Pelee. There 
are, however, some coral communities along this coastline. 
Similarly, there are no true reefs along the northeast coast. 



St. Lucia 

St. Lucia is another high volcanic island. Coral reefs are 
generally poorly developed, often only forming a thin 
veneer over the underlying volcanic substrates. The best 
developed reefs are in the south and east, although the 
best studied and most heavily utilized coral communities 
occur along the west coast. Certain reefs around Soufriere 
showed up to 50 percent live coral cover, but these sites 
were strongly impacted by Hurricane Lenny in 1999, 
which brought strong wave action on the leeward coast. 
Fishing is a very important activity around the island 
and overexploitation is a problem. Concerted efforts 
have recently been undertaken to manage the nearshore 
fisheries, and in the Soufriere Marine Management Area 
a number of no-take reserves have been established, 
interspersed with other use zones. Studies have shown 
huge increases in fish biomass in the reserves, while 



IV fll 


Montserrat 


Guadeloupe* 


Dominica 


Martinique 


General Data 












Population (thousands) 




6 


426 


72 


415^ 


GDP (million US$1 




40 


2 085 


191 


2 65^1 


Land area (km^l 




105 


1 735 


732 


101^1 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




7 


90 


29 


4^H 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/year) 




na 


28 


35 


2^ 


Status and Threats 










fl 


Reefs at risk (%) 




na 


100 


100 


locH 


Recorded coral diseases 







1 





V 


Biodiversity 












J Reef area (km?) 






250 


<100 


240 ^ 


1. Coral diversity 




na / na 


na/57 


na/57 


34/57fl 


1 Mangrove area (km?) 




>0.02 


40 


2 


'm 


f No. of mangrove species 




na 


na 


na 


naS 


No. of seagrass species 




na 


na 


na 


na 


^ * Including St. Martin and St. Barthel 


.emy 











A view of Simpson Bay Lagoon, from f/ie French St. Martin to f/ie Dutcli St. Maarten, showing the significant coastal 
development on this island. 



164 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




fishermen have reported significant increases in their 
catches from adjacent fishing priority areas. Studies have 
shown a tripling of fish biomass in the marine reserves, 
while fishermen have reported significant increases in 
their catches from adjacent areas. Tourism is also popular 
in the islands, and diving is increasingly focussed towards 
sites in the marine management area. Fees from divers, 
and anchor fees from yachts, mean that the management 
authority is now self-financing. This provides perhaps the 
best example in the region of reef management for 
multiple uses with full community participation. A new 
marine management area is now under development 
further north on the same coast. 



St. Vincent and the Grenadines 

St. Vincent is a relatively young volcanic island. To the 
north. Mount Soufriere most recently erupted in 1979. The 
relatively young coastline, together with new volcanic 
sediments, have prevented the development of extensive 
reefs. There are no reef developments around the north 
and east coasts, and only a few coral communities are 
found on rocky headlands along the west coast. Small 
areas of fringing reefs occur on the south and southeast 
coasts. Running south from the main island is the chain of 
the Grenadines, where there are considerable areas of reef 
Large bank barrier reef complexes have developed on the 
windward side of some islands. Among the best developed 



■■■■IH^^^^^HP 




■"■■■ 


■■ 


^^^ 




^^^^^m^ 


St. Lucia 


St. 


Vincent 
and the 


Barbados 


Grenada 


^B 




Grenadines 






General Data 












Population (thousands) 


156 




115 


27A 


89 


GDPImiUionUS$) 


i78 




237 


1 768 


223 


Land area Ikm^l 


605 




390 


AAO 


367 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


15 




38 


186 


25 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/yearl 


22 




20 


40 


28 


Status and Threats 












Reefs at risk (%l 


100 




96 


100 


100 


Recorded coral diseases 


2 




2 





1 


Biodiversity 












Reef area (km^l 


160 




UO 


<100 


150 


Coral diversity 


na/57 




na/57 


33/57 


na/57 


Mangrove area (knn^l 


1 




>0./15 


>0.07 


2 


No. of mangrove species 


na 




na 


na 


na 


No. of seagrass species 


1 


^^ 


na 


1 


1 - 



Left: A banded butterftyfish Chaetodon striatus amidst gorgonians and soft corals. Right: Fringing reefs around 
Barbados t)ave declined over many decades although there are still submerged reefs off the west and southeast coasts 
ISTS05 1-72-95. 19931. 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



16S 




reefs are those around the small islands of the Tobago 
Cays. Each island has a fringing reef, the larger Horseshoe 
Reef encircles them to the east, while beyond this there is 
the larger World's End Reef The reefs of St. Vincent, and 
particularly the Grenadines, support important fishing and 
tourism, while large numbers of yachts visit these waters. 
The Tobago Cays are particularly important, but their 
condition has deteriorated recently because of storm 
damage, white band disease, physical damage from fishing 
gear and boat anchors, and pollution from visiting yachts. 



in coral cover and diversity have been reported on offshore 
reefs since the 1980s, linked to eutrophication from 
urbanization and tourism developments. 

Grenada 

Grenada is the most southerly of the Lesser Antilles, and 
the country also governs the southernmost islands of the 
Grenadines. There are some fringing and patch reefs 
around all the coasts of Grenada itself, although the total 



Barbados 

Barbados is, in many ways, an anomaly. It lies east of the 
main Lesser Antilles chain in the Atlantic Ocean. Fringing 
reefs are largely absent, although there is a small fringing 
structure near Folkestone on the leeward west coast. There 
are also sub-surface reefs along this coast, where a gently 
sloping shelf extends about 300 meters seaward to a depth 
of 10 meters. At the edge of the shelf, the sea floor drops 
evenly to a depth of about 20 meters. Seaward from this 
there are further submerged patch reef structures, together 
with two larger bank barrier reefs, 12-20 meters deep and 
up to 100 meters wide. Offshore, submerged bank barriers 
are also found off the southeast coast. The eastern, 
Atlantic, coast is subject to very high wave energies 
throughout the year, and much of this coastline is a 
bare carbonate platform extending out to deep water. 
Nearshore reefs in Barbados have suffered considerably. 
Reef flat corals disappeared over 100 years ago with the 
intensification of agriculture, while considerable declines 







^^^^^1 


■P^f Trinidad an 


d Tobago 


^^^1 


General Data 




- 


Population (thousands) 




1 176 


GDP ImiUion US$1 




5 499 


Land area (km^l 




5 152 


Marine area Ithousand km^ 


1 


lU 


Per capita fish consumption Ikg/yearl 


U 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




100 


Recorded coral diseases 




5 


Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikm^j 




<100 


Coral diversity 




na/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 




>^^M 


No. of nnangrove species 




•m 


No. of seagrass species 




2 



French grunts Haemulon flavolineatum against a thiriving colony of Acropora cervicornis. Over wide areas of thie 
Caribbean such scenes are now rare as a result of overfishing and coral disease. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



area of reef is not great. Off the eastern coasts of 
Carriacou and Petit Martinique relatively large bank 
barrier reefs have been formed. Many of the shallow reefs 
were reported to have become overgrown with algae 
during the 1980s, probably linked to the Diadema die-off, 
but possibly exacerbated by sewage and agrochemical 
pollution and increased sedimentation. 

Trinidad and Tobago 

The large island of Trinidad and the nearby Tobago lie 
well south of the chain of the Lesser Antilles, on the 
continental shelf of South America. Reef development 
around Trinidad is severely restricted. The Orinoco River 



lies to the south and discharges huge volumes of sediment 
into the sea, creating turbid conditions which predominate 
along the south and east coastlines of the island. The 
western coastline faces the Gulf of Paria which, along 
with high levels of sediments, has near estuarine 
conditions arising from the high freshwater inputs and 
semi-enclosed nature of this gulf There are small, low 
diversity coral communities in places on the north shore. 
Tobago lies close to the edge of the continental shelf, and 
here reef development is much better, with a number of 
fringing reefs, particularly on the north shore and in the 
southwest. Tobago has a considerable tourism industry, 
and the impacts of tourism have undoubtedly led to the 
degradation of some coastal reefs. 



Protected areas with coral reefs 



L^ 



Site name 



Designation 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikmi| Year 



Anguilla 



Little Bay 


Fish Nursery Reserve 


FNR 


na 


na 


na 


Sandy Island 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


na 


na 


Seal Island and 
Prickly Pear Cay East 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


na 


na 


Shoal Bay 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


na 


na 


Antigua and Barbuda 


Green Island Reefs 


Park Reserve 


PRes 


IV 


na 


na 


Northeast Archipelago 


Park Reserve 


PRes 


IV 


na 


na 


Palaster Reef 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


5.00 


1973 


Salt Fish Tail Reef (Diamond Reetl 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


20.00 


1973 


Cades Bay 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


ETC 


na 


1999 


Barbados 


Barbados 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


2.30 


1980 


Dominica 


Cabrits 


National Park 


NP 


II 


5.31 


1986 


Soufriere/Scotfs Head 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


V 


na 


na 


Guadeloupe 


Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


37.36 


1987 


Petite-Terre 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


9.90 


1998 


St. Barthelemy 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


12.00 


1996 


St. Martin 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


30.60 


1998 



Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin 
DE la Guadeloupe 

Archipel de la Guadeloupe 



Ramsar Site 



UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 



200.00 



1993 



697.00 1992 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



167 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

[site namc^ ^^^^^^^^^^fc Designation 
Martinique 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Sizeiiim'i Year 



Caravelle 


Littoral Conservation Area 


LtCA 


IV 


2.57 


1988 


Caravelle 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


4.22 


1976 



Grand Macabou 


Littoral Conservation Area 


LtCA 


Unassigned 


1.13 


1982 


Pointe Rouge 


Littoral Conservation Area 


LtCA 


Unassigned 


0.54 


1985 


Netherlands Antilles (Windward) 


St. Eustatius 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


na 


1998 


Saba 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


8.20 


1987 



St. Kitts and Nevis 



Southeast Peninsula 
St. Lucia 



National Park 



Maria Islands 



Pigeon Island 



Reef at Malgretoute 



Nature Reserve 



y 



NP 



NR 



IV 



26.10 



Anse Chastanet Reefs 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 


Anse Cochon Artificial Reef 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 


Anse Galet - Anse Cocfion Reefs 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 


Anse L'lvrogne Reef 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


Anse Mamin Reef 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


Anse Pointe Sable - 
Man Kote Mangroves 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


Caesar Point - Mathurin Point Reefs 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 



0.12 



1982 



Artificial Reef 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 




Other Area 


ETC 


III 


0.20 


1978 


Pitons 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


jute 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 



Reef between Grand Caille 
and Rachette Point 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


Rodney Bay Artificial Reefs 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1986 


Soufriere 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


na 


na 


na 


Vigie Beach Artificial Reef 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


IV 


na 


1990 


St. Vincent 


Frigate Rock 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


IV 


na 


1987 


Isle de Quatre 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


IV 


na 


1987 


Prune (Palm] Island 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


IV 


na 


1987 


Tobago Cays 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


IV 


38.85 


1987 


West Cay 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


IV 


na 


1987 


Trinidad and Tobago 












Buccoo Reef 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


6.50 


1973 


Little Tobago 


Game Sanctuary 


GS 


IV 


1.01 


1928 



168 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Venezuela and Aruba, 
Bonaire and Curacao 



MAP6e 




V6n6ZU6l3 is a large country with a long, 
north-facing coastline delimiting the southeastern 
edge of the Caribbean Sea. In the east this coast- 
line is dominated by the vast delta of the Orinoco River, 
which carries considerable quantities of freshwater into 
the Western Atlantic, just south of the island of Trinidad. 
Further west, the coastline generally has higher relief, and 
there are numerous smaller rivers. Coral reef development 
is thus highly limited by freshwater and sediment runoff, 
and nearshore coral reefs are scarce. Small reef systems 
exist at Morrocoy and coral communities in Mochima. 
Between these two locations there are a few other small 
reef developments, for example in San Esteban, Turiamo 
Bay and Cienaga de Ocumare Bay. The reefs in the Parque 
Nacional Morrocoy occur along the seaward margins of 
small cays at the mouth of the Golfete de Guare (Borracho 
and Cayo Sombrero) and to the south of Punta Tucacas. 
This is a generally low energy area with moderate to low 
wave activity, and hurricanes are very rare. Mangroves, 
mainly Rhizophora mangle, grow on the leeward side of 
these islands, which are separated from the mainland by 
extensive seagrass beds. The reef platforms are approx- 
imately 50 meters wide and typically slope down to a 
depth of 12 meters. Until recently, they were dominated by 



Montaslrea cavernosa, M. annularis and several species 
of soft coral (Pseiidoplerogorgia spp., Plexaura spp. and 
Eunicea spp.). Further reefs are located on the continental 
coastline around the Mochima National Park, although 
diversity is lower here, with only about 25 scleractinian 
coral species recorded. 

In January 1996 there was mass coral mortality at 
Morrocoy, which left less than 5 percent live coral cover 
All corals except Porites poriles. Sideraslrea siderea and 
Millepora alcicornis at the main monitoring station were 
killed. In addition to corals, mass mortalities were 
recorded amongst fish, crustaceans, molluscs, echino- 
derms and sponges. The ultimate cause of this event 
remains unclear. The more protected reefs, in the lee of 
coral cays and away from open water, appeared to show 
greater levels of survival. Given the proximity of these 
reefs to an oil refinery, petrochemical plant and various 
other industries, it has been suggested that an unreported 
anthropogenic impact such as a chemical spill may have 
been responsible. 

Venezuela also holds jurisdiction over a number of 
offshore islands, most lying in oceanic water at some 
distance from the continental shelf These include Las 
Aves, Los Roques, Isla la Orchilla and La Blanquilla, 



The reefs of Los Roques in Venezuela, a large marine protected area where coral cover remains high ISTS077-719- 105, 19961. 



MAP6e 




170 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




which lie in a chain parallel to the coast. These reefs have 
a high species diversity, including some 270 species of 
coral reef fish. Los Roques is an archipelago of 40 small 
islands, including one rocky island and 39 coral cays in an 
atoll-like formation. The continental shelf is narrow to the 
south but nearly 1 kilometer wide to the north. Coral cover 
remains high at this site, averaging 27 percent in 1999/ 



2000, but reaching 60 percent in some localities. A total 
of 5 1 hermatypic coral species have been recorded. The 
whole archipelago was declared a Venezuelan national 
park in 1972 and is one of the largest marine national 
parks in the Caribbean. 

Water moves through these offshore islands in a 
westerly direction, the current being a branch of the 
Caribbean Current. This probably protects the offshore 
reefs from most of the terrestrial runoff from the 
mainland. The principal threat is intensive fishing, 
particularly on the fringing reefs of Los Roques. Reef- 
based tourism is not intensively developed. The military 
control many of the smaller islands and the exclusion of 
fishermen and tourists may be the most effective 
protection for reefs in the country. 

More remote from these is the Isla de Aves. a small 
and extremely remote islet in the Caribbean Sea. over 200 
kilometers west of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles, and 
about 550 kilometers north of mainland Venezuela. There 
is very little information describing the marine com- 
munities around this island. 



Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao 

Politically Bonaire and Curasao are part of the 
Netherlands Antilles, and are sometimes referred to as the 
leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba 
maintains a separate constitution, but still forms a part of 
the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Bonaire and Curasao are 
oceanic islands surrounded by deep water, but Aruba is 
located on the South American continental shelf only 27 
kilometers north of Venezuela. The easterly trade winds 
create markedly different physical regimes between the 





^^^^MH 


HP^V Venezuela 


^1 


^m^^^^^ 




General Data 




Population (thousands) 


23 5/13 


GDP (million US$1 


56 0/12 


Land area (km^l 


916 560 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


522 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/year) 


20 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%l 


Ai. 


Recorded coral diseases 


1 


Biodiversity 




Reef area (knn^l 


480 


Coral diversity 


23/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 


2 500 


No. of mangrove species 


7 


No. of seagrass species 


4 







■■^^H 


^^^^^^^^ Aruba 




^^^1 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




70 


GDP (million US$1 




na 


Land area (km^l 




183 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




6 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


9 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




94 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




<50 


Coral diversity 




na/57 


Mangrove area (km^l 




4 


No. of mangrove species 




2 


No. of seagrass species 




na -- 



A coney Cephalopholis fulva with sponges behind. 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Bsite name ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.Designatiot 




Abbreviation lUCN cai. Size ikm>i Yean 



Netherlands Antilles (Leeward) 



Bonaire 



Marine Parl< 



MP 



26.00 



1979^ 



Curacao 


Underwater Parl< 


UP 


na 


10.36 


1983 


Klein Bonaire Isund and 
adjacent sea 


Ramsar Site 






6.00 


1980 


Venezuela 


Archipielago Los Roques 


National Parl< 


NP 


II 


2 211.20 


1972 


Mochima 


National Park 


NP 


II 


949.35 


1973 


Morrocoy 


National Parl< 


NP 


II 


320.90 


1974 


San Esteban 


National Parl< 


NP 


II 


A35.00 
2 132.20 


1987 


Archipielago Los Roques 


Ramsar Site 






1996 


CUARE 


Ramsar Site 






99.68 


1988 



leeward and windward sides of these islands. The reef 
profile of Bonaire and Curasao is generally similar: a 
submarine terrace extending between 50 and 100 meters 
offshore, and ending in a drop-off at a depth of 8-12 
meters which slopes steeply to 50-60 meters. There is a 
second drop-off at 80-100 meters ending in a sandy plain. 
Prolific coral growth occurs across this terrace and on 
the shallower slope. Conspicuous spur and grooves are a 
feature of the Bonaire reef slope, especially along the 
northwestern shore. Along the eastern windward shore 
there is little coral growth in any water less than 12 meters 
in depth. Shallower waters harbor an abundance of crus- 
tose coralline algae and dense Sargassum platycarpum . 
though in places these also grow down to a depth of 40 
meters. Being located on the continental shelf Aruba does 
not have sharply sloping underwater relief 

Coral cover at depths of 10-20 meters at four sites on 
Curagao and Bonaire decreased from 50-55 percent to 
25-30 percent between 1973 and 1992, but was mostly 
unchanged at a 30-40 meter depth. Bonaire is widely cited 
as one of the regions best examples of a self-financing 
marine park. Divers are charged a fee of US$10 per year 
to dive on the reefs, contributing about 60 percent of the 
running costs of the park, with a significant proportion of 
the remainder being generated from the sale of souvenirs. 
Studies have shown that the user fee is seen as a positive 
thing by the majority of visitors, raising awareness of 
conservation issues while giving them some sense of 
participation or ownership. The deterioration in coral 
cover around this island is linked to the Caribbean- 
wide declines, perhaps slightly exacerbated by tourism 



development. This pressure is increasing: 57 000 visitors 
arrived in 1994 (25 000 of whom were divers), rising to 
70 000 in 1999. Despite this pressure, direct physical 
damage to the coral by divers remains low, with less than 
3 percent of colonies affected. 




The waters around Bonaire are one of the best known marine parks in ttie Caribbean ISTS075-706-4I. 19961. 



MAP6f 



42° 



38° 



Parcel Manoel Luis SMP 
and Parque Estadual Mannho 
/ do Parcel Manoel Luis 
Ramsar Site 



Manoel Luis Reefs 



Reentrancias 
Maranhenses 
Ramsar Site 



Rosdrio 



Lengdis Maranhenses NP 



^; 




>*i^t/a- Pamaiba 



Jericoacoara EPA 



Rio Coed SEP 

Balbino MuEPA 




34° 



30° 



Sao Pedro e 
Sao Paulo 



ATLANTIC OCEAN 



• Tereslna 



Lagoa da Maraponga SEP 

Recife Joad Dias 

Recife do Tubarao 
* Aiacati / . Recife Minhoto 

J, -_ ' ■■ Recife Conceicao 

'■■^^- 



,.Atol das Rocas BIR 



' Fernando de 
Noronha MNP 



Igautu ' 



Rio Vmbd SEPA 
Canal de Santa Cniz SEPA ..., 

Rio Paratibe SEPA< ' "■• 

Rio Capibanbe SEPA 

Rio Fomtoso SEPA — ;; 



g Natal 



A 



Manguezals da Foz do 
Rio Mamanguape AOEI 

. ■ Rio Itapessoca SEPA 

/ Rios Goiana e Megao SEPA 

Rio Beberibe SEPA 






Juazeiro 



■•^ Recife 

rt::: 

Rio Cam Quebrado SEPA*'^ ■ SalUnhoBiR 



RIos Serinha^m e 
Maracaipe SEPA 



BRAZIL 



Manguezals 
da Lagoa do 
Roteim SER 



Plagabugu EPA' 



'Rio Una SEPA 
Rios Jaboatao e Pirapama SEPA 






/ 



Santa RJta SEPA 
' Saco da Pedra SER 
Foz do Sao Francisco ES 
Santa Isabel BIR 




arso' 



* Eunapoljs 

16'30' 

* Itabela 




39*00' 38*30' 

** Recifes da Coroa Alta 

* Recifes da Ponta 
da Coroa Vennellia 

"^ Porto Seguro 
'i Recifes Sofia 

Recifes de Pitiacu 
^ Recifes Itacolomis 



* ttamaraju 



S/^ 



'Prado 



\*|^Timbebas Abrolhos 

\mi MNP 

' Recifes de Guaiatibas 



I Akscfttacaji ' 
Reci&s das ^hocli 

Sebas^^ttOomes 
Coroa Venneiha 

Vigosa ' 



:.4 

I^^V Paicel das 
^^^Paredes 

W San 



H 



Santa Baibaia 
j"^ {^,?eBxi dos 



10 20 30 km 



34° 



Redonda 
Siiiba ■^.«' ''t* Abrolbos 

Sueste-"' 

Recife California - 



13° 



17° 



21* 



30° 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 173 



Brazil and West Africa 



MAP6f 




The waters of both Brazil and West Africa are 
separated from the Caribbean reefs by vast barriers 
inimical to reef growth. For the Brazilian reefs these 
barriers include the huge river mouths of the Amazon and 
Orinoco, as well as the intervening sediment-rich coastline 
of the Guyanas. The coastlines of West Africa (and the 
intervening Atlantic islands) are separated from the 
Caribbean center of diversity by large expanses of open 
ocean. For these reasons there is virtually no supply of 
larval recruits from the Caribbean either to Brazil or West 
Africa. Hence the coral reef organisms found in these two 
areas are ecologically isolated. 

Brazil 

Coral reef growth in Brazil is limited to the northeast and 
eastern shores. Most of the northern coastline of Brazil 
is dominated by areas of massive riverine input, with 
freshwater and sediments dominating the continental shelf 
over wide areas to the east of the Amazon. This coastline 
is also swept by the west and northward flow of the 
northern arm of the South Equatorial Current, and these 
factors combine to isolate Brazil from the Caribbean. A 
result of this is that Brazil's coral fauna is notable for 



having a low species diversity yet a high degree of 
endemism. Just 19 species of reef-building coral are 
recognized, of which at least six (including all three 
species of the genus Mussismilia). and possibly as many 
as ten, are found nowhere else. Another interesting feature 
of Brazilian coral communities is that there are no 
acroporid corals, which are the major shallow water corals 
elsewhere in the world. 

The westernmost reef systems, in closest proximity to 
the Caribbean, are the recently described Manoel Luis 
Reefs, lying relatively close to the Amazon river mouth. 
These reefs are some 10 kilometers in length and consist 
of numerous pinnacles rising from a depth of 25-30 meters 
up to the surface waters. Some 16 hermatypic corals have 
been recorded, including 12 scleractinian species. These 
reefs are still poorly known, but their location, as the 
closest reefs to the Caribbean, may be important for any 
movements of species between these regions. 

There are a few oceanic islands to the northeast of 
Brazil. Coral communities of 12 species form dense 
structures, but not true reefs, on the islands of Fernando 
de Noronha. The nearby Atol das Rocas is a true atoll 
some 3.7 kilometers across, encircling a shallow lagoon. 
The carbonate deposits, which are some 10 meters 



Left: Mussismilia harttii, one of several species endemic to Brazil (photo: JEN Veronl. Right: Madracis decactis ;s a truly 
Atlantic species, found in the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa. In Brazil it typically forms tall grey columns Iphoto: 
JEN Veronl. 



174 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




15 km 



thick, are predominantly the result of coralline algal 
deposits. Only eight coral species have been recorded of 
which Siderastrea slellala is dominant in all areas. Nearly 
1 000 kilometers northeast of Brazil, Sao Pedro e Sao 
Paulo is a group of some 15 rocks and islets. They lie in 
the westward flowing South Equatorial Current and hence 
there is little or no migration of coral larvae to these rocks. 
Only two species of hermatypic coral (Scolymia wellsi and 
Madracis decactis) have been recorded. 

The eastern continental shelf of Brazil is of irregular 
and limited width (about 50 kilometers) in most places. 



^^^^B 


il 


"m 


General Data 






Population Ithousands) 




172 860 


j GDP (million US$) 




503 484 


Land area (km^j 




8 507 Q80 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




3 661 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


7 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




84 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area [km2| 




1 200 


Coral diversity 




na/17 


Mangrove area (km^l 




13 400 


No. of mangrove species 




7 


No. of seagrass species 




1 


mi--^i^-:;'\ 




jBHHEE... 



Narrow reefs, formed by pinnacles oi Siderastrea stellata 
and Millepora alcicornis, are found along the coast to the 
north of Natal. Further south there are many reefs parallel 
to the coast. These are characterized by an emergent reef 
crest with only two species of coral (Favia gravida and 
Siderastrea stellata) and an algal ridge of Melobesiacea 
and Dendropoma spp. There are typically three zones on 
the seaward slope dominated respectively by Millepora 
alcicornis, Mussismilia harttii and, at depth, Montastrea 
cavernosa. Gorgonian corals are particularly abundant 
on these reefs. 

In the State of Bahia, the continental shelf widens 
considerably, extending from 5 to 65 kilometers offshore, 
and reaching 200 kilometers in the far south around the 
Abrolhos Archipelago. This is the largest and richest area 
of coral reefs in the South Atlantic. Sixteen species of 
stony coral are recorded, and coral cover approaches 
20 percent in some areas of shallow reef Reefs include 
fringing reefs and offshore banks. A common growth form 
is the development of mushroom shaped pinnacles called 
chapeiroes, highly characteristic of Brazilian reefs. They 
are typically 2-50 meters in diameter, and extend 
vertically to a height of between 1 and 25 meters. The 
tops of chapeiroes close to shore frequently fuse together 
with open spaces beneath the coalesced surface. Channels 
between individual chapeiroes sometimes fill up with 
sediment. The tops of some of these inshore reefs are often 
completely exposed at low tides. Further out to sea the 
chapeiroes do not fuse together and the reefs consist of 
very large individual chapeiroes in water about 15-20 
meters deep. The Abrolhos Archipelago incorporates the 
most extensive reefs, and also includes some small islands 
and sand cays, with some areas of mangrove. Coral 
bleaching was reported from northern Bahia and the 
Abrolhos reefs in 1998, but levels of mortality were low. 

Many of the coastal reefs of Brazil exhibit signs of 
degradation, particularly close to human settlement. The 
major concern for the coral reefs of Abrolhos is the 
expansion in tourism, increased sedimentation from inland 
deforestation for agriculture and rapid coastal development. 
The number of visitors to the Abrolhos Marine Park 
increased fourfold between 1988 and 1993. Associated 
problems such as anchor damage, litter, collection of 
souvenirs and reef walking are of considerable concern. 



West Africa 

True reefs do not occur along the West African coast or the 
Cape Verde and Gulf of Guinea archipelagos, although 
mature coral communities are found at various locations. 
In all some 15 species of hermatypic and ahermatypic 
corals have been recorded. The region's heavy rainfall 
drains through several major rivers, principally the Niger, 
and creates a large freshwater input to the Gulf of Guinea. 



Some of the islands and reefs of the Abrolhos Archipelago. Additional structures, including the marine parif, lie further 
offshore lSTS05i-86-l 19931. 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



I 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name^^^^^^^^^^_ Designation 

Brazil 




Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm^i Yeai 



Abrolhos 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


913.00 


1983 


Atol das Rocas 


Biological Reserve 


BiR 


la 


362.49 


1979 


Fernando de Noronha 


Marine National Parl< 


MNP 


II 


112.70 


1988 


Parcel Manoel Luis 


State Marine Parl< 


SMP 


II 


452.37 


1991 



k 



Recite de Fora 

Parque Estadual Marinho 
DO Parcel Manoel Luis 



State Marine Park 



SMP 



IV 



Ramsar Site 



17.00 



A52.37 2000 



This warm, low salinity water is a permanent feature of 
the Grain Coast and the Bight of Biafra. and a seasonal 
feature of the whole coast from Mauritania to Angola. 
Outside this region the marine waters are generally much 
colder, the result of currents or upwellings. These oceano- 
graphic factors combine to restrict significant coral 
growth to shallow protected bays, outside which the 
number of species and size of coral colonies rapidly 
decrease. In open water, hermatypic corals are generally 
temperature limited to depths shallower than 20 meters 
with some exceptions in the offshore archipelagos. 

Two different types of coral community have been 
described. The more common one comprises Millepoia 
alciconiis and three species of Forties, two species of 
Sideraslrea, Favia and Madracis. as well as Monlastrea 
cavernosa, with three species of ahermatypic sclerac- 



tinian coral (Phyllangia americana, Tubastrea sp. and 
Dendroplnilia dilaiala). This type of community is found 
mainly in the islands, though it also occurs in more 
brackish coastal waters. The second community type 
consists of colonies of the monospecifc genus Schizoculina 
which is endemic to the Gulf of Guinea. Various theories 
exist as to the evolutionary origin of the West African 
coral communities. It has been proposed that they have 
developed either as a result of long distance dispersion 
from the Caribbean via Bermuda and the Azores, or from 
Brazil, or even that they could include some relict species 
from the ancient Mediterranean-Tethys Sea. Very little is 
known about sub-tidal benthic communities over wide 
areas of West Africa, and it is quite possible that there are 
important and diverse coral communities in a number of 
areas which are yet to be documented. 




The great barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda, can grow to nearly 2 meters in length. Brazil is the southernmost portion of 
its Atlantic range. 



176 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Selected bibliography 



HAITI, THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 
AND NAVASSA ISLAND 

Geraldes FX 119981. Parque Nacional del Este, Dominican 
Republic. In: Kjerfve B led). CARICOMP - Caribbean Coral 
Reef, Seagrass and Mangrove Sites. UNESCO, Pans, France. 

Luczkovich JJ. Wagner TW et al 119931. Discrimination of coral 
reefs, seagrass meadows, and sand bottom types from 
space - a Dominican Republic case-study. Photogrammetric 
Engineering and Remote Sensing 59131: 385-389. 

UNDP 11995). Creation of Les Arcadins Ivlarine Park and 
Fisfieries Project. UNDP Project Document. 

UNESCO 119971. Coasts of Haiti - Resource Assessment and 
Ivlanagement Needs. Results of a Seminar and Related Field 
Activities. Coastal Region and Small Island Papers 2. 
UNESCO, Pans, France, 

Williams EH Jr. Ctavijo I, Kimmel JJ, Colin PL, Diaz Carela C. 
Bardales AT. Armstrong RA. Bunkley-Williams L. Boulon 
RH, Garcia JR 119831. A checklist of marine plants and 
animals of the south coast of the Dominican Republic. Carib 
JSa 19: 39-53. 

PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS 

Bruckner AW, Bruckner RJ 119971. Outbreak of coral disease in 
Puerto Rico. Coral Reefs 16141: 260. 

Bythell JC, Bythell M et al 119931. Initial results of a long- 
term coral reef monitoring program - impact of Hurricane 
Hugo at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St-Croix, 
United States Virgin Islands. J Exp fJlar Biol Ecol 172(1-21: 
171-183. 

Edmunds PJ 119911. Extent and effect of black band disease on 
a Caribbean reef. Coral Reefs 10131: 161-165. 

Lirman D, Fong P 119971. Patterns of damage to the branching 
coral Acropora patmata following Hurricane Andrew: 
damage and survivorship of hurricane-generated asexual 
recruits. J Coas( Res 13111: 67-72. 

Macintyre IG, Raymond B, Stuckenrath R 119831. Recent 
history of a fringing reef, Bahia Salina del Sur, Vieques 
Island, Puerto Rico. Atoll Res Bull 268: 1 -6. 

Rogers CS. McLain LN et al 119911. Effects of Hurricane Hugo 
119891 on a coral reef in St. John. USVI. f^ar Ecol Prog Ser 
78121: 189-199. 

THE LESSER ANTILLES, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 

Bouchon-Navaro Y, Louis M. Bouchon C (19971. Trends in fish 
species distribution in the West Indies. Proc 8th int Coral 
Reef Symp]. 987-992. 

Gabrie C (2000). State of Coral Reefs in French Overseas 
Departements and Territories. Ministry of Spatial Planning and 
Environment and State Secretariat for Overseas Affairs. Paris. 
France. 

Humphrey JD (19971. Geology and hydrogeology of Barbados. 
In: Vacher HL. Quinn T [edsl. Developments in Sedimen- 
tology, 54: Geology and Hydrology of Carbonate Islands. 
Elsevier Science BV. Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

NowLis JS, Roberts CM. Smith AH, Siirila E 119971. Human- 
enhanced impacts of a tropical storm on nearshore coral 
reefs. 4mfa/o 26/8: 515-521. 

Polunin NVC, Roberts CM (1993). Greater biomass and value of 
target coral-reef fishes in two small Caribbean marine 
reserves. Ivlar Ecol Prog Ser ^00: 167-176. 



Rakitin A. Kramer DL 119961. Effect of a marine reserve on the 
distribution of coral reef fishes in Barbados. Ivlar Ecol Prog 
Serl31:97-113, 

Sheppard CRC. Matheson K. Bythell JC. Blair Myers C. Blake B 
119951. Habitat mapping in the Caribbean for management and 
conservation: use and assessment of aerial photography Aguatic 
Conservation: fvtarine and Freshwater Ecosystems 5: 277-298. 

VENEZUELA AND ARUBA, BONAIRE AND CURACAO 

BoneD, Perez D. ViUamizar A. Penchaszadeh P. Klein E (19981. 

Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela. In: Kjerfve B ledl. 

CARICOMP - Caribbean Coral Reef, Seagrass and Mangrove 

Sites. UNESCO, Pans, France. 
De Meyer K 119981. Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. In: Kjerfve B 

ledl, CARICOMP - Caribbean Coral Reef, Seagrass and 

Mangrove Sites. UNESCO, Pans, France. 
Leendert PJ, Pors J, Nagelkerken lA 11998). Curacao, 

Netherlands Antilles. In: Kjerfve B ledl. CARICOMP - 

Caribbean Coral Reef, Seagrass and Mangrove Sites. 

UNESCO, Pans, France. 
Meesters EH, Knijn R. Willemsen P. Pennartz R, Roebers G. 

van Soest RMW (1991). Sub-rubble communities of Curacao 

and Bonaire coral reefs. Coral Reefs 10: 189-197. 

BRAZIL AND WEST AFRICA 

Amaral FD 119941. Morphological variation in the reef coral 
Montastrea cavernosa in Brazil. Coral Reefs 13: 113-117. 

Amaral FD. Hudson MM, Coura MF (19981. Levantamento 
preliminar dos corais e hidrocorais do Parque Estadual 
Mannho do Parcel do Manuel Luiz IMAl, Resumos do XIII 
Simposio de Biologia Marinha. Sao Sebastio, Cebimar-USP. 13. 

Laborel J 119741. West African corals: an hypothesis on their 
origin. Proc 2nd Int Coral Reef Symp 1 : 452-443. 

Leao ZMAN, Tellas MD, Sforza R, Bulhoes HA, Kikuchi RKP 
(1994). Impact of tourism development on the coral reefs of 
the Abrolhos area, Brazil. In: Ginsburg RN (edj. Proceedings 
of the Colloguium on Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, 
Hazards and History, 1993. University of Miami, Miami, 
Flonda, USA. 255-260, 

Leao ZMAN, Ginsburg RN (1997). Living reefs surrounded by 
siliciclastics sediments: the Abrolhos coastal reefs, Bahia, 
Brazil. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 2. 1767-1772. 

Leao de Moura R, Martins Rodrigues MC. Francini-Filho RB, 
Sazima I (1 999). Unexpected nchness of reef corals near the 
southern Amazon river mouth. Coral Reefs 18: 170. 

Maida M, Ferreira BP (1997). Coral reefs of Brazil: an overview. 
Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 1 : 263-274. 

Testa V (1996). Calcareous algae and corals in the inner shelf 
of Rio Grande do Norte. NE Brazil. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef 
Symp: 737-742. 

Werner TB, Pinto LP. Dutra GF, Pereira PG do P (2000). 
Abrolhos 2000: conserving the Southern Atlantic's richest 
coastal biodiversity into the next century. Coastal 
Management 2S: 99-108. 



Map sources 
Map 6a 

For the Dominican Republic coral reefs are taken from 
Hydrographic Office 11970. 1985. 1986. 1990. 19911. Most of 



Eastern Caribbean and Atlantic 



this information is derived from data gathered during the 
19805, although some surveys were conducted in the 19A0s. 
For Haiti coral reef data is taken from Petroconsultants SA 
(19901*. with some additional reef areas added from 
UNEP/IUCN I1988al*. 
Hydrographic Office 119701. Eastern Part of Haiti to Puerto Rico 

including Mona Passage, British Admiralty Chart No. 3689. 

1:6U 000. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19851. West Indies Plans on the North 

Coast of the Dominican Republic. Punta Mangle to Pointe 

Yaquezi and Bahia de Samana and Approaches. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 463. 1 :200 000. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19861. West Indies Dominican Republic. 

Bayajibe to Haina. British Admiralty Chart No. A67. 

1:200 000. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11990). West Indies Dominican Republic 

and Puerto Rico. Mona Passage. British Admiralty Chart No. 

472. 1:200 000, Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19911. West Indies Dominican Republic - 

South Coast. Cabo Caucedo to Isla Alto Velo. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 471. \ :200 000. Taunton. UK. 

Map 6b 

For Puerto Rico and for the US Virgin Islands coral reefs have 
been taken from UNEP/IUCN |1988al*. at scales of 1:700 000 
and 1:100 000 respectively. For the British Virgin Islands reefs 
are based on DOS (19821. 

DOS (1982). British Virgin Islands. 1:63 360. Directorate of 
Overseas Surveys, UK. 



IGN (19881. Guadeloupe. Carte 510, Editions. 1:100 000. Institut 
Geographique National. Pans. France. 

Mapie 

For Curacao and Bonaire, coral reefs have been taken from 
UNEP/IUCN (1988al' at 1:550 000. For Aruba, coral reefs are 
taken from Hydrographic Office 119871. For Venezuela, coral 
reef data have been taken as arcs from Petroconsultants SA 
(19901*, with some additional reef areas for Morrocoy, Isla la 
OrchiUa and La Blanquilla added from UNEP/IUCN Il988al. 
Hydrographic Office (19871. Aruba and Curacao. British Admiralty 
ChartNo. 702. 1:100 000. August 1987. Taunton. UK. 

Map if 

Coral reefs are largely taken from UNEP/IUCN (1988al* at an 
approximate scale of 1:10 000 000 (and 1:2 000 000 for parts of 
northeast Brazill. Further detail has been added for the Manoel 
Luis reefs based on sketch maps in Leao de Moura el al 119991 
and for the Abrolhos region based on a 1:1 000 000 sketch map 
in Leaoet al (19881 
Leao ZfvlAN. Araujo TMF, Nolasco MC (19881. The coral reefs 

off the coast of eastern Brazil. Proc 6th Int Coral Reef Symp: 

339-347. 
Leao de Moura R. Martins Rodrigues MC. Francini-Filho RB 

and Sazima I (1999), Unexpected richness of reef corals near 

the southern Amazon River mouth. Coral Reefs 18: 170. 



Maps 6c and 6d 

Coral reef data were taken from UNEP/IUCN (1988a)* for the 
following countries: Antigua and Barbuda at 1:150 000; 
Barbados at 1:90 000; Dominica at 1:90 000; Netherlands 
Antilles at 1 :300 000; St. Lucia at 1 :1 50 000 (and below). 

For Guadeloupe coral reefs are derived from IGN 11988). For 
Martinique coral reefs are derived from Hydrographic Office 
11991a. 1991b), which are based on French Government charts 
of 198A to 1988 with later corrections. For Montserrat, coral 
reefs are derived from Hydrographic Office (19861. For Saba, 
reefs were digitized from a sketch map at c. 1 :30 000 prepared 
by K Buchan (Park manager. Saba Marine Parkl. For St. Kitts 
and Nevis reefs are derived from DOS 1 1 979), which is based on 
1:25 000 DOS maps prepared from 1968 air photography and 
field surveys to 1972. Additional coral reef data for St. Lucia are 
taken from Hydrographic Office 11995a). For St. Vincent reefs 
are taken from Hydrographic Office 11995a. 1995b), which is 
mostly based on admiralty surveys from 1858-89 and 1933-35. 
DOS (1979), Saint Christopher and Nevis. 1 :50 000. Department 

of Overseas Surveys, London, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1986). Montserrat and Barbuda. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 254. 1 :50 000. July 1986. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11991a). Northern Martinique: Pointe 

Caracoli to Fort-de-France. British Admiralty Chart No. 371. 

1:75 000. April 1991. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1991b). Northern Martinique: Fort-de- 
France to Pointe Caracoli. British Admiralty Chart No. 494. 

1:75 000. April 1991. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1995a). West Indies: Southern Martinique 

to Saint Vincent. British Admiralty Chart No. 596. 1:175 000. 

January 1995. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1995b). West Indies: Saint Vincent to 

Grenada. British Admiralty Chart No. 597. 1:175 000. 

September 1995. Taunton, UK. 



* See Technical notes, page 401 



178 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Part 




The Indian Ocean and 
Southeast Asia 



The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean. It 
IS closed to the north, and a large proportion 
of Its waters are tropical or near tropical. 
Unlike the Atlantic it is largely bounded 
by relatively arid countries and does not 
receive particularly high inputs of freshwater or ter- 
restrial sedinnents. The great exception to this is the 
Bay of Bengal in the northeast, which is fed by massive 
riverine discharge from a number of rivers, leading to 
conditions of high sediments and low, fluctuating 
salinities - inimical to coral reef development. To the 
northwest are the enclosed sea areas of the Red Sea 
and the Arabian Gulf, with very different tectonic 
histories, but both occurring in highly and regions with 
little terrestrial runoff. The coast of East Africa is also 
relatively dry. Continental shelf areas are generally 
narrow, although there are a few nearshore island 
groups which are important for coral reef development. 
There are also several oceanic island groups, notably in 
the west and central parts of this ocean. The largest 
chain of islands follows the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, 
a volcanic trace which has formed the Lakshadweep 



Islands in India, the Maldives and the Chagos 
Archipelago. Reunion and Mauritius are high islands 
lying at the most recent end of this volcanic trace, with 
active vulcanism on Reunion. The Seychelles form a 
more complex group of islands with varied origins. 
To the east there are fewer remote oceanic islands, 
and the region blends into the reefs of Southeast Asia 
with the island chains of the Andaman and Nicobar 
Islands, and the Mentawai Islands to the west of 
Sumatra in Indonesia. 

There are large areas of coral reef right across 
this region, making up nearly 20 percent of the world 
total. Fringing reefs predominate along much of the 
Red Sea, particularly northern and central parts. 
Further south in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coastal 
sediments and high salinities restrict fringing reef 
development, though there are extensive offshore 
patch reefs. Cool upwellings limit the development of 
true reefs along parts of southern Arabia and Pakistan. 
Further south there are fringing communities on the 
coasts of East Africa, and particularly along the shores 
of continental islands. Some of the best developed reef 



I 



The Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia 



179 



structures occur in isolated oceanic locations. There 
are numerous atolls and platfornn structures in the 
west and central regions of the oceans, and the 
Maldives and Chagos Archipelago include the largest 
atoll structures in the world. The continental coast- 
lines of India and Sri Lanl<a have very limited reef 
development as there are various adverse conditions, 
including high turbidity, fluctuating salinity and high 
wave energy. There are important though little known 
reefs around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and 
to the north of Sumatra. Australia also has significant 
reef communities, including extensive fringing reefs, 
offshore platform and barrier structures and high 
latitude communities (these are considered further in 
Chapter 111. 

Species diversity is high across the region, 
following a narrow band of high diversity in the Central 
Indian Ocean and forming two distinctive sub-centers 
of diversity in the Western Indian Ocean and the Red 
Sea. Elsewhere there is greatly reduced diversity, 
notably in the Arabian Gulf and along the shores of 
mainland India. Despite their high latitude there is 
relatively little diminution of diversity in the reefs of 
the northern Red Sea. By contrast there are latitudinal 
declines in species numbers, and as a consequence in 
the development of reefs themselves, in both southern 
Africa and Western Australia. 

Wide areas of this region were affected by the 
1997-98 El Nino Southern Oscillation event, and in 
1998 warm waters swept across wide areas of the 
Indian Ocean, leading to bleaching and massive levels 
of coral mortality on reefs from Western Australia to 
the shores of East Africa. In the Maldives. Chagos and 
Seychelles (which together make up over 5 percent of 
the world's coral reefsl. more than 60 percent of corals 
died in all areas, and up to 100 percent of corals were 
lost in some places. Recovery has now begun in most 
areas, but the overall scale of this event was so large 
that full recovery may take years or decades, while 
there are concerns that such events may be repeated 
with global climate change. 

Direct human pressures on coral reefs in the 
Indian Ocean are highly varied. The Arabian Gulf con- 
tains the largest concentrations of oil reserves in the 
world, and there is chronic oil pollution in this sea. 
exacerbated by occasional massive oil spills. Tanker 
traffic also carries the threat of oil pollution to other 
areas, notably the narrow straits at the mouth of the 
Arabian Gulf, and at the northern and southern ends 
of the Red Sea. Coastal development is sporadic - 
there are vast areas of the Arabian coastline with 
little development, but in others, such as around the 
major ports and some of the tourist areas of East 
Africa, coastal development is having a direct impact 



on reefs. Tourism too is sporadic, but is critical to the 
economies of Egypt, Kenya. Tanzania and the islands 
of the Indian Ocean. 



Southeast Asia 

Southeast Asia is one of the most important areas in 
the world for coral reefs. Over 30 percent of the world's 
reefs are found in this complex region which straddles 
the waters between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The 
region includes the continental coastlines of Myanmar 
and Thailand. Malaysia. Cambodia. Vietnam and China. 
The most extensive coastlines, however, follow the 
great complex of islands which are dominated by the 
Philippines and Indonesia. Indonesia alone has over 
50 000 square kilometers of coral reefs, nearly 18 
percent of the world total. Japan lies on the edges of 
this region, and also has a considerable area of reefs 
surrounding island chains which follow natural dines 
of diminishing species diversity. The coastlines define 
a large number of partially enclosed seas. While the 
waters around the continental shores are generally 
shallow, deep oceanic waters come in close contact 
with offshore islands in many areas. 

Fringing reefs predominate, although there are 
also extensive barrier reef systems, and a number of 
atolls and near-atolls. This region is the great center 
of coral reef biodiversity, and there are more species 
here, in almost all animal groups, than anywhere else. 
To some degree this diversity is encouraged or main- 
tained by the complexity of coastline and the great 
range of habitats found in the region, but its ultimate 
origins can be traced back over geological timescales. 
While extinctions were occurring in other regions it 
would appear that species were able to survive in this 
region, and even to diversify as sea levels fluctuated 
and areas became isolated and then reconnected with 
one another. 

Unfortunately this region is also the most 
threatened and disturbed by human activities. Some 
82 percent of the region's reefs were considered to 
be threatened by human activities in the 1998 Reefs 
at Risk study Most of these threats are linked to the 
rapidly growing economies and populations in this 
region. These are driving massive changes in the 
landscape, with forest clearance and agricultural 
intensification leading to increased sedimentation 
and pollution from agricultural chemicals. Massive 
urban expansion has also led to enormous pollution 
problems close to urban centers. Fishing pressures 
are ubiquitous, from chronic overfishing for local 
consumption and the highest rates of blast fishing in 
the world, to target species overfishing even in many of 
the remotest parts of the region. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 7 

Western Indian Ocean 




The Western Indian Ocean is distinctive in 
terms of coral reefs. Its eastern boundary is 
marked by the Seychelles and the shallow 
Mascarene Ridge which extends down 
towards Mauritius. East of these is a con- 
siderable expanse of deep ocean separating the reefs 
of this region from those of the Maldives and Chagos. 
The region's southern margins are the oceanic waters 
to the south of Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar, 
while on the continental coastlines of southern 
Mozambique and northern South Africa the gradual 
cooling of water temperatures is mirrored by a 
diminution in coral diversity. The growth of reefs ceases 
close to this international border The northern edge of 
the region ends along the eastern coast of Somalia 
where coral growth again becomes highly restricted, 
here by cold water upwellings associated with regional 
patterns in oceanic currents. 

The reefs of mainland East Africa are pre- 
dominantly fringing, closely following the coastlines of 
the mainland and islands on the continental shelf. 
Madagascar has some discontinuous fringing reef 
development, as well as some barrier reef systems 
off its west coast. The remainder of the region is 
dominated by oceanic islands. The northern Seychelles 
are actually a remnant of continental crust, with high 
islands and fringing reef systems. There are also two 
volcanic island chains, the Comoros and the Reunion- 
Rodrigues chain. Both show classic reef development, 



with limited fringing reefs on the most recent islands, 
but wide fringing and barrier reef development on the 
older ones. The Reunion hotspot also produced the vast 
reef areas of the Chagos-Laccadive ridge across the 
Central Indian Ocean (Chapter 81. 

The reefs of this region have high levels of species 
diversity Although they are similar to those of the 
Central Indian Ocean, there are distinctive and endemic 
species which have led to the recognition by some 
authors of a Western Indian Ocean center of diversity. 
Detailed knowledge of the reef biotas is lacking for much 
of the region, a factor which is related to a lack of 
infrastructure and indigenous expertise combined with 
problems of national security in some areas. This region 
was badly damaged by the coral bleaching event of 1998, 
with many areas suffering over 50 percent mortality. 

Human populations along much of the coastline 
are rapidly increasing. Most of the coastal populations 
are very poor, and heavily dependent on the adjacent 
reefs for food. Unfortunately there is little control over 
the utilization of these resources, either through 
traditional or formal management regimes, and large 
areas of reefs have been degraded through overfishing 
or destructive fishing techniques. Growing interest in 
the reefs for tourism is leading to new pressures in 
some areas, however it is also providing an econo- 
mically powerful incentive for protecting reefs, and 
there is considerable potential for environmentally 
sustainable tourism developments. 



Left: The Seychelles anemonefish Amphiprion fuscocaudatus with dominos Dacyllus trimaculatus in a giant anemone. 
The anemonefish are often restricted to particular countries or regions. Right: The brightly colored Fromia monilis 
starfish is common on reefs throughout the Indian Ocean and is a regionally important grazer of algae. 



MAP? 




MAP 7a 



41° 




KENYA 




"^C '■ Bajuni 
""j •' Archipelago 




DoddrlNaR 



^ Lamu ■ Klutg^ Manne 

Arrhirvlaoiv National Reserve 

-.. ATCmpeiagt^ aiasahem Reserve 

Matpndoni 



Biosphere Reserve 



Malindi-Watamu 
Biosphere Reserve 



f Formosa Bm 

:^ ..X 

Mallndi 9 



Momba^l 



PembaL 
, (TANZANIA) 



INDIAN OCEAN 



S» 




30 60 90 120 150 km 



41° 




Western Indian Ocean 183 



Kenya and 
southern Somalia 



MAP 7a 




K6ny3 has a relatively narrow coastal plain to 
the south, with a series of raised Pleistocene reef 
platforms above the present day intertidal platform. 
North of Malindi the coastal plain becomes much broader 
and is dominated by older sedimentary plains. There is a 
relatively narrow continental shelf, only extending about 
5 kilometers offshore south of Malindi, broadening to 60 
kilometers offshore in the north. There are two major 
permanent rivers, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki which reaches 
the coast in an estuary just north of Malindi, and the Tana 
which lies further north again and reaches the coast in 
a large delta with associated swamps, mangrove com- 
munities and shifting dunes. There are several nearshore 
islands, notably those of the Lamu Archipelago in the 
mouth of Lamu and Manda Bays, but also a chain of about 
50 calcareous barrier islands further north around Kiunga. 
Patterns of coastal currents are largely driven by the 
major oceanographic currents. South of Malindi, the East 
African Coastal Current flows northeast throughout the 
year coming up from Tanzania and originally driven by 
the South Equatorial Current. North of Malindi this same 
East African Coastal Current continues to flow for part of 
the year during the Southeast Monsoon (April-October). 
During the Northeast Monsoon (December-March), 



however, it is reversed, countered by the southward 
flowing Somali Current. Around Malindi the two currents 
meet and flow out to sea, forming the North Equatorial 
Counter Current. 

Fringing reefs are well developed in southern Kenya. 
However, to the north, where there are large areas of loose 
sediment and significant freshwater influences, levels of 
development are lower. There are fringing reefs in places 
off the Lamu islands, and also along many of the barrier 
islands further north. 

Patterns of biodiversity appear to follow patterns of 
reef development, with generally higher diversity in the 
south. Active coral growth is not continuous along the 
fringing reefs, but is interspersed with extensive seagrass 
and algal beds. Where hard substrates occur, live coral 
cover was typically about 30 percent prior to 1998. Some 
55 coral genera and up to 200 species have been recorded 
in Kenya. Mangroves are widespread in creeks and inlets 
as well as the larger estuaries. Important mangrove 
communities are also found on the leeward shores of 
offshore islands and on their corresponding mainland 
coasts. There are very important nesting communities of 
terns and gulls on a number of offshore islands, notably 
the barrier islands in Kiunga. Much of the Kenyan 



A saddleback butterflyfish Chaetodon falcula over a shallow reef scene. 



18A 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




coastline was severely affected by the 1998 coral 
bleaching, with 50-90 percent of corals appearing to 
bleach and many of these subsequently dying. Impacts on 
soft corals were even more severe. 

Coastal areas of Kenya are densely populated and 
there are large-scale artisanal and commercial fisheries. 
Fishing using handlines. traps, spearguns and gill and 
seine nets is common, with artisanal fishing concentrated 
in lagoons and commercial fishing also operating from 
sail-powered dhows. Other fisheries, including netting for 
aquarium fish and sport fishing in offshore waters, are 



Kenya 




General Data 






Population (thousands] 




30 3^0 


GDP (million US$1 




9 621 


Land area (km^j 




587 709 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




117 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


5 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%) 




91 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




630 


Coral diversity 




na/237 


Mangrove area (km^l 




530 


No. of mangrove species 




9 


No. of seagrass species 




13 



increasing. Exploitation is heavy and stocks in several 
localities are considered to be overexploited. A number of 
marine parks and reserves have been established, however. 
Fishing is prohibited in the parks and only "traditional" 
methods of handlines and traps are permitted in the 
reserves. Protection of these areas has had clear impacts, 
with increases in fish abundance and diversity as well as 
live coral cover. Sea urchin densities are notably higher in 
non-protected reefs, and this may be impacting coral cover 
and topographic complexity. 

Tourism is a major industry for Kenya, and of the 
750 000 holiday makers visiting the country annually, 70 
percent spend at least part of their time on the coast. 
Coastal tourism is particularly focussed in the southern 
areas, including Malindi, Mombasa and Diani. Many of 
the hotels have direct frontage onto the marine parks and 
so visitor numbers are high. Diving is a popular activity in 
many of the southern reefs, but there is only a limited 
infrastructure for recreational diving in the north. Diving 
activities peak from October until April when water 
conditions tend to be clearer and calmer 

Overexploitation is a continuing problem on many 
Kenyan reefs, including illegal activities in protected areas, 
although policing is increasingly effective in places. There 
has been local opposition to the establishment of the Diani 
Marine Reserve due to a perceived loss of benefits - 
efforts are being made to address this. Increasing levels of 
sediment load arising from ex situ changes in landuse are 
a problem, particularly in the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River, 
and are probably affecting reefs near Malindi. Direct 
physical damage by divers (primarily coral breakage) has 
been clearly demonstrated, but only affects small areas 



Left: Zoanthids, tike fh/s one in Kenya, are closely related to scleractinian corals and sea anemones. Right: A nalolo 
fa/enny Ecsenius nalolo shelters under the protective spines of a sea urchin. 



Western Indian Ocean 



185 



1^ 

Protected 


areas 


with 


coral reefs 










f Site name 








Designation , 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cal. 


Size ikm'l 


1 
Year i 


Kenya 


Diani 








Marine National Reserve 


MNaR 


VI 


75.00 


1993 


Kisite 








Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


28.00 


1978 


Kiunga 








Marine National Reserve 


MNaR 


VI 


250.00 


1979 


Malindi ' 








Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


6.30 


1968 


Malindi-Watamu 








Marine National Reserve 


MNaR 


VI 


177.00 


1968 


Mombasa 








Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


10.00 


1986 


Mombasa 








Marine National Reserve 


MNaR 


VI 


200.00 


1986 


Mpunguti 








Marine National Reserve 


MNaR 


VI 


11.00 


1978 


Watamu 








Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


32.00 


1968 


Kiunga Marine National Reserve 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






600.00 


1980 


Malindi-Watamu Bi 


OSPHERE 


Reserve 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






196.00 


1979 





and is probably countered by the increased protection 
given to important tourist sites. Anchor damage in the 
protected areas is limited through a system of user 
moorings, however these are rarely used outside protected 
areas. There do not appear to be major impacts associated 
with eutrophication. 

Southern Somalia 

The coastline of southern Somalia in many ways continues 
the patterns of northern Kenya. The continental shelf 
begins to narrow again. The Shabelle and Juba Rivers 
converge and enter the sea near Kismaayo where there is 
an estuarine and mangrove system. Close to the Kenyan 
border there is a continuation of the chain of small barrier 
islands, known as the Bajuni Archipelago. The same pat- 
terns of ocean currents are found in this region as in 
northern Kenya. During the Northeast Monsoon the Somali 
Current flows from the northeast while during the 
Southeast Monsoon the East African Coastal Current 
reaches considerable strengths, generating cold upwellings 
which are responsible for inhibiting reef development 
further north along this coastline. Fringing reefs are 
relatively well developed in the south and around the 
islands of the Bajuni Archipelago, but further north the 
diversity and abundance of living coral decreases, 
although fossil structures remain. Data on biodiversity are 
unavailable for southern Somalia, but it is likely that the 
trend of decreasing diversity towards the north continues. 
Political instability in southern Somalia has preven- 
ted the gathering of information about the reefs, or their 



utilization by local human populations in Somalia for a 
number of years. The instability is clearly a problem for 
biodiversity protection, particularly in the south, where 
security is weakest. There are currently no effective legal 
controls on the exploitation of natural resources, and these 
are clearly not a priority. In some areas natural resources 
may actually be protected by such instability, but over- 
exploitation is likely to be an issue. 



^^^^^ Somal 


ia 






General Data 








Population Ithousandsl 






7 253 


GDP [million US$1 






686 


Land area (km'l 






639 129 


Marine area (thousand km^l 






828 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


2 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk l%l 






95 


Recorded coral diseases 









Biodiversity 








Reef area (km^l 






710 


Coral diversity* 






59/308 


Mangrove area jkm^l 






910 


No. of mangrove species 






6 


No. of seagrass species 






4 


• The higher coral diversity figure is 1 


■ikely 


to be a considerable 


overestimate as it is based on the biogeog 


raphic regi 


on whrch 


includes the Gulf of Aden and Socotra 







186 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Tanzania 



MAP 7b 




The Tanzanian coastline runs approximately north- 
south and is dominated by three large offshore 
islands, those of Pemba, Zanzibar' and Mafia. Of 
these. Zanzibar and Mafia, together with most of the 
mainland coast and numerous smaller islands and islets, 
are largely formed by raised Pleistocene reef platforms, 
providing a low-lying coastal plain occasionally broken by 
alluvial deposits associated with the major rivers. The 
continental shelf is relatively narrow, typically 8-10 
kilometers wide, but extending to a little over 40 
kilometers around Zanzibar and Mafia. Pemba Island is 
also limestone, but dates back to the Miocene. Pemba is 
separated from the mainland continental shelf by the 
Pemba Channel which reaches over 800 meters in depth. 
There are fringing reef systems along much of the 
mainland coast and the offshore islands, although these 
are broken around some of the bays and estuaries, most 
notably around the Rufiji Delta and northwards where 
there are considerable inputs of riverine sediments. The 
coastline is swept by the northwards flowing East African 
Coastal Current throughout the year, though this is at its 
most powerful during the Southeast Monsoon (April- 
October), and is reduced by northeasterly winds during 
the Northeast Monsoon (December-MarchJ. 



20 km 



Coral reefs are well developed in many places. Close 
to the mainland there are fringing and patch reefs along 
much of the coast to the north of the Pangani River, with 
a wide lagoon with only occasional patch reefs fiirther 
south around Dar es Salaam. Coral cover is highly varied, 
with estimates on different patch reefs varying between 
1 and 80 percent. Clearly in some areas reefs are not 
actively developing, and represent little more than 
occasional coral growth on Pleistocene reef deposits. 
Coral diversity increases with distance from the coast, 
and up to 39 genera of coral have been reported from 
individual patch reefs off the Tanga coast. Fringing reefs 
begin again off the mainland coast south of the Rufiji 
Delta and are very well developed, with deep spur and 
groove formations on outer slopes. These are particularly 
well represented in the areas around and to the south of 
Mtwara where undamaged reefs, especially those further 
offshore, often show over 50 percent live coral cover. 

Offshore reefs are highly developed around the main 
three islands, their associated islets, and the Songo Songo 
Archipelago in the south. Reefs around parts of Pemba are 
prolific, with corals recorded to 64 meters, and cover on 
western reef slopes at 21-60 percent. Cover tends to be 
low (rarely above 15 percent) on eastern shores of all the 



Left: A fishing dhow just beyond the reef, with an uplifted coralline shore of Chumbe Island, Zanzibar Right: The 
Zanzibar Channel in Tanzania, with numerous important patch reefs ISTS026-42-85. 19881. 




Pemba I. 



River Atr^ 



'Pangani ''^t'/ 

'.* Maziwi Island MR 



/ 



"^i 



figcai 



y.Ziinzibqi', 
Saacfan; G/S Iv Chamiel'< 

jiiver Wami 



River R\f* 



10° 



Zanzibar I' 



^.' 



r 



tOulioni 



*H "; ! ■'ft i' 

Doriya*V f%- 






Pangavini MR 
Fungu Yasini MR 



Doriya 

MbudyaMR 1: „ , , j.,„ 

\-i Bongoyo Island MR 



OAR ES SALAAM 



TANZANIA 



^V. 





Xathaml 



Mafill. 



' Kisimani" Mafia Island MP 
Channel 



\ <5, V^^ Songo Song 
M': • >J A Arcmpelag( 



Songo 

• To 



••As. ♦ <4 

Kllvra Kivinje^> 



41° 



MAP 7b 

42° 




CbanguuL^ 

^ . v-^.^.. Chflpwam I, 
BawiLy^ , 

^'"' C' si: 

, ^ » r tSZanzlbar 

Murogo'L'*^ : ; ' 
Nyange I^^ . : ,•■ 

js^^V Paige LI. r^ 

V ^ .• ■> MeneiBeyCA , 

ChiinieL,^-. ,^ "», Kiwml/ \ \ 



cnumbe Island 

Coral Parif 
(CHICOPj MR 



Zanzibar 
Channel 



\ 



%^:^M i vv 

. ._, — 1 

\T^ MenaiBay ^ / 



Kwaler 
Pungume 



fe. 



4 a 12 tan 



M'20' "" 










• NachingWea '^ 



8° 




39° 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




larger islands, probably due to the very high wave energies 
which impact these coasts. Misali Island, just west of 
Pemba, has been singled out for having some of the 
highest recorded coral cover, and high species diversity 
with 40 genera of coral and 350 fish species. Chumbe and 
Mnemba islands off Zanzibar have been similarly singled 
out as offshore islands with diverse and well protected 
reefs. It is possible that similar diversity may be recorded 
from other reefs, many of which have yet to receive 
detailed scientific attention. Mafia Island has extensive 
reefs, particularly in the south, many of which remain in 
good condition. Some 380 fish species and 45 coral 
genera have been recorded from this area. Likewise there 
are many important reefs around the Songo Songo 
Archipelago, with the slightly deeper reefs, and those 
furthest from the mainland, remaining in good condition. 
Finally, Latham Island (Fungu Kisimkasi) is a tiny island 
with an associated fringing reef system lying off the 
continental shelf some 80-100 kilometers east of the 
mainland south of Dar es Salaam. There are no detailed 
descriptions of the reefs but the island has some very 
important bird colonies. 

Mangroves are well developed in most river mouths, 
and seagrass ecosystems are widespread, particularly in 
the shallow waters around the Mafia and Songo Songo 
Archipelagos. The 1998 coral bleaching event had a 
significant impact on most reefs, although this was far 
from uniform. Around Mafia Island reefs dominated by 
Acropora suffered 70-90 percent mortality, but those 
with less Acropora were far less affected. Similar local 



variation in the degree of impact between reefs was noted 
in Zanzibar. 

The coastal population in Tanzania is very large, 
mostly concentrated in Tanga, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and 
Mtwara. Rapid population growth along the coasts, 
combined with poverty and poor management and under- 
standing of coastal resources, has led to the rapid and 



Tanzania 




General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




35 306 


GDP (million US$i 




na 


Land area (km^j 




9a 983 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




241 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


10 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




99 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




3 580 


Coral diversity* 




na/3U 


Ivlangrove area (km'l 




1 155 


No. of mangrove species 




10 


No. of seagrass species 




10 


• The higher coral diversity figure is an estimate for fvl 


ozambique 


and Tanzania combined 







Left: A hawksbili turtle Eretmochelys imbricata. Right: The Rufiji Delta, showing the large inputs of sediments, but also 
the important areas of mangrove forest ISTS026-42-87. 19881. 



Western Indian Ocean 



189 



Protected 


areas 


with coral reefs 










P Site name 




Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN »i. 


Size ikin'i 


Year 


Tanzania 


Bongoyo Island 




Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


na 


1975 


Chumbe Island Coral Park 


Marine Sanctuary 


MS 


II 


0.30 


1994 


Fungu Yasini 




Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


na 


1975 


Mafia Island 




Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


822.00 


1995 


Maziwi Island 




Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


na 


1981 


Mbudya 




Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


na 


1975 


Menai Bay 




Conservation Area 


CA 


VI 


470.00 


1997 


Misali Island 




Conservation Area 


CA 


VI 


21.58 


1998 


Mnazi Bay 




Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


650.00 


2000 


Mnemba 




Conservation Area 


CA 


VI 


0.15 


1997 


Pangavini 




Marine Reserve 


MR 


II 


na 


1975 





extreme degradation of coral reefs and other coastal 
communities along large sectors of the coast. Fishing is a 
critical activity, providing a major protem source for much 
of the coastal population. Overfishing is a problem on 
most reefs, and has been exacerbated by destructive fishing 
practices. Most notable among these are various seine-net 
fishing techniques in which a small mesh (2-8 centimeters) 
net with a weighted foot rope is dragged through the 
benthos, either onto the beach or directly into a boat. Some 
techniques additionally involve beating the substrate with 
poles to frighten fish into the net and/or use of a very 
small mesh scoop to haul fish from the water Dynamite 
fishing was also once widespread, but its use has been 
reduced drastically throughout the country following a 
nationwide campaign in 1996-97. This involved major 
community-driven action which included naming culprits, 
but also an amnesty for all those who surrendered their 
dynamite and made a public statement not to re-offend. 
Coral mining is another highly destructive activity which is 
also widespread along the entire coast. In 2000 it was 
estimated that 1 500 tons of coral were being mined every 
year from the Mikindani Bay area in southern Tanzania 
alone. Some 12 percent of Tanga's reefs are believed to be 
totally destroyed, largely through destructive fishing, and a 
further 64 percent are in poor to moderate condition. 

There is only primary sewage treatment in Zanzibar 
Town, and little or no treatment on any of the mainland 
coast. Tourism is a growing and important sector of the 
economy, but there are few environmental controls and 
there may be increasing impacts on the reefs. Nonetheless, 
tourism is also providing impetus for further reef pro- 



tection measures in a number of areas. The Chumbe Island 
Coral Park provides the best example of "low impact" 
tourism in the region, and tourism here provides support 
not only for reef management, but also for an important 
education program with schools and local communities in 
Zanzibar. One further coastal activity that has grown 
rapidly since 1989 is commercial seaweed farming, now 
practiced along the majority of the coastline of Zanzibar 
and increasing on Mafia, Pemba and the mainland coast. 
This activity is low technology and hence is being taken 
up at the community and individual family level and may 
be reducing pressure on fish resources. 

Although a number of marine reserves were desig- 
nated in 1975 none of these was fully implemented. 
Subsequent legislation under the Marine Parks and 
Reserves Act in 1994 has rectified this situation and there 
are now five marine reserves and two marine parks 
designated under this act. The latter are large areas, 
incorporating reefs and other ecosystems, with zoning 
systems and focussing towards sustainable use. Protected 
areas are declared under separate legislation in Zanzibar 
and Pemba. The Menai Bay Conservation Area off the 
south coast of Zanzibar was established in 1997 and is one 
of a number of new marine protected areas being operated 
at the local level, with local government and community 
involvement in park utilization and management. 



1. Officially this island is known as Unguja, while the term Zanzibar 
refers to the administrative state which includes both this island and 
Pemba. Despite this, the term Zanzibar is most commonly used in 
relation to the single island, and this is the usage applied here. 



MAP7C 



34° 



14" 



18° 




Palma • 



I Tecoimjt 
/) L Rongui 
MaiflpaBay 



^ 



LMetundo ; 



Modmboa • ^^s-, 
da Praia *.'■•. ^Tanbuzi 



% 



^ 5J Quirimbass 
Xrchipelago 




TANZANIA 




' COMOROS 



14° 



MOZAMBIQUE 



jf-^ 



A, 

jy Quelimane 



^^^ -• L Moma Aichipelago 

»»»*^ <■■- 

*. , ■*■. ■•. "L Epidendron 

, „., '; ■■. 'LCasuariiia 

L Suva • 1 CjOKO. n ■ 

Archipelago 






\ 



MADAGASCAR 



18" 



v'Umtali 



Manomeu GR. 



$ 



"^=7 



SOUTH 
AFRICA 



- Beire 

4 



22° 



BazanitoNP \, 



Pomene GR ■ 



Bazaiuto 
Archipelago 



\ 



S Inhambane 



% 



/ 



Mozambique 
Channel 



Bassas da India 
(FRANCE) 



I. de L'Europa 

(FRANCE) 



INDIAN OCEAN 



Ramsar 



SOUTH AFRICA 



Greater St Lucia 

Wetland Park 

World Heritage Site ,- 






s 



Turtle Beaches/Coral 

Reefs of Tongaland 

Ramsar Site 



Greater St Lucia WP 



St Lucia S/stem 
Ramsar Site 



10 20 30 km 
32-30' 33*00' 



22- 



26° \ siif MAPUTO Ilhas da Inhaca e 

*-•<>- -Oj *" dos Portugueses FR 



^,( Inhaca I. 
Maputo 



9 



SOUTH . 
AFRICA 



26' 



N 



34° 



38° 



60 120 180 240 30 km 
42° 



Western Indian Ocean 191 



Mozambique 
and South Africa 



MAP7C 




M0Z3mDJC|U6 has a long coastline facing 
ihe Mozambique Cliannel and Madagascar. In 
tlie north, heavily faulted Cretaceous to Tertiary 
sediments line the coast. South of Angoche the coastline 
is dominated by Quaternary to Recent sediments, largely 
sands interspersed with heavy alluvial deposits, particularly 
in the central region between Angoche and Bazaruto 
Island where some 24 rivers meet the coast, including 
the large delta areas of the Zambezi and Save Rivers. 
In many areas the sands form flat plains, although high 
dune systems are also common, particularly in the 
southern third of the country where they often lie in front 
of coastal barrier lakes and swamps. There are several 
offshore island groups, including a number of small 
coralline islands directly south of the border with 
Tanzania, the Quirimbass Archipelago, and two short 
island chains due south of Angoche - the Primeiro and 
Segundo Archipelagos. Larger islands include those of the 
Bazaruto Archipelago and Inhaca Island in the far south. 
The continental shelf is less than 20 kilometers wide in the 
north, broadening to a maximum of about 130 kilometers 
in the center of the country and then narrowing again in 
the south. 

The South Equatorial Current which flows westwards 



across the Indian Ocean meets the East African coastline 
in the region of the Tanzania/Mozambique border where it 
then divides, with one branch forming the constant south- 
flowing Mozambique Current. Part is deflected eastwards 
south of Inhambane and forms a gyre, circulating in the 
Mozambique Channel, and the remainder flows on to join 
the Agulhas Current off South Africa. Aside from these 
main current patterns there are a number of counter 
currents associated with the larger embayments along this 
coastline, and these create quite strong north-flowing 
coastal currents in places. 

Fringing reefs are numerous along the northern 
coastline away from river mouths and around the offshore 
islands, with mangroves and patch reefs on the western 
shores and simpler reef profiles along exposed eastern 
shores. Over 50 hard coral genera and over 300 reef 
fish species have been recorded from the Quirimbass 
Archipelago. Diversity and coral cover appear to be lower 
in the Primeiro and Segundo Archipelagos, which may 
be related to cold water upwellings, but this region has 
extensive seagrass and important dugong and turtle 
populations. There are also reported to be large seabird 
nesting colonies on some of these islands. 

The central section of the coastline has been called 



A large school of convict surgeon Acanthurus triostegus, which are important algal grazers on some shallow reefs. 



192 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 





the swamp coast, and is dominated by riverine sediments. 
These prevent any major reef developments, while there 
are extensive mangroves inshore. Further south again, reef 
development is limited, but there are true reefs as well 
as rocky structures with coral communities around both 
the Bazaruto and Inhaca Islands. At the former, reefs 
are mostly patch reef structures, and active growth is 
restricted to the shallowest waters, but here coral cover 



Mozamb 


ique 




General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




19 1Q5 


GDP (million US$1 




2 089 


Land area Ikm^l 




788 629 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




565 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


2 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk [%1 




76 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikm^j 




1 860 


Coral diversity* 




19^/3U 


Mangrove area (km^l 




925 


No. of mangrove species 




10 


No. of seagrass species 




8 


■ The lltgher coral diversity figure is an estimate for 


Mozambique 


and Tanzania combined 







can reach 90 percent, and some 27 scleractinian coral 
genera have been recorded. Three small fringing reefs 
have developed off Inhaca and Portugueses Islands, as 
well as a number of smaller patch reefs. These have been 
relatively well studied and have a high diversity of corals 
and fish. Elsewhere there are anecdotal reports of 
extensive coral and gorgonian communities in offshore 
areas, but there have been few, if any, surveys of the 
region. Probably the largest remaining population of 
dugongs is found in the Bazaruto Archipelago, estimated 
at 150 individuals in the early 1990s, but thought to 
have declined to 60-80 animals by 1999. Crown-of-thorns 
starfish are reported to have destroyed a number of reef 
areas off Bazaruto and Inhambane. 

The 1998 coral bleaching event appears to have 
caused significant mortality of corals in Mozambique, 
particularly in the north, but with considerable variation in 
the degree of impact between localities. 

Mozambique has a large coastal population. The 
majority of these people moved to urban areas during the 
civil unrest which ended in 1992. These are a source of 
considerable pollutants to nearby coastal waters as most 
sewage is untreated. Away from these urban areas much of 
the coastline is dominated by slash-and-burn agriculture, 
which releases sediments and nutrients into nearby 
waters. Tourism is growing, particularly in the south, and 
is generally considered detrimental to the environment, 
especially vehicular or camping-based tourism from South 
Africa which brings few benefits to the country, and may 
lead to unsustainable levels of recreational fishing and 



Left: The Quinmbass Archipelago has some of the most important reef areas in Mozambique IST551I-31-45. 19851. Right: 
The shore crab Grapsus is widespread on rocky shores throughout the region. 



Western Indian Ocean 



193 



Protected areas with 


coral reefs 










Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikmil 


Year 


Mozambique 












Bazaruto 


National Parl( 


NP 


II 


150.00 


1971 


llhas da Inhaca e dos Portugueses 


Faunal Reserve 


FR 


VI 


20.00 


1965 


South Africa 


Greater St. Lucia ISouth Africa] 


Wetland Park 


WP 


II 


2 586.86 


1895 


Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park 


World Heritage Site 






2 395.66 


1999 


Turtle Beaches/ 

Coral Reefs of Tongalano 


Ramsar Site 






395.00 


1986 





damage to turtle nesting beaches. Efforts to develop coastal 
resorts have also been poorly controlled to date, although 
this may be changing. Most reef-based tourism operates 
around the Bazaruto Archipelago and there is evidence of 
significant damage to reefs caused by divers and boats. 

Fishing is an important activity in Mozambique. 
Trawling for prawns dominates the commercial fishery 
and generates 40 percent of the country's foreign 
exchange earnings. This catch is highly dependent on the 
mangroves and estuaries which act as nursery areas. There 
is little agreement about the overall size of the artisanal 
catch, with estimates that these may make up anywhere 
between 20 and 70 percent of total landings (estimates of 
total landings similarly vary between 18 500 and 90 000 
tons per year). Fishing is considerable on the Quirimbass 



South A< 


rica 




General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




^3 421 


GDP Imilllon US$) 




1U585 


Land area (km^l 




1 223 124 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 525 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


8 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk |%| 




na 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




<50 


Coral diversity 




na / na 


Mangrove area Ikm^) 




11 


No. of mangrove species 




6 


No. of seagrass species 




3 



reefs and seagrass systems, and there are now migrant 
fishermen coming to the region, bringing the potential for 
overfishing. E.xploitation of the Primeiro and Segundo 
Archipelagos is relatively low due to the lack of perma- 
nent human settlement and often rough seas. Removal of 
molluscs for the curio trade is reported to be of signifi- 
cance on a number of reefs. 

Mozambique still has many reefs which have escaped 
heavy human impact, however this is changing, and quite 
rapidly in some areas. There are only two protected areas 
which incorporate reefs and, while there are active 
management measures in place at these sites, there are 
no immediate proposals for any protected areas on the 
important reefs in the north of the country. 



South Africa 

Although reef communities extend into the waters of South 
Africa it is arguable whether these are true reef structures. 
There are three main areas: the northern, central and 
southern reef complexes. All are submerged communities 
growing over late Pleistocene dune and beach sequences, 
and reaching a minimum depth of about 8 meters. Diversity 
is lower than the reefs of more northern countries, with 
only 43 species of scleractinian coral recorded. Coral cover 
(hard and soft) is high, however, making up almost 50 
percent of benthic cover (and 95 percent of the live cover). 
These reefs were largely unaffected by the 1998 coral 
bleaching event. Large numbers of divers visit the reefs, 
with over 90 000 recreational dives per year, mostly 
visiting Two Mile Reef in the central complex. Lying 
offshore, these areas are not threatened by terrestrial 
sources of pollution or sedimentation, and they are 
protected within the St. Lucia Marine Reserve (a part of 
the wetland park). Artisanal fishing is permitted in much 
of the reserve. 



194 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Madagascar 



MAP7d 




Madagascar is one of the world's largest islands. 
Along with the Indian sub-continent it was 
separated off from the rest of Africa during the 
Jurassic, and was then separated from the Indian sub- 
continent (and the granitic Seychelles) during the late 
Jurassic/early Cretaceous. There are clear differences 
between the physical conditions and resulting ecological 
communities on the east and west coasts. The east coast is 
steep and, in places, mountainous. This is matched by a 
steeply shelving bathymetry and narrow continental shelf 
The centra! and southern sections of this coast are domi- 
nated by vast sandy beaches and barrier islands and there is 
no offshore reef development. Further north the coastline 
becomes more complex, with a number of embayments and 
rocky headlands as well as offshore islands. There are a 
number of emergent fossil reefs along the more northerly 
sections of this coastline. Active coral growth is also 
widespread in the north, often growing on fossil structures 
offshore, although not always contributing to active reef 
accretion. There is a submerged and fragmented barrier 
reef described off Toamasina, although the recent status of 
this is unclear. Discontinuous fringing reefs also occur off 
the coast around Foulpointe and Mananara, Nosy Boraha 
(Sainte Marie Island), and the Masoala Peninsula. 



The west coast consists of a wide coastal plain, with 
numerous rivers, and also a wider continental shelf This 
coast is swept by the northward flowing currents of the 
Mozambique Gyre and is further affected by large tidal 
ranges. Reef development is extensive in both the northern 
and southern parts of this coast. The southernmost reefs are 
offshore around Banc de I'Etoile and Nosy Manitsa. There 
are extensive fringing reefs along much of the coast north of 
Androka as far as Cap St. Vincent, varying between 500 
meters and a few kilometers offshore, and separated from 
the shore by a generally shallow channel. Around Tulear a 
more complex system of offshore reefs is present, with 
shoreline fringing communities, a series of inner lagoon 
reefs, and a well developed barrier reef- the Grand Recif- 
which runs continuously for 18 kilometers. Between the 
Bale des Assassins and Morombe a sequence of reefs, many 
with associated sand cays, has developed offshore, forming 
a fragmented barrier reef system. This same barrier system 
reappears north of the Mangoky Delta with a series of 
submerged banks and emergent reefs with sand cays. Along 
most of the central section of the west coa.st there is no reef 
development, probably due to the terrigenous sediments 
discharged from rivers. Offshore, however, there are reefs 
towards the edge of the continental shelf associated with the 



Left: One of the best known reefs In Madagascar Is the Grand Recif, a barrier reef close to Tulear ISTS065-84-92, 19941. Right: 
Terrigenous sediments impact or inhibit reef development along considerable lengths of Madagascar's coast, as here at the 
Mangoky Delta. Sedimentation has been greatly increased by poor landuse practices often far inland ISTS033-7I-94, 19891. 



12° 



14° 



16° 



18° 



20° 



:44° 



:46° 



COMOROS ^^'', 



t 



MAYOTTE 
(FRANCE) 



^ BancduBisson 
Banc du Borneo 
L Banc du Geyser 



;4B° 



NosyMitsio 



c 



50° 
Capd'Ambre 
■'-i 

a OI6goSuarez 



MAP7d 



12° 



\ 



'f. 



iiosy Bi^^Ambaro!^ . Ambilobe 



L 



• Voh6mar 



Mozambique 
Channel 



NosyRadama' > 

Radama \'^ 
Archipelago ^' - 



f^.f. 



Ambanja 



/T'-^#'* 



^^^.. 



. Mahaianga 



^'^ 



rSo!^" 



* Antalaha 



Maroantsetra 



Reserve de la biosphere 
•?. du Mananara Nord 



• Masoala ) 
Peninsula 



■^ .■'/ Cap Masoala 

• Marovoay ^ flosp/iere Rese/ve » , Baie d'AntongU 



4. 



Bancdu \ 
Pracel -* 



i 



; Mananam Marine NP 



Juan de Nova 
(FRANCE) 



•/ 



Maevatanana 






• Fenerive 
* Foulpointe 



Nosy Boiaha 



i 



lies Barren '^i \ 



< 



y 



Mozambique 
Channel 



MADAGASCAR • ANTANANARiVO 



• Vatomandry 




•^V 



Belo-Sur-Mer 



V 



• Antsirabe 



• Ambostoa 



/ 

"• Mananjary 



?2' 



Cap SL Vincent /ij * 
Bme des Assassins i i^ 



^rN*"*' 



Rive'' 



ioky 



^ 



r^_. 



V 



Grand RecifV^"*^ ^/v^rO»//ohy 



' thosy 



• Betroka 



f Manakara 



• Farafangana 



INDIAN OCEAN 



w... 



r 






Androita * 



42° 



NosyMfflilsa • Lavanono 
;44° "'''I'Etoile 



46° 



14* 



16^ 



18' 



20° 



22° 





50 


24° 


It Dauphin 


N 

+ 

100 150 200 250 km 


48° 




50° 52° 



196 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas 


wi 


th 


coral reefs 










I Site name 






Designation 


Abbreviation 


iUCN cal. 


Size (km'l 


Year 

.1 


Madagascar 


Mananara Marine 






National Park 


NP 


II 


10.00 


1989 


Reserve de la biosphere 
Du Mananara Nord 






UNESCO Biosphere 
Reserve 






1 /iOO.OO 


1990 


" 



lies Barren and the Banc du Pracel, although these remain 
poorly documented. In the northeast, fringing reefs re- 
appear along the coast and the offshore islands, notably 
Nosy Be and the Mitsio and Radama Archipelagos, although 
their distribution is discontinuous around the many rivers 
and bays. On the outer edge of the continental shelf in the 
far north, there is another series of raised banks, actually 
forming a near continuous ridge which may be the remains 
of a large barrier reef system. Coral cover is reported to be 
very high along the outer slopes, heavily dominated by 
formations of the sheet coral Pachvseris speciosa. 

Most research has been centered around Nosy Be in the 
north and Tulear in the south, and very little is known about 
the intervening reef areas. Some 130 species of scleractinian 
coral and 700 fish species have been recorded on the reefs 
off Tulear, but it has been estimated that there may be 200 
coral species and 1 500 fish species in the whole country. 
Along the western coastline, mangroves form a major 
community and seagrasses are widespread, often forming 
the dominant communities in the channels behind fringing 
reefs. It would appear that most reefs were hit by the 1998 
bleaching event, although data on the impacts are only 
available for a few sites. Some 30 percent bleaching was 
observed on the mid-west coast, for example at Belo-sur- 
Mer, but bleaching-related mortality was relatively low. 

For its size. Madagascar is relatively sparsely 
populated. The majority of the coastal population is con- 
centrated on the eastern coast, while the western coast is 
less developed, aside from the larger cities of Tulear and 
Mahajanga. It is this west coast, however, that also supports 
the majority of fishing and tourism-based activities. 
Artisanal fishing is a critical activity, accounting for an 
estimated 55 percent of all fishery production from an 
estimated 1 250 fishing villages operating over 20 000 small 
vessels (pirogues, mostly without engines). Reef-associated 
species are heavily relied upon, accounting for 43 percent 
of total production. It remains a largely traditional fishery, 
although there are increasing numbers of migrant fishers 
who do not observe existing customs and taboos. Larger- 
scale commercial and export fisheries make up the 
remainder of the fishery and, together with aquaculture. 



provide critical foreign exchange earnings. Tourism is 
another important and relatively rapidly developing activity, 
with at least 50 percent of arrivals visiting the coast. 

One of the greatest threats to Madagascar's reefs is 
siltation from inappropriate landuse practices. Most of 
Madagascar's land area has been converted from natural 
systems and soil erosion affects nearly 80 percent of the 
island, with massive sedimentation offshore. Urban and 
industrial waste is poorly controlled and a problem near 
major cities. Overfishing may be significant - fishing levels 
have greatly increased in recent years and there is evidence 
of reduced yields. Despite the considerable potential for 
ecotourism most developments seem to have been poorly 
planned and contribute to pollution, while also causing 
conflicts with local fishing communities. There is only one 
marine protected area with coral reefs, the Mananara Marine 
National Park on the northeast coast which incorporates 
three coral islets, including Nosy Antafana. This site has two 
rangers and there is some community involvement in its 
management. There are a number of proposals for new parks. 



Madagascar 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




15 506 


GDP (miUicn US$1 




3 26^ 


Land area Ikm^l 




59^ 85^ 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 205 


Per capita fish consunnption 


(kg/year) 


7 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




87 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area Ikm^l 




2 230 


Coral diversity 




135/315 


Mangrove area (km^l 




3A03 


No. of mangrove species 




9 


No. of seagrass species 




10 



Western Indian Ocean 197 



MayottGp Comoros and 
outlying islands 



MAP 76 




13 km 



There are a number of small oceanic islands lying 
between Mozambique and Madagascar The most 
important of these are the four large volcanic 
islands of the Comoros Archipelago situated at the 
northern entrance to this channel. Mayotte, the eastern- 
most of these islands is a collectivite territoriale under 
French control, while the remaining islands form the 
Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros. Mayotte is 
geologically the oldest and is surrounded by a wide lagoon 
which reaches 70 meters in depth before a barrier reef 
some 3-15 kilometers offshore. The remaining islands are 
surrounded by fringing reefs, although Ngazidja (Grande 
Comore), the youngest island which is still volcanically 
active, has very steep and barren shores and fringing reefs 
are restricted to only a few parts of the coastline. Mwali 
(Moheli) has the most extensive reef systems, with 
fringing reefs on all coasts. East of these islands lies the 
Banc du Geyser/Zelee (Map 7d), a horseshoe-shaped reef 
which is probably part of the same volcanic system. This 
reef breaks the surface during low tides, and lies between 
Mayotte and the French territory of lies Glorieuses. All 
of these reefs lie in the path of the westward flowing 
Equatorial Counter Current, which coincides with the 
northern leg of the Mozambique Gyre. 



Mayotte 



Mayotte "s reefs are relatively well studied, and harbor more 
than 200 species of coral. They were adversely affected by 
a bleaching event in 1982-83, which apparently caused mor- 
tality and degradation on about 36 percent of the fringing 
reefs. Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks since 1983 have 
been a major problem, although a bounty system resulted in 
fishermen collecting large numbers, with a peak of some 
8 000 collected in 1998. The 1998 bleaching event caused 
even more widespread mortality, with greater than 90 per- 
cent mortality recorded on the outer slopes. Recovery from 
this event is now being noted particularly on the inshore 
reefs. Fisheries and tourism are important activities, with 
some 3 600 fishermen and 9 000 visitor arrivals per year in 
the late 1990s. Two protected areas have been established, 
although these only cover some 2 percent of the total area 
of the lagoon. A comprehensive management plan for the 
lagoon was under development in late 2000. 

Comoros 

The densely populated Comoros is one of the world's 
poorest countries. Deforestation and conversion of land to 
agriculture are creating massive problems of soil erosion. 



Left: Mayotte has a number of fringing reefs and is almost completely encircled by its barrier reef ISTS5W-41-3, 19851. 
Right: Algae, including fleshy green varieties such as this, were quick to colonize many of the bare surfaces following the 
massive coral mortalities of 1998. 



MAP 76 





i 










J 



I • 



i 



.^- 



f 



s 

? 



o 

Q 
fe; 



1 






t I 
I ^ 





Western Indian Ocean 



199 



Protected areas with coral reefs 


' Site name Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat 


Sizeikm^i 


Year 


Mayotte 


Passe de Longogori Strict Fishing Reserve 


SFiR 


VI 


4.50 


1990 


Saziley Parl< 


P 


II 


41.80 


1991 





particularly in Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali. The sub- 
sequent heavy siltation may be affecting large areas of 
the reefs offshore. Fisheries are important, with over 4 500 
registered fishermen operating from traditional boats in 
nearshore waters. Reef walking by fishers gathering octopus 



and small fish is causing some degradation of reef flats. 
Blast fishing is also reported to be a problem on Mwali. 
There is little or no information regarding overfishing 
problems in the Comoros, although as population densities 
continue to rise this may create significant problems. 



H^^^^l Mayotte 


■r 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




156 


GDPImillion US$1 




na 


Land area (km-'l 




375 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




lU 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


na 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




100 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




570 


Coral diversity 




na/313 


Mangrove area (km^l 




10 


No. of mangrove species 




na 


No. of seagrass species 


^^^ 


na 



Comoros 




General Data 






Population (thousands! 




578 


GDP (million US$1 




235 


Land area (km^l 




1 660 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




175 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


20 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%] 




99 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




430 


Coral diversity 




na/3U 


Mangrove area (km'l 




26 


No. of mangrove species 




na 


No. of seagrass species 




4 


■ ' '-^ '"■ 








A bicolor cleaner wrasse Labroides bicolor follows a coral grouper Cephalopholis miniata. Cleaner fishes play a critical 
role in removing parasites and otfier material from many reef fist). 



200 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Seychelles 



MAPS 7f and g 




The Seychelles is a very large archipelagic nation in 
the Western Indian Ocean. The 115 named islands 
and atolls together with their associated reef sys- 
tems can be clearly divided into two distinct regions: the 
high islands to the north and the low coralline islands 
spread over wide areas to the south and southwest. 

The Seychelles Bank lies at the northernmost point of 
the Mascarene Ridge and is a large, shallow area (some 
31 000 square kilometers) of water, mostly above a depth 
of 100 meters. In its center are a number of high granitic 
islands of continental origin. These have been described as 
a "micro-continenf , having been left behind during the 
northwards migration of the Indian sub-continent about 135 
million years ago. These are surrounded by widespread but 
discontinuous, fringing reefs. Along the east coast of Mahe 
and the west coast of Praslin such fringing reefs are well 
developed. Reef flats reaching over 2 kilometers in width 
and terminating in a high algal ridge are followed by a reef 
slope descending to a floor typically at 8-12 meters. Such 
clearly zoned reefs are less apparent in more sheltered 
locations where more complex reef formations have 
developed. Coral cover varies, being virtually absent from 
some former reef structures, but abundant in other areas, 
including non-reefal slopes and granitic surfaces. 



The low coralline islands to the south and west of the 
Seychelles Bank fall into a number of geographic groups. 
The largest is that of the Amirante Islands, which extend 
along a shallow north-south ridge, with the Alphonse group 
forming a slightly separate southern section of this chain. 
Further south are two small and more disparate island 
groups, those of Providence-Farquhar and the Aldabra 
group. Finally, directly to the south of the Seychelles 
Bank are the isolated islands of Platte and Coetivy. The 
reefs in these outer island areas are highly varied, and 
include true atolls (St, Joseph, Alphonse, Farquhar), raised 
atolls (Aldabra), submerged or partially submerged atolls 
(Desroches, Coetivy), and platform or bank structures 
(African Banks, Providence-CerO- Coral cover varies con- 
siderably between localities, ranging from close to zero on 
some banks and reef slopes (notably the large Providence- 
Cerf Bank), to 60-70 percent on some atoll slopes. 

The Seychelles lie in an area of relatively high faunal 
diversity. Some 101 hermatypic coral species and 920 
fish species have been listed. The reef fauna is fairly typi- 
cal of the Western Indian Ocean, as exemplified by the 
reef fish: many are widespread across the ocean basin or 
wider areas of the Indo-Pacific, however about 15 percent 
are confined to the western part. The coral reefs of the 



Aldabra Atoll is a raised atoll in the southwest Seychelles and a World Heritage Site. There are many unique species 
on land, including the last giant tortoises in the region, while the reefs are important and relatively pristine ISTS068- 
248-4i, 19941. 



MAP7f 




;« 
tt^ 



S 



!9 



^ 



to 



O 



Q 



> 

g 



I 




I 



n 
^ p 




^ i^ 



ffs 



^^■i\ 




MAP 79 



to 



.a 






















■ 


a 


r 


^;^ 




^ 






V*"' 


O4 


iM 




s 


^ 


b 





Ki 






F^- 


f- 














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,2 




















£ 










=3 ^ ; 


r^ S 




s, 










^ K 


]^1 




. 


^ 










^1 

<E3 U 




s 






























•J 


" •§ 




s 




5 


J!b 


a. 





-.1 ^ 


u 


° 




^ 


n 


3 


n 


>, 


s 


1 




1 


S 




J 


B " ^3 


2 




















s 


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D 


•0 23 






a 


i| 









m "" f 











<a 




a 


•i 










B 




:^ 


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< 






Q 






g 






r 


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b 






b 


fc; 







B 
< 






n 

a .2 

I i 



< 











fe; 

O 



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-■| 

s 



I 



-a 






^ 





■^•• 



ill 
i^ 






a 
< 

G 



t 
o 

CA 



Western Indian Ocean 




entire archipelago were very heavily impacted by the 
1997-98 El Nifio event, with bleaching occurring on 
60-95 percent of corals, and subsequent coral mortalities 
of 50-90 percent. The longer-term impacts on the reef 
communities are somewhat unpredictable given the scale 
of damage in all areas. 

Human impacts on the reefs are varied, but clearly 
significant in the granitic islands. Most of the national fish 
consumption is of nearshore fishes, a large proportion 
of which are reef associated. The reefs of the Seychelles 
Bank are thus quite heavily utilized, and there are clearly 
documented examples of overfishing from a few localities. 



Fishing pressure in the southern islands, by contrast, is 
relatively low. There is some fishing by vessels visiting 
from the granitic islands, but also some small commercial 
fisheries operations run from a few of the inhabited islands. 
The offshore tuna populations are the center of a major 
export fishery, with a tuna cannery in Mahe serving a large 
number of vessels from the Indian Ocean. 

Tourism is a critical industry in the Seychelles, being 
one of the main providers of employment and the main 
foreign exchange earner. In 1996 there were some 131 000 
visitors, with receipts totalling US$147 million. Virtually 
all tourism is coastal and beach orientated, with a large 





Above: Shrimpfish Aeoliscus strigatus in their unusual liead-down swimming motion over a shallow reef Left: The massive 
coral mortalities associated with the bleaching event in 1998 allowed many former corals to be overgrown with algal 
species. Right: tie Cocas and its surrounding shallow reefs are one of a number of protected areas in the Seychelles. 



204 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Seyche 


lies 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




79 


GDP (miUion US$1 




i/i9 


Land area (km'l 




A89 


Marine area Itliousand km^) 




1 334 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year| 


65 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




17 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




1 690 


Coral diversity 




206/310 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 




29 


No. of mangrove species 




9 


No. of seagrass species 




8 



proportion of visitors on diving holidays, and many others 
making day trips to reefs. Most tourists remain on the 
granitic islands, but there are now also some exclusive 
developments on the outer islands, while boat-based 
holidays take tourists to most areas. 

Land reclamation has built upon, and destroyed, a 
large area of the fringing reefs of east Mahe, which 
were once the best developed fringing reefs in the country. 
This work has also had impacts on the adjacent reefs 
through heavy sedimentation. Elsewhere terrestrial sources 




of sewage pollution, sediments, and solid waste are 
problematic, while the increases in tourism are bringing 
these problems to new areas. 

There is a clear awareness of environmental issues 
at the governmental level and efforts are being made to 
improve sewage treatment in some areas. A number of 
marine protected areas have been established and active 
management is underway. The remote island of Aldabra has 
long been recognized for its unique flora and fauna and is 
well protected, with a research station and permanent staff. 



Protected 


areas with coral reefs 










■ Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size (km!l 


Year 


Seychelles 


Aldabra 


Special Nature Reserve 


SpNR 


la 


350.00 


1981 


Aride Island 


Special Nature Reserve 


SpNR 


la 


0.70 


1973 


Bale Ternaie 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


0.80 


1979 


!■ Cousin Island 


Special Nature Reserve 


SpNR 


la 


0.28 


1975 


Curieuse 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


U.70 


1979 


lie Cocos 


Protected Area 


PA 


Unassigned 


0.01 


1987 


Port Launay 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


1.58 


1979 


Silhouette 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


30.45 


1987 


St. Anne 


Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


U.23 


1973 


Aldabra Atoll 


World Heritage Site 






350.00 


1982 





The bank of shallow water around Providence and Cerf Islands has the appearance of a true platform reef, although 
recent studies have shown that there is very little living coral on its seaward margins, while the surface is dominated by 
seagrass ISTS033-76-43, 19891. 



Western Indian Ocean 205 



Mauritius and Reunion 



MAP7h 




15knn 



The Mascarene islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and 
Reunion lie at the southern end of the Mascarene 
Ridge and are geologically relatively young. All 
three islands are of volcanic origin and show a clear 
sequence of reef development. Reunion is the youngest. 
Still volcanically active, it lies directly over the hot spot 
which has provided the geological origin of the entire 
Chagos-Laccadive Ridge (Chapter 8), as well as the 
southerly parts of the Mascarene Ridge. Moving east- 
wards the islands become comparatively older, and with 
this the coral reefs are both better developed and 
further offshore. 

In addition to the main islands listed here there are 
several others which fall under the jurisdiction of 
Mauritius and of Reunion. These lie at some distance from 
the main islands and are considered separately, below. 

Mauritius and Rodrigues 

Mauritius is almost completely encircled by fringing 
reefs, with substantial lagoon and barrier reef develop- 
ment on the east and southwest coasts. The lagoons are 
dominated by algae, but with some areas of seagrass. The 
reef slopes have a clear spur and groove zone. Below 



about 20 meters there is usually only a thin veneer of coral 
rock overlying volcanic rocks. Rodrigues is the oldest 
of the volcanic islands and has a highly developed reef 
structure, although a true barrier reef has not formed. The 
island is totally encircled by reefs, with wide shallow reef 
flats extending out from the shore - in the east this 
narrows to 50 meters in places but is more typically 1-2 
kilometers wide, while at its widest extent in the west it 
reaches 10 kilometers. Seagrasses are widespread in the 
lagoon, and reef flats and mangrove communities are 
reported to be increasing. The outer slopes are steep, and 
have 50-70 percent coral cover In Mauritius the 1998 
bleaching event affected 30-40 percent of corals, though 
very few died. The high rates of survival have, in part, 
been related to overcast and windy conditions for much of 
February and March, which were associated with cyclone 
Anacelle and which mitigated the warming impacts 
observed elsewhere in the region. 

Many of the reefs around Mauritius have been 
degraded by human activities. Problems include high 
levels of sedimentation and pollution arising from the 
clearance of the forest and subsequent agricultural runoff. 
Further pollution comes from domestic and light indus- 
trial effluents. There has also been direct damage to the 



Left: Mauritius tias fringing reefs on most of its coastiine, but also a barrier reef in the southeast ISTSt03-731-80, 19991. 
Right: The schooling bannerfish Heniochus diphreutes is a butterftyfish which feeds on zooplanl<ton above the reef. 



MAP7h 



55° 



North West Point 



9° 




10-20' 

Agelaga Islands 



4 8 12 km 



58° 



90 



180 



270 



<\ ; Agelaga Islands 
___; (MAURITIUS) 



360 



61° 

450 km 



Sava de 
Malha Bank 



N 

4- 



12° 



18° 



54'30' 54'3V 
lleTnanelm is'j 

\5] 



!•,-, lie Jromelin 
■" (REUNION) 



55-30' 
ST. DENIS 



Cargados 
C^jos 




Le Pott , 

Cap la Houssaye , 
V St. Leu 



55"45' 

St Suzanne 



• St Benoit 



Cap la Houssaye 
' Saint Joseph MP 

5 10 15 km 



Hell-Bourg 

St Rose* 
REUNION 



St Joseph 



) 



INDIAN OCEAN 



Nazareth 
Bank 



Cargados Carajos 
(IkfiURITIUS) 



tr 



iir 











63'20' 63-30' 


is-w 

i 


j-im 


i 


yT' Rodriguesl. v* 


^srx■ 


sjF^j 




5 10 15 km 


■ 


1 



18° 



21° 



^)i 



MAURmUS 



REUNION 
(FRANCE) 



INDIAN OCEAN 



55° 



58° 



RODRIGUES ; fi? 



lie Ronde (Round Island) NR 

lie Rale (Flat Island) NR ' v 

„.„. Coin de Mim -'* 

2<"» (Gunner's- , 

Quoin) NR T 

Poll Louis FiR f 
MAURITIUS " 'port LOUIS 



.Ileaux 
Serpents 

tlot Gabriel NR 



. Riviere du 

^ Rampart 

a - Pnitdm 



Poudre FiR 
Flacq FIR 



Trou d'Eau 
( Douce RR 



Black 
River FiR 



5 1015 km. 



GrandPort- 
Mahetx>uru' 
BR 






■ tlot 
Marianne 
NR 

Ileaux Aigrettes NR 



21° 



64° 



Western Indian Ocean 



reefs - blast fishing was a problem in the past and anchor 
damage continues. Large areas are also affected by crown- 
of-thorns starfish, which have undergone population 
explosions since the early 1980s. Tourism is a critical 
sector of the economy, and Mauritms had 487 000 arrivals 
in 1996. Coastal development to cater for this industry has 
added significant impacts, notably through pollution, but 
also through coral and shell collection for sale to tourists 
as well as direct diver impacts. 

By contrast the island of Rodrigues remains relatively 
undeveloped, with a small human population. Fisheries 
are an important industry and there is a well developed 
octopus fishery which exports to Mauritius. Tourism is a 
small, but growing, sector of the economy, with some 26 000 
visitors in 1997. Soil erosion and sedimentation are still a 
problem around this island, but overall the reefs, which are 
further offshore, remain in relatively healthy condition. 

Mauritius holds jurisdiction over a string of islands 
and reefs running north along the Mascarene Ridge - the 
northernmost island is Albatross, although there are reef 
communities on the Nazareth Bank some 240 kilometers 
further north (and still within Mauritian waters). The main 
group of islands and reefs in this area lie on a long reef 
structure on the Cargados Carajos Bank. These include St. 
Brandon (North Island), St. Raphael, He Perle, ile Fregate 
and lie Paul, plus a chain of over a dozen islands in the 
south. There is little published information about these 
reefs, however they are thought to include a broad reef flat 
and possibly the largest continuous algal ridge in the 
Indian Ocean. There are large and important seabird 
colonies on a number of islands. The islands are leased to 
a private fishing company which is based, along with a 
meteorological station, on St. Raphael. 

Also administered by Mauritius is the isolated 
Agelaga, a complex of two islands (North and South 
Island) and a substantial reef area. Again there is very 
little published literature describing this island. 



Reunion 

Reunion, a territory of France, only has a few fringing reef 
communities restricted to its leeward western shores, 
although corals are found growing directly on volcanic 
substrates in the southeast. Although not extensive, these 
reefs have been well studied. An estimated 1 000 species 
offish occur in the surrounding waters, including 250-300 
reef-associated species, and 149 recorded coral species. 
The 1998 coral bleaching had some impact, particularly 
where corals were already stressed by other factors, but 
recovery was good in almost all areas. Coral cover at a 
number of survey sites on the outer reef slopes and 
lagoons was at 30-50 percent after the bleaching. 

The majority of the people of Reunion live close 
to the coast and have had a major impact on it. There were 




some 641 registered commercial fishers in 1996, most of 
whom were operating in nearshore areas. Overexploitation 
of coastal fishes has been occurring for some time, and 
destructive fishing practices have been reported. 

Tourism is the main source of income on Reunion. 
There were 347 000 visitors in 1996 and, although diving 
and snorkelling are not the major attractions, over 50 
percent of hotel bookings are on the west coast, close to 
the coral reefs. The impacts of overfishing and coastal 
development together with sewage pollution are reported 



! 


^H 


' General Data 




' " 


Population Ithousandsl 




1 179 


GDP (million US$1 




3 5U 


Land area (km^l 




2 035 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 291 


Per capita fish consumption 


[kg/yearl 


21 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%1 




81 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




870 


Coral diversity 




161 /29i 


Mangrove area (km^l 




na 


No. of mangrove species 




2 


No. of seagrass species 




7 



In addition to the main Islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, Mauritius also administers a large area of remote reefs, 
notably the Cargados Carajos Bank ISTS033-75-92, 19891. 



208 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




to have severely degraded nearly 30 percent of the reef 
flats. Efforts are underway to reduce impacts on the coral 
reefs, including tighter controls on land-based sources 
of pollution. 

Most of the coral reefs are formally protected within 
a marine park, which had 1 1 park rangers in 2000. The 
area incorporates a number of fishing reserves, while 
consideration is being given to the designation of nature 
reserves or other additional forms of protection within the 
park boundaries. 



Outlying French territories 

France administers a number of islands (Maps 7e and h) 
around Madagascar (administered alongside Madagascar 
prior to its independence). Sometimes known by the col- 
lective title of lies Eparses (scattered islands), these islands 
are all administered from Reunion, although their owner- 
ship remains disputed with Madagascar. Most of these are 
located in the Mozambique Channel. Recent information 
on the status of any of these reefs is unavailable. 

On the same latitude as Grande Comore, but close to 




Reunion 






General Data 








Population (thousands) 






721 


GDP (million US$1 






6 U8 


Land area Ikm^l 






2 576 


Marine area (thousand km^j 






318 


Per capita fish consumption 


( kg/yea r| 


10 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk (%| 






100 


Recorded coral diseases 






Q 


Biodiversity 








Reef area* (kmz) 






<50 


Coral diversity 






13^/295 


Mangrove area (km^l 






na 


No. of mangrove species 






na 


No. of seagrass species 






na 


• The lies Eparses have a further 243 km^ of 


reef. 


with a land area 


of 23 km2 in a marine area of 640 000 km' 






. . _ _._._,. 


._. 







Above: Corals do not dominate in all areas, but reef fish, such as these humpback unicornfish Naso brachycentron are 
often still found around rocl<y reefs. Below: Young hawksbilt turtles Eretmochelys imbncata. There are important turtle 
nesting beaches on a number of the isolated Indian Ocean islands. 



Western Indian Ocean 



209 



the northern tip of Madagascar, lie the lies Glorieuses, a 
group of four small raised coral islands on a 17 kilometer 
long coralline platform. At the narrowest point of the 
Mozambique Channel lies Juan de Nova, another coralline 
island which was mined for phosphates and had a resident 
population until 1972. The island lies on a coralline platform 
almost 12 kilometers in length. Towards the southern end of 
the Mozambique Channel there arc two more islands and 
reef systems. Bassas da India is a nearly perfect circular 
atoll about 12 kilometers across with little or no emergent 
land at high tide. Europa is another atoll structure, about 
14 kilometers across, but with a significant land area and a 
shallow, mangrove-fringed lagoon. This is also one of the 
most important sites in the world for the breeding of green 
turtles, with 8 000-15 000 breeding females. Tromelm lies 



much closer to Reunion, east of northern Madagascar, and 
its ownership is disputed by Mauritius. This is a raised 
coralline islet surrounded by fringing reefs on all sides, 
with a reef flat of about 150 meters width. Some 15 
scleractinian coral genera have been described from this 
island, and there are also 1 500-2 000 breeding green turtles. 
The island has an airstrip and a meteorological station, 
although there are no permanent inhabitants. 

Although uninhabited, the islands have military 
barracks and all except Bassas da India also have 
meteorological stations. These islands have all been 
declared nature reserves and, although there is little active 
management, they are perhaps better protected by their 
remote locations and the presence of military personnel 
on the islands. 



Protected areas wi 


th coral reefs 










K Site name 


Designation 


^^^^hreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size (km'l 


Year 


Reunion 


Cap la Houssaye - St. Joseph 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


na 


1998 


L'Etang 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1992 


Pointe de Bretagne - 
Pointe de I'Etang Sale 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1978 


Ravine Trois Bassins - 
Pointe de Bretagne 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1978 


St. Leu 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1992 


Saline rHermitage llagoonl 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1992 


Saline ['Hermitage Ireefl 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1992 


St. Pierre 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


VI 


na 


1992 


Ties Eparses 


Juan de Nova 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


na 


1975 


Ties Glorieuses 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


na 


1975 


Tie Tromelin 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


na 


1975 


Tlot de Bassas da India 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


na 


1975 


Tlot d'Europa 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


na 


1975 


Mauritius 


Balaclava 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


na 


1997 


Black River 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


9.00 


1983 


Flacq 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


6.00 


1983 


Grand Port - Mahebourg 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


22.00 


1983 


Port Louis 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


5.00 


1983 


Riviere du Rampart - Poudre d'Or 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


35.00 


1983 


Trou d'Eau Douce 


Fishing Reserve 


FiR 


IV 


7.00 


1983 


HIIBI linill nHIIMHHHI 


nm. • 




______ 




— i— lUiJ,.^ 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Selected bibliography 



REGIONAL SOURCES 

Aleem AA (19841. Distribution and ecology of seagrass 
communities in the Western Indian Ocean. Deep Sea Res 
Part A 31: 919-922. 

Gabrie C (20001. State of Coral Reefs in French Overseas 
Departements and Terntones. Ministry of Spatial Planning 
and Environment and State Secretariat for Overseas Affairs. 
Pans, France. 

Linden 0, Lundin CG (edsl (19971. Ttie Journey from Arusha to 
Seychelles: Successes and Failures of Integrated Coastal 
Zone (Management in Eastern Africa and Island States. The 
World Bank. Washington DC, USA, 

Linden 0, Sporrong N (edsl (19991. Coral Reef Degradation in 
the Indian Ocean: Status Reports and Project Presentations. 
CORDIO Programme, Stockholm, Sv^eden. 

McClanahan T, Sheppard C, Cbura D (edsl (20001. Coral Reefs 
of the Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford 
University Press, Oxford, UK and NevK York, USA. 

Richmond MO (edl (19971. A Guide to the Seashores of Eastern 
Africa and the Western Indian Ocean Islands. SIDA/ 
Department for Research Cooperation, SAREC, Stockholm. 
Sweden. 

Scheer G (1984). The distribution of reef corals in the Indian 
Ocean with a historical review of its investigation. Deep Sea 
Res Part A 31: 885-900. 

Sheppard ORG (19871. Coral species of the Indian Ocean and 
adjacent seas: a synonymized compilation and some 
regional distributional patterns. Atoll Res Bull 307: 1 -32. 

Souter D, Obura D, Linden (2000). Coral Reef Degradation in 
the Indian Ocean. Status Report. 2000. CORDIO-SIDA/SAREC 
(Marine Science Programme, Stockholm, Sweden. 

Stoddart DR, Yonge M (edsl 119711. Symposia of the Zoological 
Society of London, 28: Regional Variation in Indian Ocean 
Coral Reefs. Academic Press, London. UK 

Wilkinson C, Linden 0, Cesar H, Hodgson G, Rubens J, Strong 
AE (19991. Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of 1998 
coral mortality in the Indian Ocean and ENSO impact and a 
warning of future change. Ambio 28: 188-196. 

KENYA AND 
SOUTHERN SOMALIA 

van derElst R, Salm RV(1999). Overview of the Biodiversity of 
the Somali Coastal and fvlarine Environment. Report 
prepared for lUCN Eastern Africa Programme and Somali 
Natural Resources Management Programme. 

McClanahan TR, Obura D (19941. Status of Kenyan coral reefs. 
In: Ginsburg RN [edl. Proceedings of the Colloquium on 
Global Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards and History, 
1993. Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 
University of Miami, USA. 

Muthiga NA, Bigot L, Nilsson A (20001. Regional report: coral 
reef programs of Eastern Africa and the Western Indian 
Ocean. Proc Int Tropical fvlarine Ecosystems fvfanagement 
Symp: 114-143. 

Obura DO, Muthiga NA, Watson M (20001. Kenya. In: 
McClanahan T, Sheppard C. Obura D (edsl. Coral Reefs of the 
Western Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. 
Oxford University Press, Oxford. UK and New York. USA. 

Sommer C, Schneider W, Poutiers J-M (19961. FAO Species 
Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Living fvlarine 



Resources of Somalia. Food and Agriculture Organization of 
the United Nations, Rome, Italy. 
UNEP (19981. Eastern Africa Atlas of Coastal Resources, h 
Kenya. UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya. 

TANZANIA 

Darwall WRT, Guard M (20001. Southern Tanzania. In: 

McClanahan TR. Obura DO. Sheppard CRC ledsl. Coral Reefs 

of the Western Indian Ocean: Ecology and Conservation. 

Oxford University Press, New York, USA. 
Dulvy NK, Stanwell-Smith D, Darwall WRT, Horrill CJ (19951. 

Coral Mining at Mafia Island, Tanzania: a management 

dilemma. Ambio2i: 358-365. 
Guard M, Mmochi AJ, Horrill C (20001. Tanzania. In: Sheppard 

C [edl. Seas at the Millennium: An Environmental Evaluation. 

Elsevier Science Ltd, Oxford, UK. 
Horrill JC, Darwall WRT, Ngoile M (19961. Development of a 

marine protected area: Mafia Island, Tanzania. Ambio 25: 

50-57. 
Horrill JC, Kamukuru AT, Mgaya YD, Risk M (20001. Northern 

Tanzania and its major islands. In: McClanahan T. Sheppard 

C. Obura D [edsl. Coral Reefs of the Western Indian Ocean: 

Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, 

Oxford, UK and New York, USA, 
Linden 0, Lundin CG (edsl (19951. Integrated Coastal Zone 

fvlanagement in Tanzania. The World Bank and SIDA, 

Washington DC. USA. 

MOZAMBIQUE AND SOUTH AFRICA 

Gell F, Rodrigues MJ (19981. The reefs of Mozambique. Reef 

Encounter 2A: 24-27. 
Turpie JK, Beckley LE, Katua SM (19991. Biogeography and the 

selection of priority areas for conservation of South African 

coastal fishes. Biol Cons 92: 59-72. 

MADGASCAR 

Gabrie C, Vasseur P, Randriamiarana H, Maharavo J, Mara E 
(20001. The coral reefs of Madagascar In: McClanahan T, 
Sheppard C, Obura D [edsl. Coral Reefs of the Western 
Indian Ocean: Their Ecology and Conservation. Oxford 
University Press, Oxford, UK and New York, USA. 

Pichon M (1972). The coral reefs of Madagascar In: Richard- 
Vindard G. Battistmi R (edsl. Biogeography and Ecology of 
fvladagascar. Dr W Junk Publishers, The Hague. 

Rajonson J (19951. Mangroves and coral reefs of Madagascar 
In: Linden [edl. Proceedings of the Workshop and Policy 
Conference on Integrated Coastal Zone fvlanagement in 
Eastern Africa including the Island States. Swedish Agency 
for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries, 
Sweden, 

COMOROS, MAYOTTE 
AND OUTLYING ISLANDS 

Dossar MBA (19971. Integrated coastal zone management in 
Comoros. In: Linden 0. Lundin CG [edsl. The Journey from 
Arusha to Seychelles: Successes and Failures of Integrated 
Coastal Zone fvlanagement in Eastern Africa and island 
states. The World Bank. Washington DC, USA. 

Nairn 0, Quod J-P (19991. The coral reefs of French Indian 
Ocean Territories (FIOTI. Reef Encounter 26: 33-36. 



Western Indian Ocean 



SEYCHELLES 

Jennings S. Marshall SS, Polunin NVC 119961. Seychelles' 

marine protected areas: comparative structure and status of 

reef fish communities. Biol Cons 75: 201 -209. 
van der Land J 119941. The 'Oceanic Reefs' expedition to the 

Seychelles 11992-19931. Zool Verb Leiden 297: 5-36. 
Lundin CG, Linden leds) (19951. Integrated Coastal Zone 

Management in the Seychelles. The World Bank and 5AREC- 

SIDA, Washington DC. USA. 
Smith JLB, Smith l«IM 11969). Fishes of the Seychelles. 2nd 

edn. JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology. Grahamstown. South 

Africa. 
Vine PJ (19891. Seychelles. Immel Publishing. London, UK. 

MAURITIUS AND REUNION 

Fagoonee I (1990). Coastal marine ecosystems of Mauritius. 

Hydrobiologia 208: 55-62. 
Linden 0. Lundin CG (edsl (1997). The Journey from Arusha to 

Seychelles: Successes and Failures of Integrated Coastal 

Zone /Management in Eastern Africa and Island States. The 

World Bank. Washington DC, USA. 
Naim 0, Quod J-P (1999). The coral reefs of French Indian 

Ocean Territories IFIOTI. Reef Encounter 2b: 33-36. 

Map sources 
Map 7a 

For Kenya, coral reef data have been combined from 
Petroconsultants SA (19901* and UNEP/IUCN 11988b)*. The 
latter data were only available at a scale of 1:2 500 000. 
Mangrove data were generously supplied by UNEP and were 
derived from a more detailed (1:25 000) coverage originally 
prepared for the Kenya Wildlife Service by W Ferguson in 1 995. 
For Somalia coral reef data are taken from UNEP/IUCN [1988b) 
at a scale of 1:5 000 000. 

Map 7b 

Detailed coral reef and mangrove data were generously 
supplied by UNEP. These data were prepared by Christopher A 
Muhando at the Institute for Marine Sciences in Zanzibar [with 
support from the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation 
ISAREO) at a scale of 1:250 000. 

Map 7c 

Coral reef and mangrove data were generously supplied by 
UNEP. Coral reef data were originally prepared from MND 
[19861. Mangrove data are based on 1:1 000 000 maps created 
under project: FAQ/PNUD MOZ/86/003 C MQZ/92/013. For 
South Africa, coral reefs have been taken from UNEP/IUCN 
[1988bl* at an approximate scale of 1:2 000 000. 
MND (1986). 1:200 000 map series. Maps: 'i2621-M, 42622-M. 

'12623-M, A2624-M, A2625-M, 42626-M. 42627-M, 42628-M. 

42629-M, 42630-M and /12630-M. Ministry of National 

Defense of the Republic of Mozambique. 1st edn 15-X-1986. 

Division of Navigation and oceanography. Ministry of 

Defense of Russia. 

Map7d 

Coral reef data have been combined from Petroconsultants SA 
(1990)* and UNEP/IUCN 11988b)*. The latter data were only 
available at a scale of 1 :2 500 000. 

Map7e 

For the Comoros, coral reef data were generously supplied by 
UNEP and are derived from IGN (1995a, 1995b, 1995c]. For 
Mayotte, coral reef data are taken from Hydrographic Office 



[1978). For the outlying reefs and islands, reef data are from 

Petroconsultants SA (19901*. 

Hydrographic Office (1978). Comoros Islands. British Admiralty 

Chart No. 563. 1:300 000. Taunton, UK. 
IGN (1995a). Archipel des Comores. Anjouan. 3615. 1:50 000. 

Institut Geographique National. Pans, France. 
IGN (1995b). Archipel des Comores. Grande Comore. 3615. 

1 :50 000. Institut Geographique National, Pans, France. 
IGN (1995c). Archipel des Comores. Moheli. 3615. 1:50 000. 

Institut Geographique National. Pans. France. 

Map7f 

Coral reef and island boundaries are based on Hydrographic 
Office [19801. 

Hydrographic Office (1980). Mahe. Praslin and adjacent islands. 
British Admiralty Chart No. T>2. 1:25 000. Taunton, UK. 

Map7g 

Coral reef and island boundaries have been derived from 

several sources, outlined below. 

DOS (1978a). Aldabra Island East 1:25 000 Senes Y852 (DOS 

304PI 3rd edn. Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
DOS (1978b). Aldabra Island West 1:25 000 Senes Y852 (DOS 

301PI 3rd edn. Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
DOS (1978c). Farqubar Group 1:25 000 Series 304P 1st edn. 

Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
DOS (1979). Cosmoledo Group 1:25 000 Series 304P 1st edn. 

Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
DOS (1993a). Providence Group INorthI 1:25 000 Series 30iP 

3rd edn. Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
DOS (1993b). Providence Group ISouthI 1:25 000 Series 301P 

3rd edn. Department of Overseas Surveys, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1978). Anchorages in the Seychelles 

group and outlying islands. British Admiralty Chart No. 724. 

Various scales. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19941. Islands North of Madagascar 

British Admiralty Chart No. 718. Various scales. Taunton, 

UK. 

Map7h 

For the main island of Mauritius coastline, reefs and bathymetry 
were obtained from Hydrographic Office [1984). For Rodrigues 
coastline, reefs and bathymetry were obtained from 
Hydrographic Office (1914). These data were largely derived 
from a survey undertaken in 1 874, however comparisons with a 
1983 Department of Overseas Surveys map showed minimal 
differences in general coastal morphology and reef area. For the 
Cargados Carajos Shoals and Agalega, islands and reefs were 
obtained from Hydrographic Office (19691. These are largely 
based on a survey undertaken in 1846 for Cargados Carajos, and 
a sketch survey of 1 934 for Agalega, but with additions. 

For Reunion, coastline and reefs are based on UNEP/IUCN 
[1988b)*, which was onginally prepared at a scale of 1:300 000. 
For Tromelin, coastline and reefs were obtained from Hydro- 
graphic Office [1969). For this island these are largely based on 
French Government survey of 1959. with additions to 1968. 
Hydrographic Office (1914). Rodriguez Island. British Admiralty 

Chart No. 715. February 1914. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1969). Cargados Carajos Shoals. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 1818. January 1969 (last major 

corrections 1941). Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1984). Mauritius. British Admiralty Chart 

No. 711. 1:125 000. October 1984. Taunton, UK. 

* See Technical notes, page 401 



212 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 8 

Central Indian Ocean 




The southern continental coastline of Central 
Asia, stretching fronn Pakistan to Bangladesh, 
has remarkably little reef development. There 
are no true reefs recorded off Pakistan, while 
most of the western and eastern coastlines of 
India are dominated by high levels of sediments, 
preventing reef formation. In the far southeast of India 
there is some reef development and there are a tew 
important reefs around Sri Lanka. In stark contrast to 
these continental shores, the oceanic waters to the 
south, and around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands 
in the east, abound with reefs. The dominant formation 
is a single arc stretching from the Indian islands of 
Lakshadweep. along the chain of the Maldives, to the 
Chagos Archipelago. This follows the Chagos-Laccadive 
Ridge, a volcanic structure left by the northward move- 
ment of the oceanic crust over the Reunion hotspot. 
These reefs include the worlds largest atoll structures. 
Biogeographically this is a region of transition. 
India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands lie on the edges 
of insular Southeast Asia, the region of highest reef 
biodiversity in the world. The fauna on these reefs 
includes many species restricted to Southeast Asia, or 
which have the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the 
westernmost edge of their range. To the west, the reefs 
from India south to the Chagos Archipelago include 
certain elements of more typically Indian Ocean species, 
as well as small numbers of species which characterize 



the Western Indian Ocean. Maps showing patterns of 
species diversity on coral reefs (see Chapter 1) clearly 
show how diversity is restricted to a narrow path of 
maximum diversity - the "Chagos Stricture" - centered 
on the southern Maldives and Chagos Archipelago. 

Similar levels of diversity again become widespread 
further west along the coast of East Africa and the 
Arabian Peninsula. It is considered, from these patterns 
and others, that the Central Indian Ocean reefs could 
provide a critical link between the eastern and western 
margins of the Indian Ocean. 

Human pressures on the reefs in the region vary 
considerably The reefs of the Chagos and parts of 
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are among the least 
impacted coral reefs worldwide. Studies on water 
quality in the Chagos Archipelago suggest that these 
may be some of the least polluted waters in the world, 
and that even persistent organic pollutants from remote 
sources may be lower here than elsewhere. By contrast 
the coral reefs in Sri Lanka and parts of mainland India 
are under enormous pressure. Although historical data 
on the distribution of reefs is scarce, it seems highly 
probable that some reefs have already been lost from 
these areas. The importance of reefs to the social and 
economic well-being of the regions people is widely 
recognized, and there are a number of efforts at the 
national level to restrict damaging activities and set 
aside areas for conservation. 



Left: A red-footed booby Sula sula and chick on one of the important seabird nesting islands in the Chagos Archipelago. 
Right: A school of bengal snapper Lutjanus kasmira swims over bleached corals during the 1998 coral bleaching event. 



'5 70° 



MAPS 



.4 



Jrl PAKISTAN 




Fan 



% 



Arabian 










„ Basin 




; 


u 




ARAB! 


A N 




^< 




SEA 






; ' 












* 






"S 


f . 


/ 




MALDIVES 




Ceylon Plain 



INDIAN 
OCEAN / 



Nikitin ' 
Seamnuttt 






Mid-Indian 
Basin 



BRITISH INDIAN 
, OCEAN TERRITORY 
i (UK) 



^ 



7 

/ Osb. 







300 



600 



^^^k^^^ 



;70° V 



80' 



900 kin^ ^/ 



Osbom 
/ Plateau 



Cocos 
Basin 



*^tL 



MAP 8a 




Central Indian Ocean 215 



India, Pakistan and 
Bangladesh 



MAP 8a 




InCliS. despite its vast size, has only a few coral 
reefs off its mainland coast, mostly concentrated 
around the Gulf of Kutch to the northwest, and the Gulf 
of Mannar near Sri Lanka in the southeast. Reefs are 
highly developed in the more remote archipelagos of 
Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The 
distribution and status of any reefs outside these areas 
remains largely unknown. 

The reefs and coral communities of the Gulf of Kutch 
are predominantly patchy structures built up on sandstone 
or other banks or around the small islands on the southern 
side of the gulf They have adapted to extreme environ- 
mental conditions of high temperatures, fluctuating and high 
salinities, large tidal ranges and heavy sediment loads. As 
a result diversity is low. with only 37 hard coral species 
recorded and no branching species. Coral sand mining was 
a significant industry in the Gulf of Kutch in the early 1980s 
and may have added to already difficult conditions. Chronic 
oil pollution in the area may also be affecting the reefs. 
There is an oil pipeline right through the national park, 
parts of which were impacted by a major oil spill in 1999. 
Industrial pollution is a further concern, and the clearance of 
mangroves may have increased levels of sedimentation. The 
impacts of the 1998 coral bleaching were quite varied within 



this area, but on average were much lower than on reefs to 
the south, with about 30 percent mortality. Further down the 
coast there are some small, low diversity communities, but 
conditions here are quite harsh, with low salinities during 
the monsoon and high turbidity and wave action. Corals are 
also reported from the Gaveshani Bank some 100 kilometers 
off the coast from Mangalore. 

The best developed mainland reef structures are located 
in the southeast, with fringing reefs occurring off Palk 
Bay, and on the coasts and islands of the Gulf of Mannar, 
including Adams Bridge, a string of reefs stretching across 
towards Sri Lanka. Diversity is high in this area, with 117 
hard coral species recorded as well as a number of eco- 
systems including seagrass and mangrove communities. 
Unfortunately reefs in this region were recorded as rapidly 
deteriorating as early as 1971. associated with high levels 
of siltation and the removal of coral rock combined with 
cyclone impacts. Coral rubble mining still occurs in the 
region, and mining of sand from the beaches is ongoing. 
Fisheries are thought to have a considerable impact, with 
some 47 fishing villages comprising a total of 50 000 
people. Apart from overexploitation of general reef fish 
stocks there are concerns about other fisheries including 
sea fans, sea cucumbers, spiny lobsters, seahorses and 



Pamban Island In the Gulf of Mannar. This region has some of the most important coral reefs off the mainland coast of 
India IST5033-76-60. 19891 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 





shells for mother-of-pearl. About 1 000 marine turtles are 
taken annually and dugongs are also hunted. The 1998 coral 
bleaching event appears to have severely impacted the reefs 
in the Gulf of Mannar, with 60-80 percent mortality. 

A large proportion of the reefs in both the Gulf of 
Kutch and the Gulf of Mannar now fall within legally 
gazetted protected areas, but these suffer from both weak 
management and virtually no monitoring. There are con- 
cerns that the Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park will be 
rescinded to allow for industrial development. 

The Lakshadweep Islands (Laccadives) are located 
about 300 kilometers west of the southernmost tip of 
India. They are true atolls and related reef structures, built 
up over a volcanic base, marking the northernmost and 



oldest trace of the Reunion hot spot which went on to form 
the entire Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. There are 12 coral 
atolls with about 36 islands (with a total land area 
of 32 square kilometers), about a third of which are 
inhabited, and also four major submerged reefs and five 
major submerged banks. Typically the atolls have shallow 
lagoons, averaging a depth of 3-5 meters, with islands 
mostly occurring on the eastern rims. The outer slopes of 
the atolls descend steeply and have prolific coral growth. 
The local population on these islands numbers some 
51 000, and fishing is an important activity, although 
largely focussed on offshore (non-reef) stocks. There has 
been sand mining in some lagoons which is likely to 
have impacted areas of reef. Tourism is a small but 





India 


Pakistan 


Bangladeshi 


General Data 








Population Ithousandsl 


1 0U004 


Ul 55A 


129 19-1 


GDP (million US$1 


^18 720 


62 915 


31 838 


Land area (km'l 


3 089 857 


877 66/i 


138/i70 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


2 297 


233 


80 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/yearl 


5 


2 


10 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk (%| 


61 


na 


100 


Recorded coral diseases 


3 








Biodiversity 








Reef area (km^l 


5 790 


<50 


<50 


Coral diversity 


208 / 345 


na / na 


na / na 


Mangrove area (km^l 


6 700 


1 683 


5 767 


No. of mangrove species 


28 


A 


21 


No. of seagrass species 


15 


na 


na 



Left; A shallow scene of branching Acropora. Right: Dense mangrove forests dominate the Sundarbans in the northern 
Bay of Bengal. 



Central Indian Ocean 



217 



Protected 


areas 


wi 


th 


coral reefs 










1 Site name 








Designation Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size lkm!| 


ITear 


India 


Great Nicobar 








Biosphere Reserve (National! 


BR 


VI 


885.00 


989 


Gulfof Kutch 








Marine National Parl< 


NP 


II 


162.89 


980 


GulfofKutch / 








Marine Sanctuary 


S 


IV 


293.03 


980 


Gulf of Mannar 








Marine National Parl< 


NP 


II 


6.23 


986 


Gulf of Mannar 








Biosphere Reserve INationall 


BR 


VI 


10 500.00 


989 


Wandur IMahatma Gandhi) 






Marine National Park 


NP 


II 


281.50 


983 





growing activity: access requires a permit and tourist 
numbers are currently below 1 000 per year. The 1998 El 
Niiio warming event caused dramatic coral bleaching, 
with significant subsequent coral mortality of 43-87 
percent. This is probably slightly lower than that experi- 
enced further south in the Chagos-Laccadive chain. 

The Andaman and Nicobar group consists of some 
500 islands. Many are the high peaks of a submerged 
mountain range, a continuation of the Arakan mountains of 
Myanmar. The islands fall into two clear districts: Andaman 
to the north and Nicobar to the south, separated by the 160 
kilometer wide Ten Degree Channel. There are fringing 
reefs along the coastlines of many of these islands. Their 
location is far closer to Indonesia and the Southeast Asian 
center of biodiversity than to India, and species diversity is 
higher than at any other reefs in India, with some 219 coral 
species recorded and around 571 species of reef fish. 
Although only 38 islands are inhabited, the population has 
been rising rapidly, largely through immigration, especially 
in the Andaman District. Close to these areas there may 
now be some human impacts on the reef communities, 
while sedimentation is expected to increase as further areas 
are opened up to logging. At the present time, however, 
many of the reefs are still largely free from human impacts, 
and pollution generally remains low. Despite access 
difficulties, tourist numbers are growing, and dive oper- 
ators are now taking divers to the islands on "live-aboards", 
usually departing from Thailand. The reefs were apparently 
very badly affected by the 1997-98 bleaching, with up to 80 
percent mortality reported in some areas. Recent surveys 
have nonetheless shown an average of 56 percent live coral 
cover, suggesting a varied impact among the reefs. A 
detailed network of protected areas has been established in 
the islands. The majority of these are terrestrial but extend 
to the coastline, offering at least partial protection to 
adjacent reef communities. 



Pakistan 

While there is little published information describing the 
sub-littoral marine communities of Pakistan, this country 
is not believed to have any true coral reefs. However, coral 
communities on hard substrates are suspected, particularly 
in the west. Any such communities may be very similar to 
those described for southern Arabia. 



Bangladesh 



In Bangladesh, as with much of the Indian coast of the 
Bay of Bengal, the high levels of turbidity and freshwater 
influx prevent reef development. There is one .small area 
of reef development off the coast of St. Martins Island 
or Jinjiradwip, where some 66 hard coral species from 22 
genera have been recorded. These small reef areas are 
considered seriously threatened by sedimentation, cyclone 
damage, overfishing and anchor damage. Despite the small 
area of corals, branching Acropora are harvested for the 
curio trade and are now reported to be rare. 




Clear oceanic waters with liigli coral cover are found around Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 
although both areas were affected by the 1998 coral bleaching and mortality. 



MAP 8b 



9°30' 



8°45' 



79°30' 



INDIA 



80° 15' 



Point Pedro 



aroo' 



Palk Strait 



KaraitivuJ. 
Eulaitivu I.. , ' 
Andalaitivu I. j :^ ■ , 
Nainatiyu I. J (- «» 



.Jaffna 



<S> 



Gulf 

of 
Mannar 



Delft I. 



Palitivu I. 
Punkudutivu I. 



GT 



Mannar I. 



Adams Bridge 

Vankalai Reef 

Arippu Reef 



Ari/i, 



Ojfi • Silavattural '' 



Silavatturai Reef 



Bar Reef 
Marine S 



Wilpattu 
Block 1 NP 



8°00' 



Kalpitiya • , ' U^ 

•Putlatan 



«^' 



Chilaw ' 



7"15' 



Negomlio^ 



COLOMBO S 



Xe/ani GunS" 



ing" 



INDIAN OCEAN 



6°30' 



N 

+ 



0»' 



^ Beruwela 
^ Bentota 



D^ Hikkaduwa 
Hikkaduwa ^ ■ 
Marine NR n .Galle 



INDIAN OCEAN 



Chundikulam S 



Kokilai 
Lagoon S fi 



' Vavuniya 



Trincomalee Naval 
Headworks S 



Trincomalee 
'..Great Sober Island S 



■>•.* 



\Senjwila 
' -Altai S 



Aun/ Oy^ 






8°00' 



SRI LANKA 

, Kandy 



G^' 



.QV» 



7°15' 



Badulla 



Yata East Kudumbigala S 
Block 1 NP 



Rutiuna ' ^ • -J- 
Block 1 NP vtil^ ; f^ 



'yali^- 
SNafR 



6°30' 



Bundata NP . \ 




Little Basses Reef 



^ 



5°45' 
10 20 30 40 50 Km 



Tangalla - Kalametiya 'j'^' 

.Weligama Katepuwa S Basses Reef 

Polhena 
Reef 



5°45' 



L 



79°30' 



80° 15' 



81°00' 



81°45' 



Central Indian Ocean 219 



Sri Lanka 



MAP 8b 




Sri Lanka is a large continental island off the southeast 
coast of the Indian sub-continent. About 30 percent 
of the land area is low-lying (less than 30 meters 
elevation). Offshore the continental shelf is particularly 
narrow to the south and east, widening to the northwest to 
join that of India. Much of the coastline is dominated by 
high wave energy, while the southern and western coasts are 
further affected by considerable turbidity associated with 
numerous river mouths. Largely as a consequence of this, 
coral reefs are not abundant in the coastal waters. 

It has been estimated that fringing reefs of varying 
quality occur along about 2 percent of the coastline, mostly 
along northwestern and eastern coasts. This statistic 
includes many coral communities which have developed 
on non-coral, or fossil reef platforms. Most reefs could be 
described as fringing-type formations (although not all are 
mature structures with clear zonation patterns). Additionally 
there are some barrier reefs on the northwest coast at 
Vankalai, Silavatturai and Bar Reef, while in the southeast 
corals have colonized offshore ridges at Great Basses and 
Little Basses. The reefs around the Jaffna Peninsula in the 
north are mainly fringing reefs, but not very well developed. 
The greatest reef development is in the northwest between 
Mannar Island and the Kalpitiya Peninsula. 



Marine diversity is not as high as among the reefs of 
the oceanic areas of the Indian Ocean. Coral cover is 
relatively low, although it reaches more than 50 percent 
(live hermatypic coral cover) on Bar Reef and reefs in 
the northwest During the 1998 El Nirio warming event 
some of the reefs underwent significant bleaching, notably 
in the south, with bleaching reported to depths of 42 
meters near Batticaloa on the east coast. Shallow corals 
down to 3-5 meters were reported to have died in almost 
all areas except Trincomalee in the northeast, where 
bleaching did not take place. Significant reductions in 
butterflyfish and other coral-dependent species have 
already been recorded. 

Nearshore fisheries are a critical activity in Sri 
Lanka, providing food, employment and income. Marine 
fisheries account for 90-95 percent of the total landings, 
and nearshore fisheries some 70-80 percent of these. 
Although coral reefs are not widespread, one estimate has 
suggested that up to 50 percent of the nearshore capture 
fishery depends directly on coral reef ecosystems. One 
other important economic activity is the collection of live 
fish for the aquarium trade. This has grown considerably 
over the past two decades: some 250 species of reef fish 
and 50 invertebrates have been exported, in an industry 



Bennett's butterflyfish is widespread across ttie Indo-Pacific. Feeding primarily on coral polyps, it is one of tfie species 
which has been impacted by mass mortality of corals. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas 


wi 


th coral ree 


fs 










( 

Site name 




Designation 




Abbreviation 


lUCN c.t. 


Size lkmz| 


Year 


Sri Lanka 


Bar Reef Marine 




Sanctuary 




S 


IV 


306.70 


1992 


Hil<l<aduwa Marine 




Nature Reserve 




NR 


IV 


1.01 


1979 





valued at approximately USS3 million in 1998. Other 
species harvested for export in 1998 included 260 tons of 
sea cucumbers, and over 800 tons of molluscs. 

Tourism plays an important part in the national 
economy, with coastal tourism estimated to contribute 
around US$200 million per year Although reef-related 
tourism is only a very small fraction of this, it is important 
in the southwest, particularly around Hikkaduwa where 
the reef received over 10 000 visitors in 1994. 

The threats to Sri Lanka's reefs are numerous and it is 
likely that the total reef area of this nation may once have 
been much larger. Many of the remaining reefs are highly 
degraded. Principle causes of degradation include very 
high levels of sedimentation arising from erosion of de- 
forested land, poor agricultural practices and construction. 
Historically, coral mining has led to almost complete 
destruction of many reefs along the south and southwest 
coast and may have had similar impacts in the east. 



Although officially banned in 1983, mining in the sea 
continues in many areas where it is a traditional activity 
providing relatively high income employment. Coral rock, 
taken from living and fossil reefs, is used as a raw material 
in lime production. In addition to direct destruction, coral 
mining leads to increased erosion and high turbidity 
over wide areas of the coastline. Further threats to the 
remaining reefs arise from destructive fishing practices, 
including dynamite fishing, uncontrolled exploitation of 
resources, and pollution arising from sewage and indust- 
rial effluent. The combination of threats and current state 
of degradation of many reefs may slow recovery from 
the 1998 bleaching event. Although some legislation is in 
place controlling such activities as coral mining, enforce- 
ment is clearly a problem. Only two protected areas (Bar 
Reef and Hikkaduwa) are specifically designated for 
the protection of coral reefs, and management is either 
extremely weak or absent. 




Sri Lanka 


nH| 


General Data 






Population (thousands! 




19 239 


GDP (million US$) 




10 738 


Land area (km^l 




66 580 


Marine area (thousand km^J 




531 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year| 


21 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk [%1 




86 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




680 


Coral diversity 




100/318 


Mangrove area (km^j 




89 


No. of mangrove species 




23 


No. of seagrass species 

-vfl 


mm^^ 


7 



The highly camouflaged devil scorpionfish Scorpaenopsis diabolis can be almost invisible when resting on the bottom of 
the reef. Its dorsal spines are venemous. 



Central Indian Ocean 221 



Maldives 



MAPS 8c and d 




The Maldives are a spectacular chain of 22 coral 
atolls which run for some 800 kilometers north to 
south in the Central Indian Ocean. These include 
the largest surface-level atolls in the world: the area of 
Thiladhunmathi and Miladhunmadulu Atolls (with two 
names, but a single atoll structure) is some 3 680 square 
kilometers, while Huvadhoo Atoll in the south is over 
3 200 square kilometers. (The Great Chagos Bank to the 
south occupies an even greater area, but is now largely 
submerged.) 

There are an estimated 1 200 coralline islands, 199 of 
which are inhabited (although only three of these are 
larger than 3 square kilometers). The maximum altitude 
is only 5 meters above sea level. These islands and reefs 
make up the central and largest sector of the Chagos- 
Laccadive Ridge, which marks a volcanic trace left by the 
Reunion hotspot. The atolls rise steeply from the base of 
the ridge, and are aligned in two parallel chains. The atoll 
rims are not unusual, with a wide reef flat, typically 
bearing a number of islands and sand cays broken by deep 
channels. The atoll lagoons range from IS to 55 meters in 
depth, and within these are a number of patch reefs and 
knolls, but also some reef structures known as faros which 
are common in the Maldives, but very unusual elsewhere. 



These have the appearance of miniature atolls, with a 
central lagoon, and often bear small islands on their rim. 

In terms of their biodiversity, the Maldivian atolls 
form part of the "Chagos stricture" and so are an 
important link or stepping stone between the reefs of the 
Eastern Indian Ocean and those of the East African region. 
The fauna therefore combines elements of both eastern 
and western assemblages. Diversity is very high. At least 
209 scleractinian corals are recorded, with maximum 
diversity reported in the south. Over I 000 epipelagic and 
shore fishes are recorded from the Maldives, a large 
proportion of which are reef associated. Coral cover on 
the atoll edges and on the faros and lagoon knolls was 
prolific, over 60 percent to depths of at least 20 meters. 
During the 1998 El Nirio warming event some of the 
worst coral bleaching was recorded in this region and up 
to 90 percent of hermatypic corals were reported to have 
died in some areas. Impacts of this mortality are the 
subject of continuing study - while some growth of new 
corals is now occurring, the impacts on the wider ecology 
may continue for decades, even assuming no further 
extreme events. 

More than any other nation outside the Western 
Pacific, the Maldives is dependant on coral reefs for the 



The atolls of Felidu, Wataru and Malaku typify the many atolls of this coral reef nation. The lagoons include numerous 
patch reefs and circular "faros" ISTS081-ESC-5863. 19971. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




maintenance of land area, food, export earnings and foreign 
currency from tourism revenues. The Maldivian people 
have been estimated to have among the highest levels of per 
capita fish consumption of any nation, at 160 kilos per 



Maldives 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




301 


GDP (million US$1 




215 


Land area (km^l 




210 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




996 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


160 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%) 




11 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




8 920 


Coral diversity 




212/244 


Mangrove area (km'j 




na 


No. of mangrove species 




9 


No. of seagrass species 




1 




25 km 



person per year The majority of this consumption is of tuna 
and other pelagic species, while the majority of export 
fisheries are also centered on tuna. Some reef fish are taken 
for local consumption, but the most important reef fishery 
is the capture of live bait for the offshore tuna fishery. Fish 
exports for the live fish markets of East and Southeast Asia 
have also been significant through the late 1 990s, and this 
is having an impact on grouper stocks. 

Land reclamation has occurred on a number of reefs, 
while others have been severely impacted by coral mining. 
Given the geography of this coral reef nation, this latter 
activity has traditionally been the only means of acquiring 
natural building material. In the early 1990s it was esti- 
mated that between 200 000 and a million cubic meters 
were mined annually Mining is now restricted to a few 
specified reef areas. The first legally gazetted protected 
areas were designated in 1995 as "protected dive sites"; 
more sites were established in 1999. 

Tourism is restricted to particular resort islands (88 in 
1999), which are usually distinct from the local population 
centers. In 1998 there were almost 400 000 visitors, and 
diving and snorkelling were a major attraction for almost 
all. The islands benefit from a relatively stable climate all 
year round, as well as easily accessible reefs with a high 
abundance of fish (including many of the larger species 



Left: A wide shaltow reef fiat on an atolt perimeter. Rigtit: A broad view of tf\e tigt)t arrangement of atotls in f/ie centrai 
Ivlaidives. dearly foliowing two paraliei cfiains ISTS056-i52-160, 19931. 



MAP 8c 



6°45' 



6°00' 



5° 15' 



4-30' 



3'4S' 



72°30' 



^; 



73°^S 



'°\, Ihavandhipolhu Atoll 



74°00' 






Thiladhumnathi Atoll ^ ^"^ 



Makunudu Atoll /, 



M 



% 

% 



Miladbimmadulu Atoll 



M 



r- 



4-30' 



4'2ff 



L'^-"-'V.^^. 



;73'40' 



r-" - . ." * '■■'- ' ""K. 

Makundhoo Si. ; .' ** J^ 

Kandu OS ^'» • *'•,■• ' *•*?«'■' 

IS * •^.'j ■> ". • 'i 

I g-, ;MafcAtpU ..t^ 

«^^.,.^... 

V ■ • 



6°45' 




HPReafDS 



■ -- Nesimo Thila DS 
Banana Reef DS 

Banana 



4'lff Kuda Haa DS 



Hans Place DS 



Q vSJ^ 



MALE 4 B 12 



6°00' 



:" •/ 



North » ; *^« ♦,» 

Malosmadulu ^.1^^ • . ugoofaam 

y-.:.V^.' Kuredhu Express DS 

tk ' •.-•»•'-' ^?"'°"? -!*^ Fushivaru Thila DS 

••:••,-- ' CrfyDS ^^^ ••— ■ , 

^■. •H r' ,• N^ifam Fadhipolhu 

^. - * .■ * Atoll 

Sorth ?". '^"' 

Malosmadulu 1 ~-.- jat*t3> 

AtoU ^ -•v''a" DhigahhaaDS 



5°15' 



Kaaskidhoo Channel 
Kaashicflioo Atoll ' 



Horsburgh /^ _^ 
Goidu) AtoU •--" -"^ 



(Goidu) Atoll 



INDIAN 
OCEAN 



GaaFaruy— »^ 
AtoU C_> 



Toddu AtoU 
RasduAtoU 



Maaya Thila DS^ . <. 



Rasdhoo 
Kari Beyru Thils, PS 



^&;"f?, TL North Male AtoU 



4'30" 




„ f clLuons Head DS 



tI5|^^j^» ^^ ^Mahibadhoo 
Kadu Rah 77i//a DS J c-*'**^' i ^ 

Mailivanj DS-^ " ■,. 



1^1 

msHeadDS W^m ''Hans Place DS 

Ohmas Thila DS (yi/^J ChSZlDS 

f'i-^-lS South Male AtoU 

fiV*i^0Naafu8hi 

i !.iSl Guraidhoo Channel DS 



3°45' 



..-' Devana Kandu DS 



North 
72°30' 



thNUandu V,.'^'*/ 

AtoU T •;•-./ 



Filitheyo 
Kandu DS 




Vattaru C) 
Kandu DS ■ 




^.>' 



73°15'I<',;"- 



Wataiu AtoU 

MulakuAtoU 



50 km 



74°00' 



MAP8d 




Central Indian Ocean 



such as sharks and manta rays). Whale and dolphin watch- 
ing is beginning in some areas. The impacts of tourism are 
localized, but may be significant in certain sites. Impacts 
include direct diver and anchor damage, interruption of 
sand movements through the building of groynes or jetties, 
localized eutrophication from direct sewage discharge into 
the lagoons, and thermal pollution from desalination 
plants. Solid waste disposal is a significant problem in 
most areas. Undoubtedly the greatest concern for this 
entire nation is the impact of climate change. Coral 
bleaching and mortality have already caused significant 
problems: in the future such events will be exacerbated by 
sea-level rise, and may be further compounded by reduced 
calcification rates on surviving corals. 




Protected areas with coral reefs 

f Site name Designation 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm^i Year 



Maldives 



Anemone City 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Banana Reef 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Devana Kandu 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Dhigali Haa 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Embudu Channel 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Filitheyo Kandu 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Fish Head 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Fushi Kandu 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Fushivaru Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Guraidhoo Channel 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


HP Reef 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Hakura Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Hans Place 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Kadu Rah Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Karl Beyru Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Kuda Haa 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Kuredhu Express 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Lions Head 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Maaya Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Madivaru 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Makundhoo Kandu 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Nasimo Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 


Orimas Thila 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Rasfari 


Dive Site 


, DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1995 


Vattaru Kandu 


Dive Site 


DS 


Unassigned 


na 


1999 



During the 1 998 coral bleaching event the majority of corals died. The darker branches on this colony have already died 
and become overgrown with filamentous algae. 



226 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



British Indian Ocean 
Territory 



MAPSe 




4 km 



The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) covers a 
very large area of reefs and islands, also known as 
the Chagos Archipelago. There are some 50 islands 
and islets and, although the total land area is only 60 square 
kilometers, there is a vast area of reefs. These include five 
true atolls (Blenheim Reef, Diego Garcia, Egmont, Peros 
Banhos and Salomon), a mostly submerged atoll (Great 
Chagos Bank, the largest atoll structure in the world at 
some 13 000 square kilometers), and a number of sub- 
merged banks (including Speakers Bank, Pitt Bank and 
Centurion Bank). The southernmost atoll, Diego Garcia, is 
unusual in having a narrow but continuous land rim 
extending around 90 percent of the atoll's circumference. 
The northerly atolls, by contrast, have only small islands 
scattered around them. As with the Maldives, the Chagos 
Archipelago has grown up over the volcanic trace of the 
Reunion hotspot, and forms the newest and southerrunost 
extension of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. The reefs and 
islands are highly isolated - the nearest reef structures are 
those of the Maldives, some 500 kilometers to the north, 
while the nearest continental land mass is that of Sri 
Lanka, more than 1 500 kilometers away. 

With some 220 scleractinian species, the reefs of the 
Chagos are among the most diverse known for hermatypic 




corals in the Indian Ocean. While recorded fish faunas are 
currently lower than those for the Maldives, it is likely that 
many more have yet to be recorded. Like the Maldives, the 
reefs of the Chagos lie close to the mid-point between the 
eastern and western faunas of the Indian Ocean. This fact, 
combined with their high diversity, lends support to their 
role as an important biogeographic stepping stone in the 
so-called Chagos stricture. The faunal characteristics of 
the Chagos have close affinities to both the Indonesian 
high diversity faunas and the East African faunas. Further 
interesting biodiversity features, including a small number 
of endemic or near endemic species, may be associated 
with the isolation of the Chagos. Undoubtedly the most 
interesting of these is the coral Ctenella chagius which may 
be unique to the Chagos, although there is one reported 
observation from Mauritius. This species is the only extant 
representative of the family Meandrinidae in the entire 
Indo-Pacific, although this family was widespread in the 
Cretaceous (and is widespread in the Caribbean). The 
Chagos goby Trimmalom offucius is endemic to the area 
and the related T. nanus was first reported from these reefs. 
The latter is the smallest fish species in the world, reaching 
maturity at only 8 millimeters in length. 

Prior to 1998, coral cover was high on both seaward 



Left: The southernmost atoll of Diego Garcia includes a major US military base. This atoll is also notable for the narrow 
but nearly continuous island following the atoll rim ISTS038-86-W5, 19901 Right: Coralline algae, rather than scleractinian 
corals, dominate the reef crest on many of the reefs in the Central Indian Ocean, such as this on Peros Banhos. 



MAP8e 



i/roo' 



7r30' 



72°00' 



72°30' 



5°00' 



: 72-12' 


72-14' 






7ri6' 


t 


Salomon 


d 


1 


1 


5-1» 






lie 




1 

r , IleTa 


km 

i 


I 


aultuie 


^ 




J 




■Poule 


3 


km 


5'22' 




1 2 



5°30' 



PerosBanhos » 







Blenheim 
Reef 



'4> 



Salomon 



Eastern Perns 
Banhos Atoll SNR 



5°00' 



5'30' 



BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN 
TERRITORY 



Victory Bank 



Nelson Island SNR 



INDIAN OCEAN 




Centurion 
Bank 



: 7r00' 



i7r30' 



72°00' 



^ 14 21 2 8 35 km 
: 72°30' 



228 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



British Indian Ocean Territory 


General Data 






Population' 







GDPImiUion US$) 







Land area Ikm^l 




72 


Marine area (thousand km^ 




55i 


Per capita fisli consumption 


Ikg/yearl 





Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




3 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




3 770 


Coral diversity 




172/329 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 




na 


No. of mangrove species 




2 


No. of seagrass species 




1 


• There is a non-resident population 


of some 3 000 


military and 


civilian personnel on Diego Garcia 







and lagoonal reef slopes, typically 50-80 percent of 
the substrate down to a depth of about 40 meters. 
Unfortunately this area was heavily damaged during the 
1998 coral bleaching event and, although no records of 
bleaching intensity were made at the time, coral loss has 
been estimated as averaging 80-85 percent on seaward 



slopes, and was close to 100 percent in some areas. In 
addition to its important marine fauna, the Chagos is 
home to the most diverse and one of the largest 
populations of breeding seabirds in the Indian Ocean. 
In 1996, 167 000 breeding pairs of 17 species were 
observed, including critical populations of the red-footed 
booby Siila siila. 

A number of the islands in the Chagos Archipelago, 
inhabited from the late 18th century, were transformed 
by the development of coconut plantations and the 
introduction of rats and other animals. However, it is 
unlikely that this had a major influence on the marine 
environment as there was no major export fishery. There 
was a forced evacuation of the islands in the early 1970s 
when the military base on the southernmost island of 
Diego Garcia was established. This has some 3 000 per- 
sonnel and large vessels permanently at anchor in the 
lagoon. The impacts of this base have included dredging in 
the lagoon and some mining of the reef flat, as well as a 
substantial recreational fishery. There are, however, strict 
environmental controls on many activities. Personnel are 
not permitted to dive, and snorkelling is also forbidden 
on the outer reef slopes. The remaining islands are now 
uninhabited, although there are a number of visiting yachts 
and other vessels (commercial tourist-carrying vessels are 
not permitted). These may be causing localized impacts 
through anchor damage and sewage pollution, notably in 
the enclosed lagoon of Salomon Atoll. 






Left: A red-footed booby at rest in a palm tree. The northern atolls of the Chagos are a major stronghold for this species in the 
Indian Ocean. Right, above. A coconut or robber crab Birgus latro. This land crab can reach i kilos in weight, and is found on 
remote Indo-Paclfic islands where it has not been hunted. Right, below: A black-spotted pufferfish Arothron nigropunctatus. 



Central Indian Ocean 




There is a large offshore tuna fishery as well as a 
small licensed inshore fishery operated by Mauritian 
fishermen who visit the reefs for a few months each year 
There have also been reports of illegal fishing, notably 
for sharks and sea cucumbers, although the BIOT 
Administration has run a fisheries protection vessel for 
part or all of the year over recent years. A number of the 
islands and their associated reefs have been declared 



protected areas. These cover substantial areas of reef 
They are occasionally patrolled by military personnel, 
although the licensed fishing vessels are allowed to oper- 
ate within their borders. Overall, partly as a result of their 
history and continuing isolation, but further supported by 
current management measures, the reefs of the Chagos 
probably represent some of the most pristine and best 
protected in the Indian Ocean. 



Protected areas w 


th coral reefs 










■ Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size (km'l 


Year 


British Indian Ocean Territory 


Cow Island 


Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


II 


na 


1798 


Danger Island 


Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


11 


na 


1998 


Diego Garcia 


Restricted Area 


RestA 


V 


na 


199^ 


Eastern Peros Banhos Atoll 


Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


II 


na 


1998 


Nelson Island 


Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


11 


na 


1998 


Three Brothers and Resurgent 
Islands 


Strict Nature Reserve 


SNR 


11 


na 


1998 





A shallow lagoon scene in Salomon Atoll in 1996. These reefs were devastated by the coral bleaching and mortality 
which occurred in 1998. 



230 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Selected bibliography 



REGIONAL SOURCES 

Brown BE (1V97I. Integrated Coastal Management: South Asia. 

University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne. UK. 
Debelius H 119931. Indian Ocean Tropical Fish Guide. Aquaprint 

Verlags GmbH, Neu Isenburg. Germany. 
GBRMPA, The World Bank, lUCN 11995). A Global 

Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. Volume 

3: Central Indian Ocean, Arabian Seas, East Africa and East 

Asian Seas. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA. 
Linden 0, Sporrong N ledsl 11999). Coral Reef Degradation in 

the Indian Ocean: Status Reports and Project Presentations. 

CORDIO Programme, Stockholm. Sweden. 
ODA led) 11996). Proceedings of the International Coral Reef 

Initiative South Asia Workshop. Overseas Development 

Administration, London. UK. 
Rajasuriya A, Zahir H, Muley EV, Subramanian BR. Venkataraman 

K, Wafar MVM, Khan MSM, Whittingham E 12000). Status of 

coral reefs in South Asia; Bangladesh. India, t«1aldives and 

Sri Lanka. In: Wilkinson CR led]. Status of Coral Reefs of the 

World: 2000. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Cape 

Ferguson, Australia. 
Scheer G 1198A). The distribution of reef corals in the Indian 

Ocean with a historical review of its investigation. Deep Sea 

Res Part A 31: 885-900. 
Sheppard CRC 11987). Coral species of the Indian Ocean and 

adjacent seas: a synonymized compilation and some 

regional distributional patterns. Atoll Res Bull 307: 1-32. 
Sheppard CRC 11998). Biodiversity patterns In Indian Ocean 

corals, and effects of taxonomic error in data. Biodiversity 

and Conservation 7: 8A7-868. 
Stanley Gardiner J 11 909). The Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to 

the Indian Ocean. The Transactions of the Linnean Society of 

London Second Series - Zoology XII: 1 -A 1 9 . 
Stanley Gardiner J 11936). The Percy Sladen Trust Expedition to 

the Indian Ocean. The Transactions of the Linnean Society of 

London Second Series - Zoology X\X: 393-^86. 
Stoddart DR, Yonge M leds) 11971). Symposia of the Zoological 

Society of London, 26: Regional Variation in Indian Ocean 

Coral Reefs. Academic Press, London, UK. 
UNEP/IUCN 11988). UNEP Regional Seas Directories and 

Bibliographies: Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 2: Indian 

Ocean. UNEP and lUCN, Nairobi, Kenya, Gland, Switzerland 

and Cambridge, UK. 
White AT, Fouda MM. Rajasuriya A 119971. Status of coral 

reefs in South Asia, Indian Ocean and Middle East seas 

IRed Sea and Persian Gulfl. Proc 8th Int Coral Reel Symp 1: 

301-306. 
Wilkinson C, Linden 0, Cesar H, Hodgson G, Rubens J, Strong 

AE 11999). Ecological and socioeconomic Impacts of 1998 

coral mortality in the Indian Ocean and ENSO impact and a 

warning of future change. Ambio 28: 188-196. 

INDIA, PAKISTAN AND BANGLADESH 

Ahmed M 11995). Coral Reef Ecosystem of Bangladesh - an 
Overview. Paper presented at International Coral Reef 
Initiative South Asia Regional Workshop, Male, Maldives, 
1995. 

Bahuguna A, Nayak S 11994a|. Coral Reef Mapping of the 
Lakshadweep Islands. Space Applications Centre IISROI. 
Ahmedabad, India. 



Bahuguna A, Nayak 5 1199ib). Mapping the Coral Reefs of 
Tamil Nadu Using Satellite Data. Space Applications Centre 
(ISROI, Ahmedabad, India. 

Bahunguna A. Nayek S. Patel A. Aggarwal JP. Patel GA 11 9931. 
Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat. Space 
Applications Centre IISROI, Ahmedabad, India. 

Goplnadha Plllal CS 11971). Composition of the coral fauna of 
the southeastern coast of India and the Laccadives. In: 
Stoddart DR, Yonge M leds). Symposia of the Zoological 
Society of London, 28: Regional Variation in Indian Ocean 
Coral Reefs. Published for the Zoological Society of London 
by Academic Press, London, UK. 

Nayak S. Bahuguna A. Ghosh A 11994). Coral Reef Mapping of 
the Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands. Space 
Applications Centre lISROl. Ahmedabad. India. 

Pande P. Kotharl A. Singh S leds) 11991). Directory of National 
Parks and Sanctuaries in Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 
Management Status and Profiles. Indian Institute of Public 
Administration, New Delhi, India. 

Pernetta JC 11993). A Marine Conservation and Development 
Report: Marine Protected Area Needs in the South 
Asian Seas Region. Volume 2: India. lUCN, Gland, 
Switzerland. 

Saldanha CJ 11989). Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep: an 
Environmental Impact Assessment. Oxford and IBH 
Publishing Co., New Delhi, India. 

Wafar MVM. Whitaker R 11992). Coral reef surveys in India. 
Proc 7th Int Coral Reef Symp 1 : 13i-137. 

SRI LANKA 

De Bruin GHP. Russel BC. Bogusch A 11995). FAO Species 

Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Marine 

Fishery Resources of Sri Lanka. Food and Agriculture 

Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy 
Maldeniya R 11997). The coastal fisheries of Sri Lanka: 

resources, exploitation and management. In: Sllvestre GT. 

Pauly D ledsl. ICLARM Conference Proceedings. 53: Status 

and Management of Tropical Coastal Fisheries in Asia. 

International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 

Management. Manila, Philippines. 
dhman MC, Rajasuriya A, Linden 11993). Human 

disturbances on coral reefs in Sri Lanka: a case study Ambio 

22: 474-480. 
Ohman MC, Rajasuriya A. Olafsson E (1997). Reef fish 

assemblages in north-western Sri Lanka: distribution 

patterns and influences of fishing practices. Environmental 

Biology of Fishes 49: 45-61 . 
Rajasuriya A. De Silva MWRN. Ohntian MC 11995). Coral reefs of 

Sri Lanka: human disturbance and management issues. 

Ambio 24: 428-437. 
Rajasuriya A. Ohman MC, Johnstone R 11998). Coral and 

sandstone reef-habitats in north-western Sri Lanka: 

patterns in the distribution of coral communities. 

Hydrobiologia 362: 31-43. 
Rajasuriya A, Ohman MC. Svensson S 11998). Coral and rock 

reef habitats in southern Sri Lanka: patterns in the 

distribution of coral communities. Ambio 27: 723-728. 
Rajasuriya A. Premaratne A (2000). Sri Lanka. In: Sheppard C 

led). Seas at the Millennium: An Environmental Evaluation. 

Elsvler Science Ltd. Oxford. UK. 



Central Indian Ocean 



MALDIVES 

Anderson RC, Randall JE. Kulter RH (19981. Additions to the 
fish fauna of the Maldive Islands. Part 2: New records of 
fishes from the Maldive Islands, with notes on other species. 
Ichth Bull JLB Smith Inst Ichth 67: 20-32. 

Edwards AJ, Dawson Shepherd A 119921. Environmental 
implications of aquarium-fish collection in the Maldives, with 
proposals for regulation. Em Cons 19: 61-72. 

NIO 119911. Scientific Report on Status of Atoll Mangroves from 
the Republic of Maldives. Report submitted to Ministry of 
External Affairs. New Delhi, December 1991. National 
Institute of Oceanography. Goa. India. 

Pernetta JC (19931. A Marine Conservation and Development 
Report: Marine Protected Area Needs in the South Asian 
Seas Region. Volume 3: Maldives. lUCN. Gland. Switzerland. 

Randall JE (19921. Diver's Guide to Fishes of the Maldives. 
Immel Publishing. London. UK, 

Randall JE, Anderson RC (19931. Annotated checldist of the 
epipelagic and shore fishes of the Maldive Islands. Ichth Bull 
JLB Smith Inst Ichth 59: 1 -47, 

Sluka RD, Reichenbach N (19961. Grouper density and 
diversity at two sites in the Republic of Maldives. Atoll Res 
ButU38: 1-16. 



and bl. For Bangladesh, small areas of coral were added from 
Ahmed (19951. which includes a sl<etch map at an approximate 
scale of 1:33 000. 
Ahmed M (19951. Coral Reef Ecosystem of Bangladesh - an 

Overview. Paper presented at International Coral Reef 

Initiative South Asia Regional Worl(Shop, Male, Maldives, 

1995. 
Hydrographic Office (1989al, Islands of Lakshadweep. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 705. Various scales. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1989bl. Lakshadweep Sea northern part. 

British Admiralty Chart No. 2738. 1 :750 000. Taunton, UK. 

Map 8b 

Coral reef data are largely based on UNEP/IUCN |1988bl*. with 
original data at a scale of approximately 1:200 000. Small 
additional polygons were added for individual sites for the 
Buona Vista Reef from Karunaratne and Weerakkody 119951 
and for Kalpitiya Peninsula based on Ohman et al (1993L 
Karunaratne L, Weerakkody P (19951. Report on the Status and 

Bio-Diversity of the Buona-Vista Coral Reef. Draft report, 
Ohman MC, Rajasuriya A, Linden (19931. Human 

disturbances on coral reefs m Sri Lanka: a case study. Ambio 

22(71: 47i-480. 



BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY 

Anderson RC, Sheppard CRC, Spalding MD, Crosby R (19981. 

Shortage of sharks at Chagos. Shark News (newsletter of 

the lUCN Shark Specialist Groupl 10: 1-3, 
BIOT Administration (19971, The British Indian Ocean Territory 

Conservation Policy, October 1997. British Indian Ocean 

Territory Administration, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 

London, UK, 
Sheppard C, Topp J (1999). Natural History of the Chagos 

Archipelago, 3: Birds of Chagos. Friends of the Chagos. 

London, UK 
Sheppard CRC (1999). Coral Decline and Weather Patterns 

over 20 years in the Chagos Archipelago, Central Indian 

Ocean. A report commissioned by the Government of the 

British Indian Ocean Territory, School of Biological Sciences, 

University of Warwick, 
Sheppard CRC, Seaward MRD (edsl (19991, Linnean Society 

Occasional Publications, 2. Ecology of the Chagos 

Archipelago. Westbury Academic and Scientific Publishing 

and Linnean Society of London, Otley and London, UK. 
Spalding MD, Anderson RC (19971. Natural History of the 

Chagos Archipelago, 2. Reef Fishes of Chagos. Friends of the 

Chagos, London, UK, 
Stoddart DR, Taylor JD (19711. Geography and ecology of 

Diego Garcia Atoll, Chagos Archipelago, Atoll Res Bull U9: 

1-237, 
Topp J, Seaward M (19991. Natural History of the Chagos 

Archipelago, 4: Plants of Chagos. Friends of the Chagos, 

London, UK, 
Winterbottom R. Anderson RC (1997). A revised checklist of 

the epipelagic and shore fishes of the Chagos Archipelago, 

Central Indian Ocean. Ichth Bull JLB Smith Inst Ichth 

66: 1-28. 



Maps 8c and 8d 

Atoll names are provided on the map, these are the 
traditional" or geographic names, and do not always equate 
with the names of the administrative units which are used in 
some sources. The spelling of Maldivian names varies 
considerably between sources. Coral reef and island 
boundaries are based on Hydrographic Office (1992a, b, c, dl, 
much of which was based on satellite imagery of 1984 and 
1986. supplemented by aerial photography of 1969. 
Hydrographic Office (1992a). Addoo Atoll to North Huvadhoo 

Atoll. British Admiralty Chart No. WIT 1:300 000. October 

1992. Taunton. UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1992b). North Huvadhoo Atoll to Mulaku 

Atoll. British Admiralty Chart No. 1012. 1:300 000, October 

1992, Taunton, UK, 
Hydrographic Office (1992c), Mulaku Atoll to South 

Maalhosmadula Atoll, British Admiralty Chart No. 1013. 

1:300 000. October 1992. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1992d). South Maalhosmadula Atoll to 

Ihavandhippolhu Atoll. Brihsh Admiralty Chart No. 1014. 

1:300 000. October 1992. Taunton, UK. 

Map8e 

Coral reef and islands are based on USDMA (19761. Source data 
for this map include previous editions (original 1906, large 
corrections 19711 with amendments to the area boundaries 
derived from 1976 Landsat data. 
USDMA (1976). Indian Ocean, Chagos Archipelago. Chart No. 

6 1610. 1 :360 000. US Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic 

Center 



Map sources 
Map 8a 

Coral reefs of India were derived from relatively low resolution 
(1:10000 000 to 1:2 000 0001 UNEP/IUCN (1988bl', and from 
Petroconsultants SA 119901*, with additional higher resolution 
data for the Laccadive Islands from Hydrographic Office (1989a 



* See Technical notes, page 401 



MAP 9 




Middle Eastern Seas 233 



Chapter 9 

Middle Eastern Seas 




The seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula 
are an area of striking contrasts, in their 
geology and their biology, and in their status 
in relation to man. They are bordered by 
some of the world's richest and poorest 
countries. The vast majority of reefs are very little 
know/n, while others have been the focus of study for 
decades. They include some of the most northerly reef 
communities in the world, subject to harsh climatic 
extremes including high and low temperatures, but 
also to high levels of solar insolation. Despite this, the 
Red Sea and Gulf of Aden may be the most biologically 
diverse coral reef area away from the Southeast Asian 
center of diversity. Biologically the area is relatively 
isolated as there are no true reefs along much of the 
coasts of Pakistan or eastern Somalia, which might be 
seen as the edges of the region. 

The region is clearly divided into five major 
waterbodies: the Arabian Gulf [alternatively referred 
to as the Gulf or Persian Gulfl, the Gulf of Oman, 
the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, 
each with distinctive ecological and oceanographic 
characteristics. Until the mid to late 1980s however. 



only the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf had been studied in 
any detail. The Arabian Sea coast was almost entirely 
unknown until the late 1980s, and the Gulf of Aden 
until the mid to late 1990s. As a conseguence, many of 
the earlier reviews of this region have ignored wide 
areas where there are highly distinctive and important 
marine communities. 

Both the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf are 
partially isolated from the Indian Ocean, and both have 
inflowing surface currents for much of the yean 
Geologically speaking, the Red Sea is an ocean, 
defined by its sea floor which is a basaltic and 
spreading rift system. It has been separating Africa 
from the Arabian Peninsula for the last 70 million 
years. Although remarkably deep and steep-sided 
along the northern two thirds of this coastline, the 
continental shelf south of about 19°N becomes very 
wide, giving rise to guite different conditions and 
ecological communities. The connection to the Indian 
Ocean is very shallow, and has been closed many 
times in its history, each time causing massive 
changes in salinity and loss of most or all species 
living in its waters. The latest phase of isolation from 



Left: The northern Red Sea and Sinai Peninsula. Fringing reefs line many of these coastlines but are often too narrow to be 
visible at this scale. Shallow platform reefs are visible in the mouth of the Gulf of Suez (STSOiO-78-88. 19911 Right: Pocillopora 
corals. Large monospecific communities are widespread in the Gulf of Aden and southern Arabia Iphoto: Jerry Kemp). 



234 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



the Indian Ocean took place during the Pleistocene, 
and reconnection with the Indian Ocean probably only 
occurred some 17 000 years ago. It remains unclear 
whether this latest phase led to the total extinction of 
coral reef species, or whether some survived in certain 
refugia in the southern Red Sea and/or the Gulf of 
Aqaba. Many of the reefs that are visible today are 
actually relatively thin modern veneers of reef deposits 
which have recolonized older Pleistocene reefs. The 
Red Sea and Gulf of Aden have large numbers of 
endemic species, and it may well have been these 
same climatic shifts and periods of isolation and 
reconnection that drove the development of new 
species. Areas in the Gulf of Aden may have acted 
as refuges for these species when the Red Sea itself 
was devoid of life. 




^^HHx^K^j^ '^^BiuP^^^B^H 


1^^^^^ 










*M 




^"S^! 



Reefs are poorly developed along the southern and 
eastern shores of Arabia, due to the regular cold up- 
wellings associated with the Somali Current. Along the 
areas of coastline most exposed to these upwellings, 
in southern Oman and eastern Yemen, macroalgal 
rather than coral communities predominate, but in 
more sheltered areas such as the leeward sides of 
islands, extensive and high-cover coral communities 
are found. Recent work in the eastern Gulf of Aden has 
revealed unexpectedly extensive and diverse coral 
communities along both northern and southern shores, 
including some of the most diverse fish communities in 
the wider region. This is in marked contrast to the 
previously held view that this body of water was devoid 
of such coral communities. 

The Arabian Gulf is a vast shallow sea with little in 
common with the Red Sea, other than the fact that it 
too has been subject to periodic drying out over recent 
geological history. The natural environment is one of 
harsh climatic extremes, relating to both the high 
latitude and shallow waters. As a consequence reef 
development is somewhat restricted and biological 
diversity is very low. 

Human pressures on the reefs in the region vary 
considerably. Fisheries are an important activity in 
some countries, although there are few detailed 
records of catch sizes. Overfishing may not yet be as 
widespread a problem as in many other regions, but 
occurs in some areas, including around Yemen and the 
Gulf of Aden where lobster and shark fisheries are 
having particular impacts. The region is the principal 
world petroleum producer and exporter, and a major 
global shipping route, with related risks of pollution, 
collisions, groundings, ballast and other discharges. 
Chronic oil pollution is higher in the Arabian Gulf than 
in any other coral reef area. Massive development has 
occurred in parts of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea and 
in the Arabian Gulf, leading to direct impacts from 
land reclamation and sedimentation, and also more 
widespread degradation associated with urban and 
industrial pollution. Coastal and reef-based tourism 
has only really developed in the northern Red Sea. 
but here the rates of growth have been massive, with 
significant negative impacts in some areas and impor- 
tant examples of successful management in others. 

Many of the physical and biological features of this 
region are best explained and understood from the 
perspective of natural rather than political sub- 
divisions, so the main sections of this chapter follow 
natural sub-divisions. Saudi Arabia, which dominates 
the region in terms of reef area, is treated separately. 
However, detailed information about the biology and 
oceanography of this country can also be found in the 
other sub-regional sections. 



Above: A grey reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos. Sharks are now being heavily fished in the southern Red Sea and 
Gulf of Aden. Below: Red Sea racoon butterflyfish Chaetodon fasciatus, one of many species endemic to the Red Sea and 
Gulf of Aden (photo: Jerry Kempl. 



Middle Eastern Seas 235 



Northern Red Sea: 
Egypt, Israel, Jordan 



MAP 9a 




The northern Red Sea includes the coastlines of 
Egypt, Israel and Jordan, and a substantial part 
of Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline. This section 
begins with a description of the coral reefs, together with 
many of the physical and biogeographic characteristics 
which are continuous between these countries. This is fol- 
lowed by individual descriptions of each country along 
with the relevant human interactions and uses of coral 
reefs. For this purpose, Saudi Arabia, which spans several 
regions, is considered independently. 

The northern Red Sea enjoys a number of important 
and interesting geological and biogeographic features. In 
the far north, the Red Sea rift system splits into the Gulfs 
of Suez and Aqaba. Both of these are also rift systems, but 
have markedly different morphologies. The Gulf of Suez is 
a spreading rift, but has remained very shallow, averaging 
a depth of about 30 meters. This area is subjected to con- 
siderable climatic extremes associated with its northerly 
latitude and shallow waters, and hence species diversity is 
generally low compared to the rest of the Red Sea. There 
are intermittent fringing reefs along most of the western 
side, while the eastern side has smaller discontinuous 
patch reefs. 

The Gulf of Aqaba is quite different. It has been formed 



by a strike-slip rift system as the Arabian Peninsula has 
moved both in parallel and apart from the Sinai. The same 
faulting goes on into the Dead Sea rift. The gulf is actually 
very deep, reaching about 2 000 meters and remaining deep 
right up to its northern shores. At its southern "mouth" 
there is a shallow sill and some relatively extensive areas of 
high quality shallow water reefs, particularly on the eastern 
side. Inside the gulf itself only narrow fringing reefs have 
developed on the steeply shelving coastline. Reef flats are 
often only a few tens of meters wide, while reef slopes are 
characteristically steep to vertiginous. 

South of the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez, both eastern 
and western shores of the Red Sea are lined by fringing 
reefs. These are continuous, often for tens of kilometers, 
and typically have relatively narrow reef flats. Offshore 
reefs are well developed at the mouths of the Gulfs of 
both Aqaba and Suez where there are a number of plat- 
form reefs and islands. To the south of the region, in an 
area known as Gebel Elba, the coastal reefs lie as far as 70 
kilometers offshore. There are likely to be some interest- 
ing and important areas of shallow water communities in 
this area, although it has not yet been studied. 

The reefs in this region extend into high latitudes and 
have adapted to relatively low temperatures. Mean surface 



Left: Reefs and islands in the souttiern Gulf of Suez ISTS026-4i-59. 1988i Right: A steep reef slope, typical of the 
northern and central Red Sea fringing reefs Ipfioto: Jerry Kempl. 



MAP 9a 




Middle Eastern Seas 



237 




■:»-£ .^-^'^^*~'ii^i'i'fe<^:?**~» -*-r^"^^";^^ 



temperatures at Suez are 17.5°C, with low extremes 
dropping to below IO°C. Salinities are also very high in 
the north, typically about 40.5%o (parts per thousand), but 
reaching 42.5%o in the northern Gulf of Suez. 

Although biodiversity remains high even at the 
northernmost tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, there is clearly 
some reduction in species numbers with increasing 
latitude in both of the northerly gulfs. This may be asso- 
ciated with the extreme winter cold, although high salinity 
probably also plays a role, particularly in the Gulf of Suez. 
Despite this general picture, a number of other coral and 
fish species are found in the northern regions which 
become rare or absent in similarly shallow waters further 
south. Some 218 hard corals have been recorded in the 
Gulf of Aqaba. Live coral cover is generally high 
throughout the region, reaching 60-80 percent on many 
reef slopes. The most northerly mangroves in the Indian 
Ocean region are located along the Egyptian coastline of 
Sinai and these, together with most other mangrove areas 
in the northern and central Red Sea, are composed of 
monospecific stands of Avicennia marina. 

No reefs were observed to be bleached in 1998. 
Crown-of-thorns starfish have generally been rare in the 
region, though outbreaks have affected a number of reefs 
in the southern Gulf of Aqaba since 1998. These were 
quite localized and temporary, and large numbers were 
removed, including 70 000 from Tiran and a further 27 000 
from Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran. Similar out- 
breaks in more remote locations may have gone unnoticed. 

Generally, human population densities are low along 
most of the coastal zone and are ahnost entirely confined to 
urban centers. Fisheries are generally not a major industry. 



Most are artisanal, undertaken particularly by Bedouin 
peoples using traditional techniques. Tourism, by contrast, is 
a major mdustry, particularly in Egypt. Further details of 
these and other impacts are considered for the separate 
countries below. 



Egypt 



Egypt's extensive coastline incorporates a significant 
proportion and a considerable range of the coral reefs 
found in the Red Sea, including a small number of reefs 
and islands lying in deep water at some distance from the 
continental shelf Human activities along this coastline are 
highly varied, and include areas of quite intensive use and 
considerable reef degradation, but also areas which 
remain relatively remote and inaccessible, and which are 
largely unimpacted by humans. 

Marine fishing is not a major industry in Egypt. There 
is a small amount of commercial fishing in the southern 
reef areas, and heavy trawling activity was reported in the 
Gulf of Suez in the late 1990s. However, many reefs are 
only lightly fished. In contrast, pollution from shipping 
and oil spillage are a significant threat, notably along the 
coastline of the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba. Ship groundings 
have also been a problem, causing direct physical 
destruction to some reefs, and raising concerns about the 
potential economic repercussions arising from any damage 
to the major tourist beaches and dive sites. The Suez Canal 
also provides an additional threat. The canal itself was first 
opened in 1869 and provides a direct sea-level connection 
between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Such a con- 
nection allows species to move between these two seas 



Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula, with the fringing reef clearly visible behind. 



238 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




\ 


' - 


d 




^ 






^U^ 


^IP^^^HRB^^^^^ 






^^■^ 






.-ici^!-^^^^^^ 



and to invade areas where they have not previously been 
recorded (although in fact conditions in the canal are 
very harsh and highly saline, making the transfer more 
difficult). Thus far there has been a quite considerable flow 
of species from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean, but 
relatively few have made the reverse journey and their 
impacts on reefs are insignificant. 

The greatest impact on the reefs has been the explosion 
of coastal tourism since the 1980s, with massive growth of 
resort towns in Sinai and along the mainland Red Sea coast. 
The latter areas, especially around Hurghada and Safaga, 
have been particularly poorly planned, leading to the 



degradation or loss of many of the nearshore fringing reefs. 
New developments are continuing, notably at Ras Abu 
Soma but also at localities further south. On the Aqaba 
coast of Sinai there has again been a massive expansion of 
the tourist industry - in the Ras Mohammed and Nabq areas 
tourist rooms increased from nearly 600 in 1988 to over 
6 000 by 1995 and 16 000 in 1999 - while massive new hotel 
developments are being planned at Nabq Bay and close to 
the Israeli border at Taba. The international airport at 
Sharm el Sheikh was receiving more than 30 European 
charter flights per week in the late 1990s. Despite this 
boom, relatively strict planning measures have been 



P"* 


Egypt 


Israel 


Jordan 


General Data 








Population (thcusandsl 


68 360 


5 8^12 


4 999 


GDP (million US$1 


55 680 


79 610 


6 108 


Land area Ikm^l 


982 940 


20 74/i 


90 177 


Marine area (thousand km^j 


242* 


4.1* 


0.2 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/yearl 


7 


23 


4 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk (%) 


61 


100 


75 


Recorded coral diseases 


5 








Biodiversity 








Reef area Ikm^l 


3 800 


<10 


<50 


Coral diversity 


126/318 


U5/na 


na / na 


Mangrove area (km^) 


861 








No. of mangrove species 


2 








No. of seagrass species 


9 


A 


na 


'Marine area includes Mediterranean Sea 




Ml^m. J^MM 





Left: Manta rays Manta birostris are often seen wfiere reefs lie adjacent to deeper water. Right: T/ie two-banded 
anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctus, endemic to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Iphoto: Jerry Kempl. 



Middle Eastern Seas 



239 



Protected 


areas with coral reefs 










■ Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikmil 


Year 


Egypt 


Abu Galium 


Managed Resource 
Protected Area 


MRPA 


VI 


458.00 


1992 


Dahab 


Protected Coastline 


PCo 


VI 


75.00 


1992 


Gebel Elba 


Conservation Area 


CA 


IV 


4 800.00 


1986 


Nabq 


Managed Resource 
Protected Area 


MRPA 


VI 


587.00 


1992 


Ras Mohammed 


National Park 


NP 


II 


460.00 


1983 


Red Sea Islands 


Protected Area 


PA 


VI 


na 


1983 


Sharm el Sheikh 


Protected Coastline 


PCo 


VI 


75.00 


1992 


Taba Coast 


Protected Coastline 


PCo 


VI 


735.00 
371.00 


1996 
1983 


Tiran - Senafir 


National Park 


NP 


II 


Israel 








Eilat Coral 


Reserve 


R 


IV 


0.50 


na 


Jordan 


Aqaba 


Marine Park 


MP 


Unassigned 


2.00 


na 





adopted and enforced in the south Sinai area and the direct 
impact on the reefs has been low. 

A very substantial proportion of Egypt's coral reefs 
are protected, including all those in the Gulf of Aqaba and 
all the fringing reefs around islands in the Red Sea itself 
There are 22 islands covered by this legislation, including 
the important and remote offshore islands of the Brothers 
(El Akhawein), Daedalus (Abu El Kizan). Zabargad and 
Rocky. The reefs of the Sinai Peninsula have undergone 
active management since the early 1990s. Mooring buoys 
have been installed and restrictions are enforced at the 
sites. A user fee system, (US$5 per day in 2000) helps to 
support these activities. The significant value of reefs 
in the national economy has led to the recognition and 
establishment of a fine system for damage to the reef 
substrate (from ship groundings and other activities). This 
has been calculated at USS300 per square meter for each 
year until estimated recovery (up to 100 years if large, 
slow-growing Pontes colonies are damaged). 

Israel 

Israel has only about 12 kilometers of Red Sea coastline, 
which is now entirely taken up with urban and industrial 
development. Nearshore there is a small area of reef, 
however the stresses in these waters are considerable, 
including poorly treated sewage discharge, mariculture 



effluents, bilge and ballast water discharges, and other 
chemical discharges (including phosphates, detergents, 
pesticides, hydrocarbons). On the coast itself there has been 
sand nourishment of the beaches (the addition of sand from 
elsewhere to satisfy tourist requirements), and solid waste 
IS a problem. Although protected, the reef is further sub- 
ject to some of the highest diver densities in the world, 
with an estimated 200 000 dives per year in the late 1990s, 
largely taking place in the nature reserve. Declines in the 
reef are notable - even in a less heavily dived location live 
coral cover dropped from 70 percent in 1996 to 30 percent 
in 2000, and coral recruitment was also reported to be 
declining. Direct damage by divers is high, although it 
has been reduced following the introduction of diver 
education programs. 

Jordan 

Jordan has a short coastline, with considerable urban and 
industrial development in the north but relatively little 
further south, although it is likely to expand to these areas 
in the future. Diving tourism is a significant part of the 
economy and most of the reefs are protected. Enforcement 
has been a problem, although a number of staff have now 
been trained in the Ras Mohammed National Park in 
Egypt. Pollution from the fertilizer industry and sewage 
are problems in the north of the country. 



240 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Saudi Arabia 



MAPS 9b, c, d, and e 




20 km 



The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest coral reef 
nation in the region, with an extensive coastline 
facing the Red Sea, and an additional significant 
coastline along the western shores of the Arabian Gulf A 
brief description of the distribution and biodiversity of these 
reefs is provided here, and further information on their 
physical and biological features and surrounding waters is 
provided in the other regional sections of this chapter 

The Red Sea coastline extends from the border with 
Jordan in the northern Gulf of Aqaba all the way to the 
border with Yemen in the southern Red Sea, following the 
clear climatic and physical gradients described elsewhere. 
This region is arid and dominated by high relief along much 
of its length. Offshore the waters mirror the patterns of the 
western shores of the Red Sea. In the north there is little or 
no continental shelf, reef flats are narrow, and the reef 
profiles are often steep to vertiginous. Further south the 
continental shelf widens, and in the far south becomes very 
wide, with extensive, shallow, and turbid inshore waters. 

In terms of biodiversity, this coastline incorporates the 
full wealth of Red Sea species, including those endemic to 
northern regions, but also the communities and species 
which are more abundant further south. Surveys from 1997 
to 1999 revealed some 260 species of hard coral. 




Fringing reefs form a near continuous strip along 
much of the northern coastline. Further south there is a 
complex series of fringing, patch and barrier reefs and 
small islands near the Saudi Arabian coastline on the Al 
Wadj Bank. This area also houses important and extensive 
seagrass and mangrove communities. South of this, a 
discontinuous barrier-type structure has been described 
running from Al Wadj to Jeddah and termed the Little 
Barrier Reef In the far south of the country physical 
conditions inhibit the development of extensive reef areas 
close to the continental coastline. However, in a direct 
parallel with conditions on the coastline of Eritrea, there 
is extensive mangrove and seagrass development along 
this coastline, while offshore there is important reef 
development around the Farasan Islands. Reefs at some 
locations from Yanbu to Rabigh were observed to be 
heavily bleached in August/September 1998, associated 
with elevated sea surface temperatures. 

Large parts of Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastline are 
undeveloped, particularly away from the central towns of 
Jeddah and Yanbu. Sewage pollution and land reclamation 
are concerns around many of the larger towns, including Al 
Wadj, Yanbu, Jeddah and Jizan. Close to these there are an 
estimated 18 desalination plants along the Red Sea coast. 



Left: The Al Wadj Bank. In addition to fringing and barrier reefs, tfiis area includes important seagrass and mangrove 
communities ISTS038-77-11. 19901. Rigl^t: The Red Sea coastline running north from Jeddah. Although reefs have been 
badly disrupted as this city has grown, important fringing and patch reefs remain to north and south ISTS062-90-8I, 19941. 



Middle Eastern Seas 



Protected areas 


wi 


th 


coral reefs 








W Site name ^^^^^^^^v. 






Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. Size IkmM 


Year 


Saudi Arabia 












1981 


Asir 






National Park 


NP 


V A 500.00 


Dawat Ad-Dafl/Dawat Al- 
Musallamiyah/CoraL Islands 






Protected Area 


PA 


Unassigned 2 100.00 


na 



Farasan Islands 



Protected Area 



PA 



Umm al-Qamari Islands 



Protected Area 



PA 



600.00 1989 
1.60 1978 



creating localized problems through the return of warm, 
highly saline waters together with chemicals such as 
chlorine and anti-scaling compounds. Oil pollution is a 
threat to reefs around some of the major ports and the 
refinery in Yanbu. Jeddah is the largest of the Red Sea 
ports and has undergone massive expansion in recent 
decades, including large amounts of reclamation and 
building work directly on the fringing reef flats. Intensive 
industrial and urban development now extends over more 
than 100 kilometers of this coastline, and many of the 
nearshore reefs (together with associated seagrass and 
mangrove areas) have been severely degraded or destroyed, 
with pollution and sedimentation combining with the 
direct impacts of reclamation. Away from these urban areas 
coastal development remains limited and the reefs are in 
relatively good condition. 

Fishing is not a major industry in the country. There is 
significant fishing for food and recreation on the nearshore 
reefs close to the towns, threatening local populations of 
target species such as large groupers, but there is little or 
no artisanal fishing. Some commercial fishing activities 
operate out of Jeddah and Jizan, mostly in the shallow bank 
areas to south of the country, where there is trawling for 
prawns and some fishing for pelagic species. There are no 
detailed statistics describing the size of this fishery. 

Tourism is largely unknown, and there is no active 
promotion of diving or snorkelling, although a number of 
dive centers cater for local needs, which include significant 
numbers of expatriate workers. Such recreational activities 
are most significant on the reefs around Jeddah. A large 
number of marine protected areas have been proposed 
along this coastline, though few have been declared. 



Arabian Gulf coast 

Saudi Arabia probably has some of the most extensive and 
diverse coral reefs in the Gulf There are fringing reefs 
around a number of the offshore islands, with coral growth 
extending to depths of about 18 meters. Closer to the 



mainland there are smaller patches and pinnacles. Up to 50 
coral species and over 200 fish species have been recorded, 
with the greatest diversity found in offshore areas. Live 
coral cover decreased considerably through the 1990s, and 
extensive coral mortality linked to the 1998 bleaching event 
was reported on nearshore reefs. 

Extensive sections of this coastline are developed and 
there are large numbers of offshore oil platforms. Impacts 
on the reefs include those arising from oil pollution, solid 
waste, and industrial and sewage effluents. There have also 
been more direct impacts from land reclamation. A large 
area of reefs have legal protection in one of the only marine 
protected areas in the Arabian Gulf, although it is unclear 
to what degree this site is actively managed. Some of 
the Gulf's more general biological and physical features, 
together with major human impacts, are discussed more 
fiilly in the final section of this chapter 



HH^^B Saudi Arabia 


-^ 


General Data 






Population (thousands) 




22 02/J 


GDPImiUion US$1 




102 677 


Land area (km^l 




1 9A8 734 


Marine area (thousand km^ 




82 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


7 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




60 


Recorded coral diseases 




3 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




6 660 


Coral diversity* 




187/3U 


Mangrove area [km^l 




292 


No. of mangrove species 




3 


No. of seagrass species 




5 


*The higher figure is an estimate for the Red Sea Iposs 


bly an 


underestimate); some 68 species are 


estimated for the Arabian Gulf 



MAP 9b 



26° 



\. 



EGYPT 



24° 



22° 



20° 



18° 



36° 



Daedalus 
(Abu el Kizan) 




Gebel 
Elba CA 




Zabargad (St John's I.) 
Rocky I. 



i •*"•. Rawabel Is. 
'. 1. 



Halaib • ' 



SAUDI ARABIA 



'I Ras Hadaiba 



RED SEA 



Makkah (Mecca) 



Dungunab a^ r. 



Ras Abu Shagaia 



SUDAN 



Muhammad Qol •ivi'X 

I' Mukawwar I. 

> Shaab Salak 



I , ^ Shaab Rumi 



\ 



^"Srail 



■<■' 



' Sanganeb Atoll 
^t> Sanganeb Atoll MNP 



- >•; 



Suakinci 






Sell Ada Kebir 

. Suakin 
Archipelago 



>0 






26° 



24° 



22° 



20° 



, Al QunMhah 



\ tGreen 



HilletAteib* 
Tokar< 



Reef 

Talla Talla Kebir 
'-y Talla Talla Saghir 



Islands PA 
C 



> 



Aqlq* 



Umm al-Qamari 'J 
ixiands PA '^ 

I 

) <i ■ Y 



BIrk 



\1 Qahmah^ 



18° 



V 



N 

+ 



\ 



\ 



4 8 120 160 20 0' km 
36° 



Alghena* 
ERITREA 
38° 



40° 






1 



Middle Eastern Seas 



2A3 



Central Red Sea: Sudan 



MAP 9b 



The central Red Sea can be defined politically as the 
coastlines of Sudan in the west and the central areas 
of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea Coast in the east. 
Details of the latter, particularly the human interactions 
with reefs, can be found in the section on Saudi Arabia. 

Geomorphologically the region is again characterized 
by steeply shelving coastlines to the north. However, 
heading south from about 20''N is a relatively rapid tran- 
sition as the coastlines change to a broad and more gently 
inclined continental shelf The shores are lined by fringing 
reefs, mostly with shallow reef flats a few tens of meters 
wide in the north, although becoming broader further 
south and stretching out from the coast in areas where 
there are wide alluvial fans. 

In addition to fringing reefs, discontinuous barrier- 
type structures have been described on both Sudanese 
and Saudi Arabian coastlines. To the south, the Suakin 
Archipelago consists of a number of offshore islands 
rising from relatively deep water. Most of these have 
significant fringing reefs, although wave action appears to 
have restricted reef growth on some. Although a number 
of reef structures on both sides of the Red Sea have some 
atoll-like features, Sudan has the only true atoll, Sanganeb 
Atoll, which rises from a depth of 800 meters. 

Biologically, this region has many similarities with 
the more northerly reefs, though it is not affected by 
such extreme winter cooling and salinities are more stable. 
These are among the most biologically diverse reefs in 
the entire Western Indian Ocean region. Coral cover is of 
course highly varied, but levels of 85 percent (hard and soft 
coral combined) have been recorded on the reef slope of 
Sanganeb Atoll. Further south, as the continental shelf 
widens, there is a relatively rapid transition with the appear- 
ance of communities distinctive to the southern Red Sea. 
In patterns which appear to be mirrored at least among 
corals and fish, there are considerable changes in domi- 



Sudan 




General Data 




Population Ithousandsl 


35 080 


GDP (million US$1 


29 761 


Land area (km^l 


2 i90 389 


Marine area (thousand km^j 


33 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


2 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%l 


32 


Recorded coral diseases 





Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^l 


2 720 


Coral diversity 


106/313 


Mangrove area (km^) 


937 


No. of mangrove species 


3 


No. of seagrass species 


2 

1 



nance and species replacement. A number of endemic Red 
Sea species are in fact restricted to the northern regions, 
while others rarely migrate to these parts. Moving south, 
the area of mangroves also begins to increase and a second 
species, Rhizophora mucronata, occurs. 

Port Sudan is a relatively large port, although 
development here is clearly far less extensive than in 
Jeddah on the Saudi Arabian coastline, while Suakin is 
the only other coastal city. Sewage pollution is reported 
to be a problem close to both cities. Away from these 
areas, the population densities are low. There is a growing 
recreational dive industry, almost entirely run from 
"live-aboard" boats operating our of Egypt and Port 
Sudan: thus far the total numbers of visitors to these reefs 
are still low. 



Protected 


areas 


wi 


th 


coral reefs 






T 


Site name 








Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. Size Ikm'l 


Year ! 


Sudan 


Sanganeb Atoll 








Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 260.00 


1990 






^ 


^ 




_^ 





244 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Southern Red Sea: Eritrea 
and Yemen 



MAP9C 




The physical structure of the Red Sea changes sig- 
nificantly in its southern sections. Offshore, the 
continental shelf broadens and waters remain 
relatively shallow over wide areas, while the inshore waters 
become somewhat turbid. Nearshore fringing reefs are less 
common on the mainland coasts, although some are found 
around offshore islands. Two major archipelagos are 
located here: the Farasan Islands off the Saudi Arabian 
coast which extend into the Kamaran Islands off Yemen, 
and the Dahlak Archipelago off the coast of Eritrea. There 
are also several small islands further to the south. The geo- 
logical origin of these is complex. The Farasan and Dahlak 
archipelagos and the Kamaran Islands are carbonate plat- 
forms which have been uplifted and undergone some further 
modifications. Some of the islands further south are of 
volcanic origin, and this is still a tectonically active region. 
There are large areas of alga! reefs - calcareous platforms 
built almost entirely from coralline red algae - with a 
probable total area of several hundred square kilometers. 
These have developed on the sandy sublittoral zones in 
nearshore waters where conditions of temperature, salinity 
and turbidity appear inimical to coral growth. 

South of about 1 7°N the coasts of the Red Sea draw 
together. At the mouth of the Red Sea, known as the Bab el 
Mandeb (Gate of Lamentations), the water is only about 



130 meters deep. Annual precipitation over the entire Red 
Sea is about 10 millimeters, while evaporation removes 
something of the order of 2 meters of water per year. 
There is therefore a net inflow of water through the Bab el 
Mandeb, although surface currents are more complex with 
a reversed flow for part of the summer. There is also a deep 
current of denser more saline water flowing outwards. The 
water entering the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden is 
relatively rich in nutrients and plankton, contributing to the 
turbidity which appears to restrict reef development in the 
southern Red Sea. 

Temperatures in the southern Red Sea are high, with 
mean surface values of over 32°C recorded in Yemen, while 
lagoon waters regularly reach 45°C. By contrast salinities in 
this region are closer to those of the open ocean. 

Biologically, the southern Red Sea is very distinct. 
Mangroves are well developed along significant stretches 
of the coastline, as are seagrasses in shallow nearshore 
waters. In contrast, many of the fringing reefs are poorly 
developed, and even around the offshore islands partial 
coral cover or fragmentary reef development is common. 
There are lower diversities of both fish and corals (and 
presumably other faunal groups) on almost all reefs, 
although there is also some species replacement of those 
found further north. The changes and decreases in diversity 



The southern Red Sea, including the narrow straits of Bab el Mandeb. with the Gulf of Aden ISTS061 -93-12. 1993]. 



MAP9C 



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0, 30 60 90 120 150 km 

42° 



246 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



are largely explained by changes in environmental 
conditions, including increased turbidity and the loss of 
deeper water species. South of Massawa. reefs support sig- 
nificant growths of Sargassum and other macroalgae during 
the winter, a pattern similar to the coastal communities of 
southern Arabia. Some of the smaller islands in the 
southern Red Sea are of regional importance for seabird 
colonies, and there are important dugong populations in the 
surrounding waters. Bleaching during the 1998 El Nifio 
event was observed in Eritrea, although mortality was res- 
tricted to some shallow water colonies. Such incidents may 
well have been more widespread in the region, although in 
Yemen many corals had m fact died in localized bleaching 
events during a similar warming event in 1995. 



Eritrea 

The reefs of Eritrea are extensive and suffered little 
human impact before the 1990s. Since then there have 
been small increases in both the coastal population and 
fisheries. Commercial trawlers, including licensed vessels 
operating from Saudi Arabia, fish mostly in deeper water 
away from the reefs, although there are thought to be 
some reef-associated species in their catch, and there is 
concern that this might indicate they are straying into reef 
areas. Artisanal fisheries target a broad range of species, 
including finfish, molluscs, sea cucumbers and pearl 
oysters. There is also a commercial fishery for the aquarium 
trade, and around 100 000 fish were exported between 1995 
and 1997. The most important and diverse reefs, around the 
ofTshore islands including the Dahlak Archipelago, remain 
in relatively good condition despite the lack of legal 
protection. By contrast some of the coastal reefs have 



Eritrea 




General Data 






Population (thousands! 




A 136 


GDP (million US$1 




1 ^31 


Land area (km^l 




120 641 


Marine area (thousand km^j 




39 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


<1 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




66 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




3 260 


Coral diversity 




na / 333 


Mangrove area (km^l 




581 


No. of mangrove species 




3 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



Yemen 




General Data 




Population Ithousandsl 


17 479 


GDP (million US$1 


15 387 


Land area (km^l 


733 130 


Marine area (thousand km^j 


547 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


7 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%1 


73 


Recorded coral diseases 





Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^j 


700 


Coral diversity* 


na / 344 


Mangrove area (km^j 


81 


No. of mangrove species 


2 


No. of seagrass species 


8 


• The higher coral diversity figure is lil<ely to be a cons 


iderable 


overestimate as it is based on the biogeographic region v^hich 


includes the Gulf of Aden and Socotra 






'^^s^am^t 



suffered from development and land reclamation, notably 
around Massawa. 

This was an area of considerable political unrest until 
separation from Ethiopia was attained in 1993, and there 
has been sporadic unrest in the south of the country since 
that time. As a result of these problems there is no sig- 
nificant tourism industry, although it seems likely that this 
could develop relatively rapidly as and when social and 
economic stability allow. Considerable efforts have been 
underway since 1999 to develop a comprehensive manage- 
ment regime for the country's coastal resources, including 
the designation of protected areas. 

Yemeni Red Sea 

Yemen has a long coastline, with a short section facing the 
Red Sea and a much longer one (described below) facing the 
Gulf of Aden. In the Red Sea. the Yemen has a more densely 
populated coastline than many other areas. There are oil 
terminals in Hudaydah and Mukha, and oil pollution to- 
gether with sewage and industrial development may be 
having localized impacts. As with Eritrea, political and 
military instability have prevented the development of 
tourism. Fisheries are important, including an offshore trawl 
fishery, but also line and net fisheries, with reports of 
overfishing in some areas. A significant sharkfin fishery has 
been reported in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, 
with many fishers coming from Yemen, and often operating 
illegally in the waters of neighboring countries. Apart from 
driving a rapid decline in shark stocks there is reported to 
be a considerable by-catch, including turtles and dolphins. 



Middle Eastern Seas 



247 



Southern Arabian Region: 
Yemen, Djibouti, northern 
Sonnalia and Oman 



MAP9d 




South of the Bab el Mandeb, the mouth of the Red 
Sea, the waters rapidly open out into the Gulf of 
Aden, a wide semi-enclosed sea bordered by 
Djibouti in the west, Yemen in the North and Somalia and 
the Yemeni islands of Socotra, Abd al Kiri. Darsa and 
Semha in the south. This area is of similar tectonic origin to 
the Red Sea. formed by the spreading of the Sheba Ridge 
which runs down the center of the Gulf of Aden and out into 
the Arabian Sea. Onshore, the coastlines are mountainous, 
while offshore the bathymetry is steep - much of the central 
part of the gulf is over 2 000 meters deep. To the east the 
Gulf of Aden joins the Arabian Sea, which is bordered by 
the coast of Oman in the north and then sweeps northwest 
forming the Gulf of Oman. 

One critical oceanographic feature in this region is that 
of the seasonally reversing monsoon winds which operate 
over the entire Northern Indian Ocean. During the summer 
months there is a sustained strong wind blowing from the 
southwest along the coast of southern Arabia. This wind 
drives the surfaces waters away and, in the Arabian Sea, 
they are replaced by cooler, nutrient-rich waters of about 
16-17°C upwelling from the deeper ocean. In the Gulf of 
Oman the cool water influence is less constant, although 
occasional upwellings occur and can replace surface waters 
very rapidly such that falls of up to 10°C over one or two 




days have been observed. Such upwellings have a signifi- 
cant impact on the ecology, and areas of reef development 
are few. In the Gulf of Aden, although there are still areas 
of upwelling, these are not so widespread and have less 
impact on the shallow inshore communities than is the case 
in southern Oman. 

From an ecological and a biogeographic perspective 
this is a particularly interesting region. The cool nutrient- 
rich upwellings in the east have enabled the development of 
unusual communities dominated by macroalgae. These are 
found over wide areas of hard substrate, where coral reefs 
might normally occur and are dominated by Sargassum and 
Nizamudinnia in shallow waters and by Eklonia in deeper 
areas. Macroalgal communities such as these are more 
typically associated with cooler, temperate waters. Small 
numbers of corals are also sometimes found alongside these 
algae, while in more sheltered areas, such as the landward 
sides of some Omani islands, very extensive high cover 
coral communities are found. Until the mid to late 1990s 
the Gulf of Aden was almost entirely unknown, but recent 
studies have revealed extensive and diverse coral communi- 
ties supporting some of the most diverse fish populations 
of the entire Arabian region. By contrast, macroalgal 
communities appear to be much less widespread or 
dominant in the Gulf of Aden. Another feature, which may 



Left: A mixed community of corals and l<.elp, typical of the areas of upwelling in the Arabian Sea Iphoto: Jerry Kempl. Right: A 
coral community in the Strait of Hormuz, Musandam, Oman. Such communities are rich in diversity, but do not feature on 
most reef maps as they often lacl< a highly developed physical structure Iphoto: Jerry Kempl. 



MAP9d 




Middle Eastern Seas 



249 



be linked to the difficult environmental conditions or to 
unusual processes of coral recruitment or settlement, is the 
development of low diversity coral communities. In several 
countries extensive communities, and sometimes even rudi- 
mentary reefs, occur which are monospecific or dominated 
by only two, three or four coral species. 

Further interest in this region comes from the bio- 
geographic affinities of the coral communities themselves. 
The Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters were not subjected 
to drying out or hypersalinization during the Pleistocene, 
and it is hypothesized that this area was a critical refuge for 
some Red Sea species. At present this remains an area of 
biological transition, or overlap, lying on the biogeographic 
boundary between the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the rest 
of the Indian Ocean. Many of the species typically regarded 
as endemic to the Red Sea, or to the Arabian Sea/ Arabian 
Gulf areas, are also found in the Gulf of Aden. While 
considerable ftirther work is required to understand its 
evolutionary and genetic processes, this remains a region of 
considerable interest. In a few localities in the Gulf of Aden 
species diversity, at least of reef-associated fishes, appears 
to be extremely high, possibly higher than in any other part 
of the Arabian region. The impacts of the 1998 bleaching 
event appear to have been mi.xed: while widespread mor- 
tality has been recorded at some localities, others nearby 
appear to have been largely unaffected. 

Yemen 

The Yemeni coast of the Gulf of Aden remains poorly 
described, but recent studies have found a number of 
interesting and important coral communities and some true 
reefs, including around Al Mukalla, Bir Ali and Shuqra. 



Some of these communities include wide areas of mono- 
specific coral stands, notably of Pocilloponi and Moiuipora. 
It was assumed, until the mid-1990s, that there were few 
significant coral communities off the coast of Socotra, but 
recent surveys have shown extensive areas of high live coral 
cover. These are best developed on the northern reaches of 
both Socotra and the neighboring islands, where some 
240 hard coral species have been recorded, making them 
among the most diverse reefs in the Indian Ocean region. 
Widespread mortality of corals was reported at some 
locations following the 1998 bleaching event, but other 
locations showed little or no impacts and recovery, with 
rapid growth of new recruits, was reported in 2000. 

Human impacts on the reefs in Yemen are still 
relatively minimal, other than from fishing. Much of the 
coastline in southern Yemen is undeveloped, although 
Aden is a major port, with associated pollution and 
problems of solid waste disposal. The country is quite 
reliant on fisheries, and has an active offshore pelagic 
fishery in the Gulf of Aden. Illegal fishing by Yemeni boats 
is also reported from northern Somalia. Reef fishing has 
developed and is widespread around Socotra, including an 
artisanal lobster fishery. Efforts are now underway to 
develop a tourist industry on Socotra. 



Djibouti 



This country has some of the best developed reefs outside 
the Red Sea, including fringing reef communities along 
parts of the mainland coast, and fringing and platform 
structures around the reefs and islands of Maskali and 
Musha and the Sept Freres just south of the Bab el Mandeb. 
Surveys in 1998 and 1999 described 167 coral species, while 



■K Djibouti W 


HI 


General Data 






Population (thousands! 




i51 


GDP (million US$1 




493 


Land area (km^l 




21 638 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




7 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year| 


3 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




100 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^) 




A50 


Coral diversity 




69/325 


Mangrove area (km^) 




10 


No. of mangrove species 




1 


No. of seagrass species 




na 



^^^^^^^ Oman 




General Data 




Population (thousands) 


2 533 


GDP (million US$) 


16 298 


Land area (km^l 


2 328 


Marine area (thousand km^j 


539 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


na 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%| 


51 


Recorded coral diseases 


2 


Biodiversity 




Reef area [km^l 


530 


Coral diversity 


71 /128 


Mangrove area (km^l 


20 


No. of mangrove species 


1 


No. of seagrass species 


na 



2S0 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name Designation 

Djibouti 



Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm'! Year 



Maskali Sud 


Integral Reserve 


IR 


la 


na 


1980 


Musha 


Territorial Park 


TP 


Unassigned 


na 


1972 


Oman 












Daymaniyat Islands (OmanI 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


IV 


200.00 


1995 



coral cover was highly varied, typically over 20 percent and 
reaching 90 percent in the Sept Freres. Some of the reefs 
were reported to have been significantly impacted by the 
1998 bleaching, with an estimated 30 percent mortality. 

The main economic activity of Djibouti is the 
operation of the main port, and coral reef areas around it 
are thought to be heavily degraded. Fishing is not a major 
activity, although there is an important artisanal fishery, 
with about 90 small fishing boats, together with about 15 
larger (10-14 meters) vessels in the late 1990s. A limited 
amount of tourism with a coastal focus and some diving on 
the offshore islands was also taking place in the late 1990s. 

Northern Somalia 

Along the northern coast, reef development is sporadic, 
however there are reefs and coral communities in various 
locations, including wide monospecific stands of Acropora 
in a few areas. Rapid surveys of this coast in 1999 found 
some 74 scleractinian coral species. The best developed 
reefs are fringing structures and patch or platform reefs in 
the area around Saad ed Din and other islands close to 
Djibouti. Some of the reefs further to the east, near Berbera, 
were reported to have suffered very extensively from 
bleaching and mortality as a resuh of the 1998 bleaching 
event, while there was also evidence of crown-of-thoms 
starfish impacts during surveys in 1997 and 1999. 

The northern coast of Somalia still has only a sparse 
human population and coastal resources are regarded as 
very healthy, although there is a minor nearshore fishery 
and an opportunistic sharkfin fishery. Further utilization of 
the fish resources, which may include benthic species, is 
the result of illegal fishing from Yemen. A more significant 
offshore trawl fishery has also been reported. 

Southern Somalia's reefs are described in Chapter 7. 

Oman 

Much of Oman's southern coastline and sub-tidal waters 
are dominated by sand, although there are rocky outcrops. 



notably around Ras Al Hadd and the offshore islands of 
Masirah and Al Halaniyat (Kuria Muria). The best 
developed coral communities and small reef formations are 
found in four main areas: the Musandam Peninsula: some 
of the shores and bays of the coast around Muscat and the 
Daymaniyat Islands: the western coast of Masirah Island 
and the adjacent mainland: and the sheltered rocky areas of 
coast around the Al Halaniyat Islands and mainland of 
Dhofar. Coral growth is restricted both by the cool water 
upwellings and by the availability of hard substrates. Coral 
communities with high coral cover but often low diversity 
have been noted in several areas, including communities 
dominated by Porites spp., Pocillopora damicornis and 
Acropora spp. In the Gulf of Masirah near continuous reefs 
dominated by Monlipora foliosa have been estimated to 
cover more than 25 square kilometers. There have been 
some natural impacts to coral communities in Oman, 
including storm damage and some predation by crown-of- 
thoms starfish. Extensive bleaching and associated 
mortality of shallow corals occurred in Dhofar in 1998, 
although little or none was observed in other areas. 

Human impacts, by contrast, are considerable. Oman 
has a fairly developed coastline and fishing is widespread. 
Overfishing is probably only a localized problem on the 
reef communities, but damage from anchors and fishing 
gear, together with fishing-related litter, presents much 
greater problems. One survey found that between 25 and 
100 percent of all the coral on Pocillopora damicornis reefs 
surveyed in 1996 was damaged by abandoned nets. There 
is also a significant abalone fishery operating from the 
southwest of the country. Abalone are only collected for two 
months of the year, with total yields of around 35-45 tons 
per year in the early 1990s. Recreational diving occurs in a 
few places but remains at low levels. Pollution from 
terrestrial sources, or indeed from the very high volume of 
tanker traffic in the region, is minimal and not thought to 
be impacting reef communities. Oman is one of the few 
countries in the wider region to have moved towards an 
integrated system of coastal zone management and has 
begun to designate a system of marine protected areas. 



Middle Eastern Seas 



251 



Arabian Gulf: 

United Arab Emirates, Qatar, 

Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran 



MAP9e 




The Arabian Gulf is a vast shallow marine basin 
which has formed on the northeastern and eastern 
edge of the Arabian tectonic plate. Unlike the Red 
Sea, it receives considerable riverine input at its northern 
end from the Shatt al Arab waterway which is formed from 
the Tigris, Euphrates and Karun Rivers. In addition there 
are a number of rivers flowing from the Zagros Mountains 
in Iran. On average the Gulf is only around 35 meters 
deep, and at its deepest point in the southeast it only 
reaches about 100 meters. During the last glacial maxima 
this entire area dried up and all marine life was 
extinguished. The large rivers at this time would have 
continued to flow along the eastern edge of the area and 
out through the Straits of Hormuz. Climatically this is an 
extremely harsh region. Most of the Gulf is sub-tropical, 
and the surrounding arid land masses drive extremes of 
temperatures, with air temperatures frequently reaching 
50°C in the summer, but falling to 0°C in the winter. The 
shallow water does little to ameliorate these fluctuations 
and most nearshore waters range between 10 and 39°C 
through the year. Winds further influence temperatures 
quite considerably, and can also deliver large quantities 
of sediment. Despite the high riverine input this is a 
very saline basin - riverine input plus rainfall contribute 



the equivalent of 15-50 centimeters of water depth per 
year, but levels of evaporation range from 140 to 500 
centimeters so that salinities are typically 40%o, but often 
reach 70%o or more in enclosed embayments. The gen- 
eral pattern of current circulation is one of a counter- 
clockwise flow. Lighter, less saline, waters enter from the 
Gulf of Oman and flow north along the coast of Iran, then 
down the eastern shores of the Arabian Peninsula. As eva- 
poration increases the salinity and density of the water, so 
it sinks, and there is actually an outflow at deeper levels 
of more saline water through the Straits of Hormuz not 
unlike that occurring in the Red Sea. Circulation is greatly 
restricted in the embayments of the Gulf of Salwah and 
the shallow waters off the United Arab Emirates, driving 
massive evaporation and even more extreme environ- 
mental conditions. 

The benthic surfaces of most of the Gulf are 
featureless soft sediments, dominated by muds in the 
north and east and carbonate sands in the south and 
west. There are several areas of rocky shore, both on the 
mainland and offshore islands. Fringing and patch reefs 
have developed in a number of places. In many areas the 
division between true reefs and carbonate structures with 
little active coral growth is blurred and there are quite a 



Left: The Arabian GulflSTS052-153-13l 19921. Right: A school of yellowspot emperor Gnathodentex aurolineatus. Coral reef 
diversity is generally low in the Arabian Gulf 



MAP 96 




Middle Eastern Seas 



^^^^^ United Arab Emirates 




General Data 






Population (thousandsl 




2 369 


GDP (million US$1 




/il /i98 


Land area Iknn^l 




78 982 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




52 


Per capita fish consumption 


[kg/yearl 


29 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




65 


Recorded coral diseases 




3 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




1 190 


Coral diversity 




30/68 


Mangrove area (km^l 




30 


No. of mangrove species 




1 


No. of seagrass species 




1 



few shallow structures which may be of reefal origin, but 
do not appear to be accreting structures at the present 
time. One feature common across much of the region is 
the periodic decimation of reef communities during 
occasional cold water events which may arise through a 
combination of cold upwelling and wind-driven cooling 
on already cool winter temperatures. During the 1997-98 
El Nifio event, coral bleaching was recorded at a number 
of localities, with considerable coral mortality in shallow 
waters near several countries. 

In human terms the most important natural resource in 
the region is oil, with almost two thirds of the worlds 
proven oil reserves located in the Gulf and adjacent land 
areas. This has had an enormous influence over the 
envirormient of the region, including the construction of 
numerous oil platforms, but more importantly the release of 
massive quantities of oil into the marine environment. Prior 
to the Gulf War in 1991 the waters of the Arabian Gulf 
already had the worlds highest concentrations of hydro- 
carbons. Much was the result of ballast water discharge 
from tankers (20 000-35 000 tankers pass through the 
Straits of Hormuz annually). Further release comes from 
accidents on the oil platforms and deliberate releases as a 
result of war. The Nowruz blow-out, a direct result of the 
Iran-Iraq war, released an estimated 500 000 barrels of oil. 
Even so, this was greatly surpassed by the Gulf War in 
1991, when total releases were of the order of 6-1 1 million 
barrels. Somewhat surprisingly the ecological impacts of 
this pollution may not be as great on coral reefs as might be 
expected. For the most part there is no direct physical 
contact with corals, and hence the smothering of corals was 
somewhat limited. The longer term effects of oil on coral 
growth and reproduction (see Chapter 2) may be a little 




more difficult to ascertain however, and may be combined 
with other environmental stresses. 

Fishing is another important industry in the region, 
with a large industrial trawl fishery which targets shrimp 
during the open season and finfish for the rest of the year. 
For the most part these are targeted away from coral areas. 
The shrimp fisheries were heavily affected by the Gulf 
War and shrimp stocks collapsed to only 1 percent of 
their pre-war biomass. Other fisheries are small-scale 
commercial or artisanal. typically operating from small 
craft and dhow and using line and trap fishing methods. 
Although this region was once famous for its pearl oyster 
fishery this has largely closed with the influx of cultured 
pearls. There is now a growing recreational fishery which 
may have an impact on reef communities in some areas. 

Reef-based tourism is virtually non-existent in the 
region, although there is a small amount of recreational 
diving among local and expatriate residents, some of 
whom are actively involved in environmental protection 
and rehabilitation. Although there is a strong interest in 
the environment in a number of these countries and a 
significant number of marine protected areas have been 
proposed, only a few have actually been declared, and only 
one of these includes coral reefs. 



United Arab Emirates 

The nearshore waters of the western parts of the United 
Arab Emirates are shallow, with relatively low water 
circulation, and some of the highest salinities in the Gulf 
Although there are seagrasses, these waters are unsuitable 
for coral growth. Further offshore there are patch reefs 
and fringing reefs around many of the islands. Diversity is 



The island of Bahrain, together with platform reef structures. Active coral growth is limited to only small areas of these 
platforms l5T5078-7i8-11. 19961. 



254 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



low in all areas and many coral communities are domi- 
nated by large monospecific stands. Mortality associated 
with coral bleaching events has been considerable, with 
over 98 percent loss of Acropora in 1996 on reefs near 
Abu Dhabi, and loss of most of the remaining colonies 
during the 1998 bleaching event. 

Qatar 

There are fringing reefs along the north and east coasts, with 
coral communities growing on the coastal shelf to the east, 
but no real reef structures. Further offshore there are a 
number of platform reefs. In the far southwest the Gulf of 
Salwah is highly saline and unsuitable for coral growlh. 
Shallow reefs to the east of Doha were reported to have 
undergone mass mortalities as a result of the 1998 coral 
bleaching event, with losses of up to 100 percent of 
Acropora colonies. 

Bahrain 

There are no true fringing reefs in this country, but to 
the north and east there are a number of quite extensive 
platform reef structures. Diversity and coral cover were 
generally low, while coral bleaching events in 1996 and 
1998 led to mortalities of 85-90 percent of the living coral 
on many offshore reefs. Over 70 kilometers north of the 
main island, Abul Thama is a small raised platform with 
relatively high coral cover of about 25-30 percent. 
Surrounded by deeper water (50 meters), these corals 
largely survived these bleaching events. 

Bahrain is an industrialized nation. Trawl fisheries 



undoubtedly had a major impact on offshore ecosystems, 
and probably impacted a number of coral reefs, until the 
industry was closed in 1998. Onshore land reclamation has 
been considerable in the north and west, and there are 
proposals to reclaim land on Fasht Adham, a large offshore 
reef area in the east. Industrial effluents are significant, 
and nearshore waters are routinely dredged, with a major 
impact of increased sediments on the surrounding reefs. 

Kuwait 

Kuwait's reefs are largely located in the southern part of 
the country, and are dominated by platform and patch 
reefs along the coast from Kuwait City to the border with 
Saudi Arabia, and with some fringing reefs around 
offshore islands. Most active reef growth occurs in waters 
shallower than 10 meters. 

There are considerable impacts on these reefs from 
various human activities. Perhaps the most direct are 
problems of overfishing, solid waste disposal and wide- 
spread anchor damage. These reefs were also among those 
most directly impacted by the oil spills from the Gulf War. 
although this did not cause the mass mortalities which 
were expected by many. 



Iran 

Very little information is currently available describing reef 
communities off the coast of Iran. Fringing reefs are known 
to occur along parts of the mainland and particularly around 
some of the offshore islands, including Kharg and Kharko 
Islands in the north and several other small islands to the 





Qatar 


Bahrain 


Kuwait 


Iran 


General Data 










Population (thousands) 


74/i 


63^ 


1 97i 


65 620 


GDP (million US$1 


8 530 


5 308 


28 111 


716 326 


Land area (km^) 


11 U3 


612 


16 984 


1 62/, 774 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


31 


8 


5 


206 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/yearl 


10 


U 


11 


5 


Status and Threats 










Reefs at risk (%| 


66 


82 


93 


88 


Recorded coral diseases 














Biodiversity 










Reef area (km^l 


700 


570 


110 


700 


Coral diversity 


na/68 


na/68 


30/68 


na/68 


Mangrove area (km'l 


<5 


1 


na 


207 


No. of mangrove species 


1 


1 


na 


2 


No. of seagrass species 


na 


na 


2 


na 



Middle Eastern Seas 



Protected areas with coral reefs 


K Site name Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN »i. Size ikm'i 


Year 


Iran 


Sheedvar Island Ramsar Site 




8.70 


1999 


Saudi Arabia 


Dawat Ad-Dafl/Dawat Protected Area 
Al-Musallamlyah/Coral Islands 


PA 


Unassigned 2 100.00 


na 





south. Some 35 coral species have been recorded from 
around Hormuz Island. As Iran has the deepest and least 
saline waters of the Gulf, it seems likely that further research 
may reveal new reef areas and considerable biodiversity. 

Fishing is an important industry. From 1989 to 1995 
there was a near doubling of the number of fishing vessels 
to more than 9 000. although fish catches did not show 
similar increases. Efforts to control the effects of trawling 
may actually have led to an increase in the impacts on 
coral reef species. There is also an ornamental fish trade. 



notably operating from the free trade areas of Kish and 
Qeshm Islands. Other human impacts, considerable in 
major industrial areas in the northwest and around Kish 
and Qeshm. include sedimentation and pollution, together 
with solid waste and anchor damage. Around Kish Island, 
algal overgrowth of corals in the late 1990s has been 
attributed to increased nutrient levels. The narrow waters 
around the Straits of Hormuz are among the busiest tanker 
lanes in the world, representing an ongoing threat to the 
southernmost reefs. 




Left; Large groupers are still sold in (he fish marl<ets of the Arabian Gulf. Right, above: Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. 
These waters have some of the highest salinities in the Gulf, and wide areas are unsuitable for coral growth ISTS080-707-77. 
19961. Right, below: The port of Dammam in Saudi Arabia, showing intensive coastal development lSTS078-7i8- 10. 19961. 



25* 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Selected bibliography 



REGIONAL SOURCES 

Coles SL 119881. Limitations on reef coral development in the 
Arabian Gulf; temperature or algal competition, Proc 6th Int 
Coral Reef Symp 2: 211-216. 

Girdler RW (1984). The evolution of the Gulf of Aden and Red 
Sea in space and time. Deep Sea Res Part A 31: 747. 

MEPA, lUCN leds) 11987a). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series, 7. Red Sea and Arabian Gulf. Saudi 
Arabia: An Assessment of National Coastal Zone 
Management Requirements. Meteorology and Environmental 
Protection Administration, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia. 

MEPA, lUCN ledsl 11987b). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series, h Red Sea. Saudi Arabia: An Analysis 
of Coastal and Marine Habitats of the Red Sea. Meteorology 
and Environmental Protection Administration, Riyadh, Saudi 
Arabia. 

MEPA, lUCN leds) 11987c). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series, 3: Red Sea. Saudi Arabia: An 
Assessment of Coastal Zone Management Requirements for 
the Red Sea. Meteorology and Environmental Protection 
Administration, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Pilcher N, Alsuhaibany A 120001. Regional status of coral reefs 
in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In: Wilkinson CR led). 
Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2000. Australian Institute 
of Marine Science, Cape Ferguson, Australia. 

Randall E (1983). Red Sea Reef Fishes. Immel Publishing, 
London, UK. 

Roberts CM, Dawson Shepherd AR, Ormond RFG 11992). 
Large-scale variation in assemblage structure of Red Sea 
butterflyfishes and angelfishes. J Biogeog 19: 239-250. 

Roberts CM, Polunin NVC 11992). Effects of marine reserve 
protection on northern Red Sea fish populations. Proc 7th Int 
Coral Reef Symp 2: 969-977. 

Sheppard CRC, Sheppard ALS 11991). Corals and coral 
communities of Arabia, Fauna of Saudi Arabia 12: 1-170. 

Sheppard C, Price A. Roberts C (1992). Marine Ecology of the 
Arabian Region: Patterns and Processes in Extreme 
Tropical Environments. Academic Press, London, UK. 

UNEP/IUCN (1988). UNEP Regional Seas Directories and 
Bibliographies: Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 2: Indian 
Ocean. UNEP and lUCN, Nairobi, Kenya, Gland, Switzerland 
and Cambridge, UK. 

Vine P (1986). Red Sea Invertebrates. Immel Publishing, 
London, UK. 

The sources listed above also cover the the following sub- 
sections of this chapter: Northern Red Sea: Egypt, Israel, 

Jordan; Saudi Arabia; Central Red Sea: Sudan; Southern Red 

Sea: Eritrea and Yemen, 



case studies from Arabia. In: Lloyd D, Done TJ, Diop S leds). 
Information Management and Decision Support for Marine 
Biodiversity Protection and hluman Welfare: Coral Reefs. 
Australian Institute of Marine Science and United Nations 
Environment Programme, Townsville, Australia. 

DeVantier LM. Turak E, Al-5haikh KA, Death G (in press). 
Coral communities of the central-northern Saudi Arabian 
Red Sea. Fauna of Arabia. 

van der Elst R, Salm RV (1999). Overview of the Biodiversity of 
the Somali Coastal and Marine Environment. Report 
prepared for lUCN Eastern Africa Programme and Somali 
Natural Resources Management Programme. 

Kemp J (1998). Marine and Coastal Habitats and Species 
of the Bir All area of Shabwa Province, Republic of 
Yemen. Recommendations for Protection. Report to the 
Environmental Protection Council of the Council of 
Ministers, Sana'a. 

Kemp JM (1998). Zoogeography of the coral reef fishes of the 
Socotra Archipelago. J S/ogeog 25: 919-934. 

Kemp JM (2000). Zoogeography of the coral reef fishes of the 
north-eastern Gulf of Aden, with eight new records of coral 
reef fishes from Arabia. Fauna of Arabia 18. 

Kemp JM, Benzoni F (1999). Monospecific coral areas on the 
northern shore of the Gulf of Aden, Yemen. Coral Reefs 18: 
280. 

Kemp JM. Benzoni F (20001. A preliminary study of coral 
communities of the northern Gulf of Aden. Fauna of Arabia 18. 

Kemp JM, Obura D (2000). Reefs of the Gulf of Aden and 
Socotra Archipelago, In: McClanahan T, Sheppard C, Obura 
D (edsl. Coral Reefs of the Western Indian Ocean: Their 
Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 
UK and New York, USA. 273-275. 

McClanahan T, Obura DO (1997), Preliminary Ecological 
Assessment of the Saad ed Dm, Awdal Region. iUCN Eastern 
Africa Programme, Nairobi, Kenya. 

Salm RV, Jensen RAC, Papastravou VA (1993). A Marine 
Conservation and Development Report: Marine Fauna of 
Oman: Cetaceans, Turtles, Seabirds, and Shallow Water 
Corals. lUCN-The World Conservation Union, Gland, 
Switzerland 

Schleyer M, Baldwin R (1999). Biodiversity Assessment of the 
Northern Somali Coast East of Berbera. Report prepared for 
IUCN Eastern Africa Programme and Somali Natural 
Resources Management Programme. 

Sommer C, Schneider W, Poutiers J-M (1996). FAO Species 
identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Living Marine 
Resources of Somalia. Food and Agriculture Organization of 
the United Nations, Rome, Italy 



SOUTHERN ARABIAN REGION: YEMEN, DJIBOUTI, 
NORTHERN SOMALIA AND OMAN 

Al-Jufaili S, Al-Jabri M, Al-Baluchi A, Baldwin RM, Wilson SC, 
West F, Matthews AD (1999). Human impacts on coral reefs 
in the Sultanate of Oman. Est Coast Shelf Sci A9 (Supplement 
A|: 65-74. 

Coles SL 11995). Corals of Oman. Keech, Samdani and Coles 
(private publication), UK. 

DeVantier LM, Turak E, Al-Shaikh KA, Cheung CPS, Abdul-Aziz 
M, Death G, Done TJ (2000). Ecological indicators of status 
of coral communities for marine protected areas planning: 



ARABIAN GULF: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, QATAR, 
BAHRAIN, KUWAIT, IRAN 

Carpenter KE, Harrison PL, Hodgson G, Alsaffar AH, 
Alhazeem SH 11997a). The Corals and Coral Reef Fishes of 
Kuwait. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and 
Environment Public Authority, Kuwait. 

Carpenter KE, Krupp F, Jones DA, Zajonz U (1997bl. FAO 
Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: Living 
Marine Resources of Kuwait, Eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, 
Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Food and Agriculture 
Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. 



Middle Eastern Seas 



Coles SL 119881. Limitations on reef coral development in the 
Arabian Gulf: temperature or algal competition. Proc 6th Int 
Cora/ ffee^Symp 2: 211-216. 

Coles SL.FadlallahYH 119911. Reef coral survival and mortality 
at low temperatures m tfie Arabian Gulf: new species- 
specific lower temperature limits. Coral Reefs 9: 231-237. 

Fadlallah YH, Allen KW, Estudillo RA 119941. Damage to 
shallow reefs in the Gulf is caused by periodic exposure to air 
during extreme low tides and low water temperatures ITarut 
Bay, Eastern Saudi Arabia). In: Ginsburg RN led). 
Proceedings of the Colloquium on Global Aspects of Coral 
Reefs: Health, Hazards and History, 1993. Rosenstiel School 
of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, 
Miami, USA. 

McCain JC, Tarr AB, Carpenter KE. Coles SL 11984). Marine 
ecology of Saudi Arabia: a survey of coral reefs and reef 
fishes in the Northern Area, Arabian Gulf, Saudi Arabia. 
Fauna of Saudi Arabia 6: 102-126. 

MEPA, lUCN leds) 11987a). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series, 6: Executive Summary - Arabian Gulf. 
Saudi Arabia: An Assessment of Biotopes and Coastal Zone 
Management Requirements for the Arabian Gulf. 
Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration, 
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

MEPA, lUCN leds) 11987b). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series, 7: Red Sea and Arabian Gulf Saudi 
Arabia: An Assessment of National Coastal Zone 
Management Requirements. Meteorology and Environmental 
Protection Administration, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

MEPA, lUCN leds) 11987c). MEPA Coastal and Marine 
Management Series. 5: Technical Report 5 - Arabian Gulf 
Saudi Arabia: An Assessment of Biotopes and Coastal Zone 
Management Requirements for the Arabian Gulf. 
Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration, 
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Pilcher NJ, Wilson S, Alhazeem SH, Shokri MR 12000). Status 
of coral reefs in the Arabian/Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea 
region. In: Wilkinson CR led). Status of Coral Reefs of the 
World: 2000. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Cape 
Ferguson, Australia. 

Price ARC 11990). Rapid assessment of coastal zone 
management requirements: a case-study from the Arabian 
Gulf. Ocean Shore Man 13: 1-19, 

Price ARG, Robinson JH leds) 11993). Marine Pollution 
Bulletin, 27: The 1991 Gulf War: Coastal and Marine 
Environmental Consequences. Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK. 

Sheppard C, Price A, Roberts C 11992). Marine Ecology of the 
Arabian Region: Patterns and Processes in Extreme 
Tropical Environments. Academic Press, London, UK. 

Map sources 
Map 9a 

Reefs are taken from Hydrographic Office 11954, 1984, 1994). 
Sources for these charts include some very old data, but also 
surveys from the 19B0s. 
Hydrographic Office 11954). Red Sea: Gezirat el Dibia to 

Masamirit Islet. British Admiralty Chart No. 138. 1:750 000. 

December 1954. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11984). El Akhawein to Rabigh. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 63. 1:750 000. September 1984. 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1994). El Suweis ISuez] to El Akhawein 

IThe Brothers) (including the Gulf of Aqabal. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 8. 1:750 000 and 1:300 000 lAqaba). 

December 1994. Taunton, UK. 



Map 9b 

Maps have been prepared for the Saudi Arabian Red Sea from 

lUCN/MEPA 11984, 19851. Further data have been taken from 

Hydrographic Office 11955, 1984, 19941 and these same 

sources, together with Hydrographic Office 11987, 19911 have 

been used to provide details of reefs in Sudan. 

Hydrographic Office 11955). Red Sea: Masamirit Islet to Zubair 
Islands. British Admiralty Chart No. Ul. 1:750 000. 
September 1955. Taunton, UK. 

Hydrographic Office 11984). El Akhawein to Rabigh. British 
Admiralty Chart No. 63. 1:750 000. September 1984. 
Taunton, UK. 

Hydrographic Office 11987). Outer Approaches to Port Sudan. 
British Admiralty Chart No. 82. 1:150 000. December 1987. 
Taunton, UK. 

Hydrographic Office 11991). Sawakin to Ras Qassar British 
Admiralty Chart No. 81. 1:300 000. June 1991. Taunton, UK. 
ISawakm inset not utilized.) 

Hydrographic Office 11994), El Suweis ISuezI to El Akhawein 
IThe Brothers) lincluding the Gulf of Aqabal. British 
Admiralty Chart No. 8. 1:750 000 and 1:300 000 lAqabal. 
December 1994. Taunton, UK. 

lUCN/MEPA 11984). Report on the Distribution of Habitats and 
Species in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea: Part 1. Saudi Arabia 
Marine Conservation Programme, Report No. 4. lUCN, 
Gland, Switzerland/Meteorology and Environmental 
Protection Administration, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
Includes numerous tables, photos, maps. 

lUCN/MEPA 11985). Distribution of Habitats and Species along 
the Southern Red Sea Coast of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia 
Marine Conservation Programme, Report No. 11. lUCN, 
Gland, Switzerland/Meteorology and Environmental 
Protection Administration, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
Includes numerous tables, photos, maps, annexes. 

Map 9c 

For Eritrea reefs are derived from Hydrographic Office 11955, 
1988, 1991, 1993). For Djibouti reefs are derived from 
Hydrographic Office 11985, 1991, 1992, 1993). Coral reef data 
for the former Yemen Arab Republic INorth Yemeni were 
obtained from lUCN 11987). Further data were derived from 
Hydrographic Office 11985, 1991, 19931. 
Hydrographic Office (1955). Red Sea: Masamirit Islet to Zubair 

Islands British Admiralty Chart No. 141. 1:750 000. 

September 1955. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11985). Straits of Bab el Mandeb to Aden 

Harbour. British Admiralty Chart No. 3661. 1:200 000. 

November 1985. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11988). North and northeast approaches to 

Mits'iwa. British Admiralty Chart No. 164. 1:300 000. March 

1988. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11991). Jazirat al Tair to Bab el Mandeb. 

British Admiralty Chart No. 143. 1:400 000. December 1991. 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1992), Golfe de Tadjoura and Anchorages. 

British Admiralty Chart No. 253. 1 :200 000. September 1 992. 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office 11993). Gulf of Aden. British Admiralty 

Chart No. 6. 1 :750 000. March 1 993. Taunton, UK. 
lUCN 11987). The Distribution of Habitats and Species along the 

YAR Coastline. lUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 

Map9d 

Coral reefs were added to a 1:1 000 000 coastline from lUCN 
[1 986, 1 988, 1 989). These maps only cover approximately half of 



Z5B WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



the coastline between the Yemen border and the center of 
Sawqirah Bay and from Ras ad Daffah to Sanmah. For the 
northern coastline of Somalia, reefs have been tal<en from 
Hydrographic Office 11992, 19931. 
Hydrographic Office (1992). Golfe de Tadjoura and Anchorages. 

1:200 000. British Admiralty Chart No. 253. September 1992. 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19931. Gulf of Aden. 1:750 000. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 6. March 1993. Taunton, UK. 
lUCN (19861. Oman Coastal Zone Management Plan: Greater 

Capital Area. Prepared for Ministry of Commerce and 

Industry, Muscat, Oman. lUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 
lUCN (1988). Oman Coastal Zone Management Plan: Ouriyat to 

Ras al Hadd. Prepared for Ministry of Commerce and 

Industry, Muscat, Oman. lUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 
lUCN (19891, Oman Coastal Zone Management Plan: Dhofan 

Volume 2: Resource Atlas. Prepared for Ministry of 

Commerce and Industry, Muscat, Oman. lUCN, Gland, 

Switzerland. 

Map9e 

Coral reef areas are based on Hydrographic Office [1989, 
1991a, 1991b and 199^;!. Some additional reef areas are based 
on Abbott (19941. 
Abbott F (19941. Coral Reefs of Bahrain (Arabian Gulfl. A draft 

report, prepared for the World Conservation Monitoring 

Centre, 
Hydrographic Office (19871. Jazireh-ye Lavan to Kalat and Ra's 

Tannurah. British Admiralty Chart No. 2883. 1:350 000, 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (19891. Musayid to Ra's Laffan. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 3950. 1 :1 50 000. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1991al, Ra's Tannurah to Jazirat Faylaka 

and Jazireh-ye Khark. British Admiralty Chart No. 2882. 

1:350 000. Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1991b|. Kalat and Ra's al Khafji to 

Abadan. British Admiralty Chart No. 2884. 1:350 000. 

Taunton, UK. 
Hydrographic Office (1994). Jazireh-ye Lavan and Jazirat Das 

to Ras Tannurah. British Admiralty Chart No. 2886. 

1:350 000. Taunton, UK. 



Southeast Asia 259 



Chapter 10 
Southeast Asia 




Southeast Asia, with its complex coastline 
and mass of tightly interlocking islands, 
straddles the worlds greatest zone of 
coral reef biodiversity. Although reef deve- 
lopment is rather restricted in a few areas, 
notably the Gulf of Thailand and the southern coastline 
of mainland China, for the most part coral reefs are 
well developed and numerous. Fringing reefs line the 
coasts of myriad islands, including many of the larger 
ones, and parts of the mainland. There are also 
extensive, though often poorly known barrier reefs, 
while in the deeper waters of the South China Sea and 
towards the east of the region there is a considerable 
number of oceanic atolls. 

There is a great paucity of information about 
many areas. Barrier reefs off the coastline of Sumatra, 
Sulawesi and Palawan as well as the reefs off 
tvtyanmar and eastern Indonesia have received little 
attention from the scientific community. 

It has been suggested that biodiversity may have 
remained, or even accumulated, in this region at the 
same time that Pleistocene extinctions were occurring 
in other parts of the world. This is an area which 



maintained a relatively equitable climate for coral reef 
development right through the last glaciation, possibly 
providing a refuge for numerous species. At the same 
time the massive fluctuations in sea level may have 
isolated pockets of coral reef diversity, allowing 
evolution to follow different paths so that, when 
species reunited, they had diverged, further adding 
to their diversity. Whatever the causes, this region 
harbors more species in almost every group of coral 
reef organism than any other part of the world. 

Unfortunately its reefs also face considerable 
difficulties, with some 82 percent estimated to be 
threatened by human activities in the recent Reefs at 
Risk report. 

Burgeoning human populations are overutilizing 
the resources In many areas, while wholesale des- 
truction of the forests on land, together with rapid 
urbanization. Is leading to massive loads of sediments 
and pollution on many reefs. While scientists may have 
little information about these reefs, most are well 
known to fishermen, and even the most remote reefs 
are threatened by overfishing and, particularly, by 
destructive fishing practices. 



Left: Southeast Asia harbors the highest levels of biodiversity of any coral reef region. Here the l<nobbly branches of 
Porites surround a foliose Montlpora coral. Right: Volcanoes such as Ivluria on Java are widespread IST5026-4 1 -86, 19981. 



MAP 10 



100° 



DEMOCRATIC 

PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

OF KOREA 



30VBHUTAN 




CHINA 



'■•^/"l 



/ 
lANGLADESH 



Bay of 
Bengal 

■ 



MYANMAR THAILAND 



^ 



ffil_. ■' CAMBODIA 




Basin 



INDONESIA- 



JA VA SEA 



■-^''Celebes J -'f 

r Basin ) • , , 






West Caro I i n . 
Basin 



j Cocot CKKlhs) Is. 
(AIISTRiuiAl •. 



Christmas I 

■.■"STRALIAI 



. /J 








Gulfof 
Carpentaria 



Basin 



Exmouth 
Plateau 



500 



1000 



1500 km 



N 



Southeast Asia 261 



Thailand, Myanmar and 
Cambodia 



MAP 10a 




ThSllSnd is a large country lying in the center 
of mainland Southeast Asia and extending far south 
along the Malay Peninsula towards the Malaysian 
border. The coastline is clearly divided into those sections 
which border the Gulf of Thailand and a shorter coastline 
on the Andaman Sea. The Gulf of Thailand is a shallow 
semi-enclosed sea, generally less than 60 meters in depth. 
It is heavily sedimented, particularly in the north and west, 
but highly productive. The tidal systems are diurnal, while 
monsoonal weather exerts the predominant influence on 
reef development. In the northeast much of the coast is 
affected by riverine runoff and there are some large 
mangrove communities, but fringing reefs have developed 
away from riverine inputs, and there are quite a number 
of islands with important fringing reef communities 
offshore. In the northwest the coastline is indented into the 
Bight of Bangkok where there is massive riverine input 
from four major rivers and large reef structures do not 
occur, although coral communities are reported in a few 
places, particularly around the offshore islands. More 
reefs occur on the eastern shores of Thailand (the western 
shores of the gulf). These are largely around offshore 
islands, with limited developments around the islands of 
Prachuab Kirikhan and more extensive ones around the 



western shores of the islands of Chumphon and on all 
sides of the islands near Sural Thani. In all areas the 
relatively harsh physical conditions have restricted reef 
diversity, and coral numbers in the Gulf of Thailand are 
far lower than in surrounding regions. 

The coastline facing the Andaman Sea is somewhat 
different. The continental shelf lies about 200 kilometers 
offshore in the south, although only some 50 kilometers 
offshore around Phuket. This coastline is heavily affected 
by the contrasting influences of the strong Southwest 
Monsoon (May-October) driving onshore winds and 
rough conditions, while during the Northeast Monsoon 
(November-April) conditions are generally very calm. 
This coastline has the largest areas of mangroves in 
Thailand, and there are also extensive coral reefs, 
particularly along the shores of the numerous offshore 
islands. The degree of reef development appears to be 
related to distance from shore and level of exposure. 
Fringing communities are generally better developed on 
the eastern coasts of the islands. Extensive reef structures 
are reported from the Adang Rawi group in the south and 
around the Surin Islands, a southerly extension of the 
Mergui Archipelago. The majority of reef research in 
this country has been focussed around Phuket and the 



Two spot-naped butterflyfish Chaetodon oxycephalus on a shallow reef. This species feeds primarily on coral polyps. 



MAPloa 




93" 



Q aSKtwa 

Borong^Is. 
WunbaikRFo .Kyaukpyu 

^~- Ramreel. 



96° 



99° 



x:^ 



^--' "} 



LAOS 



MYANMAR 



\^3 



• PyJnmana 



• Thayetmyo 



Oieduba I. 



"t 



• Taungup 



• Toungoo 



Bay of Bengal 



Nantha Kyun ' 



S 

-1 



le- 



- -^-^j^^^' 

Thamihia Kyun ;* ' *L^ ^ , 

(Diamond Island) GS -y Ayeyamady 
Delia 
o 
Preparis North Channel 
■ Preparis I. 




Moulmein 



'■<■ Wiao lam Pi - Hat Thai Muang NP 




THAILAND 



™ SlrinaOtNP- , kdYm. . 

Ci \ ,.< ■ r Yai .•[:.•;■ 




i^Nopharat rt^KoPhiphiDon 



thara - hAuKo 

Kd Mai thou' Phi Phi NP ■■■li 



MuKoi' 
tai) 







9 18 27 I 



3 



Andaman Is. 
(INDIA) Jjt 1 



Pr^faris Sotith Channel 

yi Great Coco I. 
Little Coco I. 



ANDAMA 
Wandur NP Narcondam I. 



V4 

Moscosls. (I 
A^ SEA " 

Moscos 1 
Island GS' 



\ 



THAILAND 



Nakhon 
Ratchasima 



) 




■..!.:.I.:.1-.1.-.1.'.-.:^.:.;.:.I..*.?1 '.l.-;''/.!.: 
Great ^wintinl^- ^ j^ '.•.'.■'.■'.':■ '^\'. 

' ■ ■ ^<*>f.v' ! • r'- : ■ : ■ ! ■ >> ■ . 

Lou^boroughC ^^i-:; ■.-.y.-: v ■■'■■■ " Saddle L 

McQmhyi/Ji': jj: ; : : j 

StewaitL^«'C8vem;t : '• 




\ ■yiHaslillgsL 

StAndrort ,■ . SlLuke'sl S i TP t. 






KoOiaiigi 



10 20 30 km 



BnjerL KoPhayam ..^- 



■••:-f-;. 






•Me<gul 



Metgui 
Archipelago 



\ Bight , 

Bangkok ^ 
Sattahlp*< 

Wiao Sant 
Roi Yot NP 

• Prachuab Khlrtkhan 
' Hat Vanakom NP 



Chon Burt 

K/iaoL 

Mu Ko Samaf 



K/iao Lasm Via - > 



13° 



^ 



KoChang^ ' 

Chang NP ') \ 



_ vChumphon 



Gulf 

of 

Thailand 



T3| 

Ko-* '^S 



't' J^ jg^*^""^ Mu Ko^^ Ko Tao 

. Thong -.._ 

,^U>en, -^P.. ^KoPhaogan 

Mu Ko ■* ''SonNP } 

SurinNP > l m' ^' 

MuKo ' « ■ S ''-SuramianI 

Simian--' , • , ., , , „ 

: ' Nakhon Si 

' ^ : I Thammarat 



QuanPhu 
Quoc 



10° 




KoSamui 



40 80 120 160 200 km 



96° 



Pulau Singa FoR 
Pulau Tuba FoR 
Pulau Segantang MP ■■'' 
Pulau Kaca MP 

99° 



ThaleSapNHA 

,- Tanjung Dagu FoR i 

■ ..-■ Selat Panchor FoR 

y,^.*^- Pulau Jimun FoB 

PaSnl, \ . I 

,. Pulau L/mbu MP 

... Pulau 1 
PayarMp :,^, > 

vt-\r 



102° 



Southeast Asia 



263 







coastline of the Andaman Sea. Early reef research into 
coral bleaching was conducted in these waters, and the 
reefs of Ko Phuket, which have adapted to high sediment 
loads, are also of considerable interest. The 1998 
bleaching event did not appear to affect reefs in the 
Andaman Sea, though bleaching was widespread in the 
Gulf of Thailand where it had not previously been 
recorded, and up to 60 percent of corals were reported to 
have been affected. 

Pressures on much of Thailand's coastal zone are 
considerable. Sedimentation is a significant problem for 
reefs in many areas, but particularly on the mainland 
coasts. The Gulf of Thailand also has a major trawl 
fishery. Although this does not directly impact any true 
reefs, it is likely to have destroyed or degraded small coral 
communities which may have existed in the open waters 
of the gulf Most of Thailand's fisheries are concentrated 
on offshore stocks, which are believed to have been 
overfished since the 1970s. In addition, many reefs are 
utilized for fishing as well as for shell and aquarium fish 
collection. There have been problems of destructive 
fishing in some parts, although this is believed to have 
declined. Some coastal fisherfolk are also now becoming 
involved in tourism-based activities. In the Andaman Sea, 
sea gypsies are responsible for some target species fishing 
and collection for the aquarium trade. It has been esti- 
mated that over 50 percent of coastal mangrove forests 
have been destroyed, largely for conversion to shrimp 
ponds and for coastal development. Many of the shrimp 




farms were poorly designed and have since been 
abandoned, leaving vast areas with neither farms nor the 
previously highly productive forest areas. Efforts are now 
underway to restore some of these, although with little 
success so far. Mangroves are still being cleared, but the 
rate of loss has now diminished. 

Tourism now exerts a considerable influence on reef 
communities and is probably the most significant reef 
use in many areas. Unfortunately much of this has been 
associated with negative impacts. Construction of roads 
and buildings has led to problems with siltation and 
pollution. Anchor damage, direct tourist damage and even 
collection of corals and shells may be having further 
impacts. It has been estimated that over 40 percent of 
Thailand's reefs lie within marine national parks, and the 
Department of Fisheries has been running a coral reef 
management program since 1995 focussed towards 
research, training and public eduction to further the 
protection of reefs outside these areas. Efforts are 
continuing to establish mooring buoys at all popular 
dive locations. 



Myanmar 

Extending from a northern border with Bangladesh to 
Thailand in the south, Myanmar has a considerable coast- 
line along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The 
northern coast is bounded by the Arkan mountain range 
which extends down to the Arkan Peninsula and then 



Left: Bangkok is one of many sprawling cities in (he region producing vast quantities of sediments and pollution ISTS059-235- 
31, 1994i Rigfit: Thailand's once extensive mangrove forests liave been widely replaced by agriculture and prawn farms. 



264 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




continues below sea level, re-emerging to form a number 
of small islands north of the Andaman Islands (India). 
There is a wide level area of coastal plain in the center 
of the country, dominated by the Ayeyarwady (formerly 
Irrawaddy) river delta, a large sediment-laden river 
associated with relatively rapid coastal progradation. In 
the southeast the coastal plain is again narrow, backed by 



the Tenasserim Range of mountains. Offshore there are 
two major island groups: the Moscos Islands to the north 
and the vast complex of islands forming the Mergui 
Archipelago in the south. 

There is remarkably little information in the scientific 
literature describing the reef communities of this country, 
but it seems likely that those on the nearshore islands in 





Thailand 


Myanmar 


Cambodia 


General Data 








Population (thousands! 


61 231 


41 735 


12212 


GDP (million US$1 


136 773 


33 665 


1 187 


Land area (km^l 


515 139 


669 813 


182 602 


Marine area (thousand km^l 


252 


513 


20 


Per capita fish consunnption 
(kg/year) 


33 


17 


9 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk (%l 


96 


77 


100 


Recorded coral diseases 











Biodiversity 








Reef area (knn^l 


2 130 


1 870 


<50 


Coral diversity 


238 / 428 


77/277 


na/337 


Mangrove area (km^l 


2 641 


3 786 


851 


No. of mangrove species 


35 


24 


5 


No. of seagrass species 


15 

-WW 


3 


1 



Snapper taking shelter among mangroves at high tides. Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago includes important areas of 
relatively undisturbed reef and mangrove. 



Southeast Asia 



265 



Protected 


areas with coral reefs 










Site name 




Designation 


Abbreviation 


tUCN cat. 


Size [km'] 


Year 


Myanmar 


Lampi 




Marine National Park 


MNP 


II 


3 890.00 


1994 


l^oscos Island 




Game Sanctuary 


GS 


Unassigned 


i9.21 


1927 


Thailand 


Ao Phang Nga 




National Park 


MP 


II 


400.00 


1981 


Hat Chao Mai 




National Park 


NP 


II 


230.86 


1981 


Hat Noptiarat Thara - Mu 


Ko Phi Phi National Park 


NP 


II 


389.96 


1983 


Khao Laem Ya - Ml 


Ko Samet National Park 


NP 


V 


131.00 


1981 


Khao Sam Roi Yot 




National Park 


NP 


II 


98.08 


1966 


Mu Ko Ang Thong 




National Park 


NP 


Unassigned 


102.00 


1980 


Mu Ko Chang 




National Park 


NP 


II 


650.00 


1982 


Mu Ko Lanta 




National Park 


NP 


II 


134.00 


1990 


Mu Ko Libong 




Non Hunting Area 


NHA 


III 


447.49 


1979 


Mu Ko Petra 




National Park 


NP 


II 


494.38 


1984 


Mu Ko Similan 




National Park 


NP 


II 


128.00 


1982 


Mu Ko Surin 




National Park 


NP 


II 


135.00 


1981 


Sirinath 




National Park 


NP 


II 


90.00 


1981 


Tarutao 




National Park 


NP 


II 


1 490.00 


1972 


.^m^ 



the south of the country and around the islands north 
of the Andamans are extensive and diverse. The Mergui 
Archipelago consists of over 800 islands, most of which 
are uninhabited, and many remain forested. Reefs are best 
developed on the outermost islands, and are thought to be 
similar to those around the offshore islands of Thailand. 
Over 100 kilometers offshore from the southern part of 
the Mergui Archipelago lie the Burma Banks, a series of 
seamounts which rise up from over 300 meters to flat tops 
some 1 5-22 meters below the surface and are reported to 
have significant hard coral cover. The chain of small 
islands between the Ayeyarwady Delta and the Andaman 
Islands is little known but likely to have some interesting 
and important coral communities. Reefs are also reported 
at some of the islands off the Bay of Bengal coast and up 
to the border with Bangladesh. 

Myanmar has been a relatively closed country for 
a number of years and coastal development has been 
slow, particularly away from the capital. While there is 
undoubtedly some utilization of reef resources by local 
people, the pressures are considered to be quite low and 
the reefs in the south of the country are noted for their 
significant numbers of large fish, including sharks. At 
least two marine protected areas have been declared, but 



there are concerns that resident populations may have 
been mistreated or displaced for the establishment of these 
sites. Tourism is growing relatively rapidly since arrange- 
ments were made for dive vessels to enter the country 
in 1997 (via the coastal port of Kawthoung, close to the 
Thai border), and there are now several vessels operating 
in the area. Development of the islands themselves has 
not yet begun. 

Cambodia 

Cambodia has only a relatively short coastline facing the 
Gulf of Thailand, though there are several small islands in 
the adjacent waters. There is very little material available 
describing the coral reefs off this coastline, but there are 
known to be coral communities on the mainland coast and 
some fringing reef structures around the islands. Some 70 
hard corals have been recorded at the Koh Tang island 
group and in a few places coral cover is reported to reach 
over 50 percent. On the mainland diversity is much lower, 
and communities are dominated by massive and en- 
crusting corals. Bleaching was reported at a number of 
localities in 1998, but recovery is thought to have been 
fairly good. 



266 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Malaysia, Singapore and 
Brunei Darussalam 



MAPS 10b and c 




MalaySid is a large country split into two land 
areas: Peninsular Malaysia and east Malaysia. 
The latter, comprising the states of Sarawak and 
Sabah, is located along the northern and western edge of 
the island of Borneo. All of these areas are located on the 
Sunda Shelf, although the edge of this continental shelf 
comes relatively close to the land around Sabah. 

Although Peninsular Malaysia has a relatively high 
relief its coastline, particularly in the south and west, is 
dominated by low-lying land and mangroves or former 
mangrove areas. Offshore a number of small islands are 
important for reef development. These include the Pulau 
Langkawi group in the northwest. Pulau Semblian in the 
west, and the Pulau Tioman and Pulau Redang groups in 
the east. East Malaysia also has a very high relief, although 
in the west there is a generally wide coastal strip with 
extensive wetlands and mangrove development. Further 
east, and particularly in Sabah, the coastline is more 
complex and indented, with a generally narrow coastal strip. 
Again, a number of offshore island groups are important 
for reef development, particularly around Sabah. 

The region's climate is largely determined by the 
opposing monsoon systems. During the Northeast 
Monsoon (November-March) winds are driven from the 



northeast bearing moist air and typically driving higher 
rainfalls, as well as high seas, particularly on the north 
and east coasts of Sabah. During the Southeast Monsoon 
(May-September), typically drier air flows from the 
southwest. In the Strait of Malacca there is a permanent 
current flowing to the northwest, while surface currents 
are more variable over much of the rest of the region, 
largely following patterns of wind circulation. 

There is relatively little reef development along the 
mainland coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but reefs occur 
around all the offshore islands. Conditions for reef 
development are generally poor in the Strait of Malacca, 
however there are small low diversity reefs on the main- 
land close to Port Dickson. There are also reported to be 
some minor mainland fringing communities on the east 
coast between Kuala Terengganu and Chukai. 

Reef development is highly restricted off the coast 
of Sarawak, although there are some reefs around the 
offshore islands of Pulau Talang and Pulau Satar. The 
most extensive reef development in the country is in the 
waters around Sabah. which is the region with the highest 
diversity and optimal conditions for reef development. 
This is close to the global center of coral reef diversity. 
Around the southeast coast there are extensive fringing 



A feather star on the reef slope in one of east (Malaysia s marine parks. 



MAP 10b 




Kepuiauan^ 
Anambas " 



SINGAPORE 
46 



26 
9S 



HJnako^ 



Sumatra 
INDONESIA 



^ , SINGAPORE 

nc>S Singapore Strait 



INDIAN 

OCEAN 



Piiii S.J ^ 

KepuJauan • ^ ' 
Batu % 



Siberut Strait 

■>..,, 



Sibervt Nature Reserve 
: Biosphere Resenre 



.Sibenit 



fc 



Padang 




Kepulauan 
Lingga 



^7^ -^''- 



Djambi 



No. Protected Area Name 
Indonesia 

1 BertakNP 36 Pulau Chebeh MP 

2 Bukit Bahsan Selatan NP 37 Pulau EKor Tebu MP 



Gunung teuser NP 
Karang Gadlng Langkat 
Timur Lau GR 
Kelompok Hutan Bakau 
Pantai Tim NR 
6 Kepulauan Banyak RP 



38 Pulau Goal MP 

39 Pulau Harimau MP 

40 Pulau Hujung MP 

41 Pulau Jahat MP 

42 Pulau Kaca MP 

43 Pulau Kapas MP 



7 Pulau Anak Krakatau NR 44 Pulau Kechil FoR 



8 Pulau Berkeh NR 

9 Pulau Dua NR 

10 Pulau LautNR 

1 1 Pulau Sangtang NR 

12 Pulau WehRP 

13 Ujung Kulon NP 

14 WayKambasNP 
Malaysia 

15 Balok Mangrove FoR 

16 Banjar North FoR 

17 Banjar South FoR 

18 Bebar Mangrove FoR 

19 Beserah FoR 

20 Cape Rachado FoR 

21 Cherating Mangrove FoR 59 Pulau Pinang MP 



V^ 



/«.■< 



Berbak 
Ramsar Siti 



3ipora 



Mentawai 
Is. 



"N 



%. 



\ Pagai Ultra 



Keluang a 



■A 



•^agai Selatan 



45 Pulau K^ng FoR 

46 Pulau Kukup FoR 

47 Pulau Labas MP 

48 Pulau Lang Tengah MP 

49 Pulau Lembu MP 

50 Pulau Lima MP 

51 Pulau Lumut FoR 

52 Pulau Mensirip MP 

53 Pulau Mentinggi MP 

54 Pulau Nyireh MP 

55 Pulau Payar MP 

56 Pulau Pemanggil MP 



74 Pulau Tenggol MP 

75 Pulau Tiga FoR 

76 Pulau Tlmun FoR 

77 Pulau Tinggi MP 

78 Pulau Tioman MP 

79 Pulau Tloman WR 

80 Pulau Tokong Bahara MP 

81 Pulau Tongkok FoR 

82 Pulau Tuba FoR 

83 Pulau Tula! MP 

57 Pulau Perhentian Besar MP 84 Rompin Mangrove FoR 

58 Pulau Perhentian Kecil MP 85 Segari Melintang VJR 



22 KamparFoR 

23 KaparFoR 

24 Kemaman FoR 

25 Kuala Bemam FoR 

26 Kuala Sedili FoR 

27 Kuala Selangor NaP 

28 Kuala Selangof WR 

29 Kuala Sepang For 

30 Pangkor (North) VJR 

31 Pantai Acheh FoR 

32 Pontian Mangrove FoR 

33 Pulau Aur MP 

34 Pulau Besar MP 

35 Pulau Che Mat Zin FoR 



60 Pulau Pintu Gedong FoR 

61 Pulau Rawa MP 

62 Pulau Redang MP 

63 Pulau Segantang MP 

64 Pulau Selat Kering FoR 

65 Pulau Sembilang MP 

66 Pulau Sepoi MP 

67 Pulau SIbu MP 

68 Pulau SIbu Mujung MP 

69 Pulau SInga FoR 

70 Pulau Sri Buat MP 

71 Pulau Susu Dara MP 

72 Pulau Tengah FoR 

73 Pulau Tengah MP 



86 Selat Panchor FoR 

87 Sungal Miang 
Mangrove FoR 

88 Sungei Buloh FoR 

89 Sungei Dusun WR 

90 Tanjung Dagu FoR 

91 Tanjung Gelang FoR 

92 Tanjung Hantu VJR 

93 Tanjung Tuallang FoR 

94 Tanjung Tuan VJR 
Singapore 

95 Labrador P 

96 Pasir Ris P 

97 Southern Islands MNA 

98 Sungei Buloh BS 







■^ 



^■yfy- 




' 9 



UJurtg Kulon National Park • 
& Krakatau National Reserve - 
World Heritage Site 



■ ■HmdJ 
SrraiA. 

1.3 - 

'A 




MAP IOC 



109° 



113° 



No. Protected Area Name 




BRUNEI 


8 BaluranNP 


18 Kepulauan Karlmun Jawa NP 


1 Labu (Productfve 


9 Banyuwangi GR 


19 Kepulauan SeribuNP 


Production) FoR 


10 BaweanGR 


20 Komodo NP 


2 Pelong Rocks WS 


11 CibantengNR 


21 KutaiNP 


3 Pulau Berambang NR 


12 CikepuhGR 


22 Lampoko Mample GR 


4 Pulau Punyit WS 


13 GiliMeno, Gill Air, 


23 Leuwang Sancang NR 


5 Pulau Siarau Nature 


Gill Trawangan RP 


24 Meru Betiri NP 


Reserve FoR 


14 Gunung Selok RP 


25 Muara Angke NR 


6 Setirong (Productive 


15 Karang Belong NR 


26 Nusa Banjng NR 


Production) FoR 


16 Kepulauan 


27 Pananjung Pangandaran NR 


INDONESIA 


Kapoposang RP 


28 Pleihari Tanah Laut GR 


7 BallBaratNP 


17 Kepulauan Karimata NR 


29 Pulau BokorNR 









■ + 



■^Tfr 



SULV SEA 



47 



. Louisa Reef 






Kota Kinabalu ^ 



82 „ 

79. .7^ '?' 85 






105 



93-56 78 ^^^ 



BANDAR SERI ?-!'-'^W'<t> Sabah 



59 



81. MALAYSIA 

c- 



£ i Natum 
^ f Besar 



SOUTH CHINA SEA 



St 



^-6^' 



83 



100 



106 



65. 



•94 



^ ^ Natuoa Salatan 



^ Anambas 
• ■■_ Archipelago ^^^^^ 

SEA Panjang' j-' Serasan 

T. Datu 
T- Blimbiug 



1 ° Tambelan 
Archipelago 



Natuna 
Archipelago 



BRUNEI 



.''96 



74 DARUSSALAM: 



50 



5' fiQ "" 

Pulau Talang "" 

9 86 90 "Z^ 

48 87 

-""■',■:,; '*9 

88 kuching ''' <'' 

7f 



Sarawak 
MALAYSIA 





..-£empom&.'1&*i 

^ 162; \ 
92 84 



SULA WESI 
SEA 



MangkalihaTVv^ ' 
Pemnaila >^ .. 



Karimata 
Strait 



: V 



B ->^ O R 



B 



Kalimantan 
INDONESIA 



y Santan 



Makassar 



fMahakam 
Delia 



Strait 



Bangka 



Karimata >iZt 



5- 






Belitun^ ' 



« .' 



^., 

T. Sambar 41 " 



X. Pengujan 



T.Pudh ^42 



3J> 



30 


Pulau Dua NR 


36 


Pulau Rambut NR 


43 


Teluk Baron NR 


31 


Pulau Kaget NR 


37 


Pulau Sangalaki RP 


44 


Teluk Kelumpang/ 


32 


Pulau Kembang RP 


3S 


Pulau Semama GR 




Selat Laut/Selat 


33 


Pulau Moyo HP 


39 


Pulau Sempu NR 




Sebuku NR 


34 


Pulau Moyo RP 


40 


Sukawayarig NR 


4S 


Tujuh Belas Pulau NR 


3b 


Pulau Noko & 


41 


Tanjung Keluang RP 


46 


Wijaya Kusuma NR 




Pulau Nusa NR 


42 


Tanjung Puting NP 


A7 


Abai MFoR 



T. Selatan 




4/ 

.^Ballkapan 



M' 



/ 



Sunda 

Barrier ^ 
Reef *^' 



L 



I 



22 



28 



25'^AKART^ 



Karimuniawa ' 
elago 



Karimunia 
Archipelaj 



Sunda Shelf 

'^ Keramian 

o 

o Masalembo 



76l^j*; 



.1 

9 



18 



10' 



Bawean 
35 



Bogor 






* Bandung 
23 



J A VA SEA 
, Muria (Volcano) 



KranilauaD 

KahiKalukuang 

Greater Sunda Is. 

Kepul 
Sabali 



% . 



lulauan 



15 



90 



180 



27 



270 



M'- 



46 



360 



Java 
INDONESIA 

43 



450 km 



.erS"'". 






Surabaja * 



■ Bandung 



39 



Kangean '•* 

~ "■ * Sapudi 

8 



28 24 



•a- 



.•«» 7 



"«< ■ ' : West Nusa 

Kepulauan Xenggaia 







Blambangan 
Peninsum 



Lombok 
L e s s e 



/ >• 20 
Surnbawa^****/^' ^> ^ ■ 
Sunda Is 























f, Smnba 




MALAYSIA 


60 


Kayangeran FoR 


71 


Matang HR 


84 


Pulau Sipadan BS 


97 


Sulaman Lake MFoR 


48 


Bako CFo 


61 


Klias PFoR 


12 


Mengalong VJR 


85 


Pulau Tlga P 


98 


Sungai SugutPaJtan, 








62 


Kota Belud BS 


73 


Menumbok MFoR 


86 


Pulau Tukong Ara-Banun WS 




Pulau Jambongan MFoR 




bU 


Batang Jemoreng PFo 


63 


Kuala Bonggaya 


M 


Niah FoR 


87 


Rajang Mangrove FoR 


99 


Tabawan.Bohayan. 




b1 


Batang Lassa PFo 




and Kuala Labuk MFoR 


lb 


Padas Damit AFoR 


88 


Sampadi FoR 




Maganting.Stlumpat Islands 




b2 


Batumapun Mangrove VJR 


64 


Kuala Segama and Kuala 


76 


Paltan CFoR 


89 


Samunsam WS 


100 


Tabin WR 




b3 


Bengkoka PFoR 




Mamap MFoR 


77 


Pulau Batik VJR 


90 


Sarawak Mangrove FoR 


101 


Tanjong Kelepu CFo 


11° 


b4 


Benkoka Penninsular MFoR 


6b 


Kuala Tlngkaya MFoR 


78 


Pulau Bertiala VJR 


91 


Selangan Island PFoR 


102 


Tanjong Nagas PFoR 




bb 


Bonggaya CFoR 


66 


Kudat and Manjdu MFoR 


/9 


Pulau Kuraman MP 


92 


Sempoma MFoR 


103 


Tawau MFoR 




bB 


Elopura MFoR 


6/ 


Kulamba WR 


80 


Pulau Penyu (Turtle Islands) P 


93 


Sepilok (Mangrove) VJR 


104 


Tmsan Kinabatangan MFoR 






Gum Gum AFoR 


66 


Lahad Datu MFoR 


81 


Pulau Rusukan Besar MP 


94 


SibuB Mangrove FoR 


in.'i 


Tunku Abdul Rahman P 




be 


Gum Gum MFoR 


69 


Loba Pulau PFo 


82 


Pulau Rusukan Kecil MP 


95 


Sibyte MFoR 


106 


Umas Umas VJR 




b9 


Kabili Sepilok VJR 


/U 


Maludam FoR 


83 


Pulau Sakar VJR 


96 


Similajau NP 









109° 



113° 



117° 



Southeast Asia 



269 



reefs and a small barrier reef. Offshore from the town of 
Semporna lie a number of islands of volcanic origin with 
extensive reef developments. Just off the continental shelf 
lies Pulau Sipadan, a small coral cay with a surrounding 
reef with high coral cover and diversity. Further north, 
onshore reef development is restricted, but there are 
fringing reefs around the Turtle Islands. Off the north and 
west coasts, and particularly around the offshore islands, 
there are significant areas of fringmg reefs. Over 200 
kilometers off the west coast of Sabah there is a coral 
atoll, Layang Layang, with high biodiversity, although 
coral cover on the outer slopes was only recorded at 29 
percent. Overall. some 346 species of scleractinian coral 
have been identified in Malaysian waters. The impact of 
the 1998 bleaching appears to have been highly varied, 
but no widespread mortalities were recorded. At the same 
time, declines in coral cover were noted throughout east- 
ern Malaysia in the decade up to 1999, linked to various 
anthropogenic impacts. 

Marine fisheries are an important economic activity 
for Malaysia, with the majority of them commercial and 
focussed towards non-reef species using trawl and purse 
seine. Traditional fishing methods account for about a 
quarter of the total catch, only some of which is reef- 
dependent, and overfishing is not generally regarded as 
a major threat. There is significant destructive fishing, 
notably using explosives, and particularly off the coast of 
Sabah where more than four blasts per hour have been 
recorded in several areas. Perhaps the most significant 
threats to reefs arise from onshore activities, notably the 
high degree of sedimentation from logging activities and 
the sedimentation and pollution associated with industry. 




agriculture and urban development. Tourism development 
has also had impacts, through the construction of accom- 
modation and associated infrastructure, but also through 
direct damage caused by anchors and divers. Development 
on Layang Layang. initially to establish a presence, but 
subsequently with the construction of a tourist resort, has 





Malaysia 


Singapore 


Brunei 
Darussalam 


General Data 








Population Ithousandsl 


21 793 


4 152 


336 


GDP (million US$1 


70 402 


60 363 


4 034 


Land area Ikm^l 


330 278 


526 


5 770 


Marine area (thousand km^) 


351 


1.4 


9 


Per capita fish consumption 
(kg/year) 


53 


na 


22 


Status and Threats 








Reefs at risk 1%) 


91 


100 


100 


Recorded coral diseases 











Biodiversity 








Reef area (km^j 


3 600 


<100 


210 


Coral diversity 


281 / 568 


176/186 


na / na 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 


bklk 


6 


171 


No. of mangrove species 


36 


31 


29 


No. of seagrass species 


12 


11 


4 



Deforestation and forest fires fiave led to large increases in sedimentation in Sarawak and otfier parts of f^alaysia 
IST5093-708-62. 19991. 



270 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



reportedly caused significant damage to parts of the reef 
In an effort to further protect coral reefs, marine parks 
have recently been established by the Department of 
Fisheries in the offshore waters surrounding 38 islands, 
with considerable restrictions, including on fishing, 
anchoring of boats, and disposal of sewage or solid waste. 
Although detailed management structures are not yet in 
place for the majority of these sites, their growing value 
for tourism is increasing interest in their protection. 



Singapore 



Although a relatively small country, Singapore's coral 
reefs have received considerable scientific attention. 
Singapore consists of one large and some 50 small islands 
off the southern coast of the Malay Peninsula, separated 
from the mainland by the narrow Johor Strait. The 
southern edge of the country faces the Singapore Strait 
which connects the Strait of Malacca with the Java Sea. 

Fringing reef communities are found around many of 
the southern islands, despite the typically relatively turbid 
waters, and 197 species of hard coral have been identified in 
the country. Percentage coral cover is variable, but as much 
as 76 percent was recorded in the 1980s. Unfortunately, 
however, there appears to be a steady ongoing decline in 
coral cover, and most reefs lost up to 65 percent between 
1986 and 1999. During the 1998 bleaching event around 
90 percent of all corals bleached and about 25 percent 
died, including significant quantities of soft corals. 

The main island is highly developed, and large areas 
of fringing reefs have been directly destroyed by land 



reclamation. Although the remaining reefs lie between one 
of the world's busiest ports and one of the world's busiest 
seaways, many reef communities remain. Sewage and 
industrial waste treatment is relatively good although 
increasing sediment loads appear to be taking their toll. 
Average visibility has apparently diminished from 12 
meters in the 1960s to about 2 meters, and mean coral 
cover appears to be decreasing at most localities. 

Brunei Darussalam 

Brunei is another relatively small country located on the 
north coast of Borneo between Sarawak and Sabah. Much 
of the country inland remains forested and several rivers 
flow into the South China Sea. On the Sunda Shelf 
offshore the waters remain relatively shallow. There are 
no fringing reefs on the mainland, but the development 
around Pelong Rocks and Pulau Punyit may be considered 
fringing reefs. The majority of coral growth occurs on 
sub-littoral patch reefs and coral communities offshore, 
and some 185 scleractinian corals from 71 genera have 
been recorded. 

Brunei also claims Louisa Reef, an atoll formation 
which is one of the southernmost of the Spratly Islands 
(see page 287) some 200 kilometers to the north of the 
country. Despite their proximity to onshore development as 
well as offshore oil drilling operations, these reefs are 
considered to be in good condition and among the least 
threatened in the region. There has been very little 
commercial exploitation, and land-based sources of 
sediment and pollution are relatively low. 



T- 


Protected 


areas with 


coral reefs 






Mj 


f 


Site name 




Designation 


Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm:) 


^ 




Malaysia 














Bako 




National Park 


NP 


1 27.28 


1957 




Pulau Ayr 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 97.45 


na 




Pulau Besar 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 84.U 


na 




Pulau Chebeh 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 U.92 


1999 




Pulau Ekor Tebu 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 40.06 


na 




Pulau Goal 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 45.70 


na 




Pulau Harimau 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 49.00 


na 




Pulau Hujung 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 52.36 


na 




Pulau Jahat 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 45.20 


na ': 




Pulau Kaca 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 42.50 


na 




Pulau Kapas 




Marine Park 


MP 


1 21.33 


na 






mmm£^ 








^mmd 



Southeast Asia 



271 



Protected areas 


with coral reefs 










H Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikm'l 


Year 


Pulau 


Kuraman 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


66.95 


na 


Pulau 


Labas 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


a.78 


na 


Pulau 


Lang Tengah 


Marine Parl< 


MP 


II 


61,50 


na 


Pulau 


Lembu 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


46.13 


na 


Pulau 


Lima 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


43.90 


na 


Pulau Mensirip 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


46.60 


na 


Pulau 


Mentinggi 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


43.99 
14.40 


na 

na 


Pulau 


Nyireh 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


Pulau 
Pulau 
Pulau 


Payar 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


54.91 


1999 


Pemanggil 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


87.90 


na 


Penyu (Turtle Islands) 


Park 


P 


II 


17.40 


1977 


Pulau 
Pulau 
Pulau 


Perhentian Besar 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


91.21 


1999 


Perhentian Kecil 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


81.70 


na 


Pinang 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


48.90 


na 


Pulau 


Rawa 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


50.80 


na 


Pulau 


Redang 


Forest Reserve 


FoR 


Unassigned 


na 


na 


Pulau 
Pulau 


Redang 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


127.50 


1999 


Rusukan Besar 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


44.70 


na 


Pulau 


Rusukan Kecll 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


48.50 


na 


Pulau 


Segantang 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


44.19 


na 


Pulau 


Sembilang 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


60.60 


na 


Pulau 


Sepoi 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


44.57 


na 


Pulau 


Sibu 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


42.60 


na 


Pulau SIbu Hujung 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


11.83 


na 


Pulau 


Sipadan 


Bird Sanctuary 


BS 


Unassigned 


0.15 


1937 


Pulau 
Pulau 
Pulau 


Sri Buat 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


77.20 


na 


Susu Dara 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


14.28 


na 


Tengah 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


51.49 


na 


Pulau 


Tenggol 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


24.00 


na 


Pulau 
Pulau 
Pulau 


Tiga 


Park 


P 


II 


158.64 


1978 


Tinggi 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


101.8 


na 


Tioman 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


251.15 


na 


Pulau 


Tioman 


Wildlife Reserve 


WR 


11 


71.60 


1972 


Pulau 


Tokong Bahara 


Marine Park 


MP 


II 


45.13 


na 


Pulau 


Tulai 


Marine Park 


MP 


11 


63.05 


na 


Tunku 


1 Abdul Rahnnan 


Park 


P 


II 


49.29 


1974 


Turtle 
Singa 
South 


Islands Heritage 


Protected Area 


PA 


Unassigned 


1 368.44 


1996 


pore 












ern Islands 


Marine Nature Area 


MNA 


na 


9.80 


1996 


■^HB 




^^■^B - ;~S 






mamir..- 


.-'-^snH 



272 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Indonesia 



MAPS 10b, c, d and e 




Indonesia is the world's largest coral reef nation, with 
over 50 000 square kilometers of reefs (18 percent of 
the world total), extending nearly 5 000 kilometers 
from east to west, and harboring over 17 000 islands 
(including rocks and sandbanks). It touches on both the 
Indian and Pacific Oceans as well as many seas, including 
the Andaman, Java, South China, Sulawesi, Banda and 
Arafura Seas. This same country has a vast array of coral 
reefs, many poorly described or completely unknown, 
while It completely straddles the region with the greatest 
reef biodiversity in the world. For the purposes of this 
account the physical and biological descriptions are 
subdivided into a number of geographic sub-units, while 
human and socio-economic issues are considered together 
for the entire country. 



Sumatra and Java 

The western end of the Indonesian islands includes 
Sumatra and Java which, with Kalimantan, are located on 
the Sunda Shelf, a vast continental shelf e.xtending across 
a considerable part of the South China Sea. Both are 
continental islands, but with the boundary between the 
Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates lying off their 



southwestern and southern boundaries, there are numerous 
volcanoes. The continental shelf lies relatively close to the 
shore on the western side of Sumatra and south of Java. 
Some distance off the west coast of Sumatra and off the 
continental shelf, lies the long chain of the Mentawai 
Islands. Off the east coast of Sumatra there is a complex 
of smaller islands at the southern end of the Strait of 
Malacca, the Riau Archipelago. Further south, towards the 
Java Sea, Bangka Island lies just off the Sumatra coastline 
and Belitung Island lies midway between Sumatra and 
Kalimantan. There are a few small islands north of Java, 
while Bali lies immediately to the east. Bali, unlike the 
other islands which continue in a chain to the east, is still 
located on the Sunda Shelf The western side of Sumatra 
is heavily mountainous, with only a narrow coastal plain. 
In contrast the eastern side is low-lying and there is 
considerable riverine input all along this coastline. Java is 
very mountainous in its entirety, although the coastal plain 
is a little wider to the north and it is here that the most 
considerable riverine runoff occurs: rates of coastal pro- 
gradation in the Solo Delta have been measured at 
70 meters per year. The coastal waters of both eastern 
Sumatra and northern Java are generally quite turbid. 
Weather and water conditions are largely determined 



Left: Jakarta produces considerable quantities of sediment and pollution. The impacts of these on coral cover and 
diversity decline with distance across the reefs of Kepulauan Seribu ISTS056- 155-242, 19931 Right: A great diversity of fish 
and corals in Bali Barat National Park. 



MALAYSIA <£^^ 
ftiiLi V*l/1» Archipelago 



MAP lOd 



PHILIPPINES 



124° 
PHILIPPINES 



Kepulaun 
iTKarali 



127° 



Kepulaun 
Nanusa 




Karxaralong 



7" , ''^='°°8^ I Kepulauan 



SULA WESI SEA 

(CELEBES SEA) 



3uVf.^ 



Talaud 
Kabuniang 



Kepulaun ^'^^ 
Sangir 



i^ 



Siau INDONESIA „^ 

Pulau Bunaken NR ^^'^' n^ ), 

Tahulandang -^ , Oi. //MoTOtai 



Bunaken NP 



Biaio 



Makassar 
Strait 



( •« 



:,/ 



Arakan 

Dolangan GR ,, o Wowontulap ■. . Bangka 

,«* ■' Tangkoko 

r \ _ /" BatuangusNR 

^' ~-*' -~ ^ ^-'^ -^ Minahassa ' 

Popalo ' Peninsula 
: ^'j^.PanuaNR 




5£-4 






..^.....^ UnaUna 

',' Taniuna .vr l^.Togianls. ^ 

\ A^'tm u>;^ ^J^ Patl-PatlGR 

Tomini Bay , ' ,^^~^^ ^^ 

■( ;•, ->• r- "^ i* 

' BakiriangGR "^ 

"* -> .w'' / •/ Pelcng , 

» -^ '^, 

r.-'' Kepulauail*>^. '"-^ i, • V Sula '~^-'~ — ^5^-° 



TemateL. "^V ( ff^ 

TWo^V Halmaher&^-v*-, > 
Motio , , "» 



Bacan 



\-.^. 



' '^ ' k;^ 



Obi 



Gebe^ ^^ 



Kapiua i . 



3° "" Lampoko 



Sulawesi 
INDONESL\ 



Momwali NR 



>,S- 



Misooi'^TT 
KepulauanSula , ', Sulab«i SERAM SEA Misool Selatan NR 



Pulau Kasa 
RP and GR 



-' Mampie GR J^ js^y j ^<W 




rc) 1 



Tanjung 
Peropa GR 

Tanjung 
"Amelango GR 



Wangiwangi 



Bum 



BANDA SEA 



it P 



.K 



Manusela NP- ' ^ 



Oo 



^/^l? %» 



Napabalano NR "v^' Btaogto 

Batuata ' r — ' — ' — 



Pulau Pombo 
NRandRP 

Taman Laut Banda RP i.J 
Gunung Api Banda RP : ' 



Kepulauan 
WakatoblNP 



pulauan 
Sabalana 
.-^Sabalana 



Take Bone 
Rate NP 



Tanahjampea -r-^ 



^^^ Karompalompo 



FLORES SEA 



.f-'-J,. ■- 



FLORES SEA 



C 
"Sumbawa 



Teluk Maumere RP' 



Pulau ^ 
' LembataL Besar i *«""■ 
KepukuanSolar :. p , f^ JV ' 



o 



Gunung Api NR 
Kepulauan Barat Daya ,. 
Roma " 



i O- 



ic.™i ■" •'w*' T7i«™ v.-j'^ -"-> r^ C/'^',»C->-. Kepulauan Alor ~ •DILI 



Flores -^V^ 



X,'" — ■ . -.-^ -^ 

■ ■•. Komodo National Park 
World Heritage sue & 
Btosphere Reserve 

Smnba ^n East Nusa Tenggara 

SAWU SEA ^ , . rrii 

Teluk -rffy 

Kupang RPJ'i 



EASTTIMORy - j 



•^ Kepuli 
' Lei 



lulauan 
;ti 



. Nil»- 
* Layeni 



Masela^; 



■ Luang 
Ukenao 



. Timor ^•'^ 



INDONfESIA 



\.J> 



^ BenaHP Maubesi NR TIMOR 

> : : J SEA 



-"J 



Sawu 



-" Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary Ramsar Site 

Tanjung Oisina Mangrove Swamp GR 



Lesser Sunda Is 
121° 



^ir=-- Roti 



50 100 150 200 250 km 



124° 



127° 



MAP ioe 



^IZy^T 




Southeast Asia 




by the opposing monsoon systems. During the Nonheast 
Monsoon (December-March) winds over Sumatra pre- 
dominate from the northeast, bearing moist air and 
typically driving higher rainfalls. This air is deflected 
in southern Sumatra and out over the Indian Ocean and 
bears round such that Java is dominated by northwesterly 
and westerly winds. During the Southeast Monsoon 
(particularly June-July), typically drier air flows from the 
southwest across Sumatra, and from the southeast across 
Java. Patterns of surface water currents are largely driven 
by these winds and during the Northeast Monsoon currents 
from the northeast flow in and are largely deflected into 
southeast and eastward flowing currents along eastern 
Sumatra and northern Java. These are mirrored by longshore 
currents flowing south and east along the Indian Ocean 
shores of these islands. During the Southeast Monsoon 
some of these patterns are reversed, with strong westward 
flowing currents along the coasts of Java and deflecting 
northwards along the east coast of Sumatra. The west coast 
of Sumatra, by contrast, maintains a southeasterly flowing 
current all year round. In the Strait of Malacca there is a 
permanent current flowing to the northwest. 

Surprisingly little is known about the development of 
reefs around Sumatra. Fringing reefs are considered well 
developed in the north around Aceh and around the islands 
immediately north of Sumatra. They are are also likely to 
be widespread along much of the west coast of Sumatra 
facing the Indian Ocean - and have actually been recorded 
at the Mentawai Islands - but there is little published 
material describing the remainder of this coastline. 
Likewise this region is believed to support some extensive 
barrier reef systems: an 85 kilometer section is reported in 
the north, 20 kilometers off the coast of Aceh. This is a 
submerged or drowned system some 13-20 meters below 
the surface, but it is not clear to what degree it enjoys 
active coral growth. Further barrier reefs along the west 
coast of Sumatra are recorded with a combined length of 



660 kilometers, although these have been little studied and 
rarely mentioned in regional reviews. Reefs are thought to 
be poorly developed along the east Sumatra coast where 
there is significant riverine input and the coastline is 
dominated by large mangrove communities. Fringing reefs 
are widespread in the Riau Archipelago and 95 species 
of scleractinian coral have been recorded from Batam 
Island. Water conditions are highly turbid in this area, 
however, and coral co\er quickly diminishes with depth. 
Much further south around Belitung Island, fringing reefs 
have significantly higher diversities, presumably asso- 
ciated with more suitable conditions for reef development 
- 174 scleractinian species have been recorded. 

The fringing reefs around Java have received little 
attention despite their high accessibility (compared to 
much of the rest of the country). There are well developed 
fringing reefs surrounding the volcanic islands in the 
Sunda Strait. Although not marked on most charts, it 
has been suggested that there may be extensive reef 
development off the south coast of Java, but that classic 
reef flat and reef crest structures have not developed due 
to the extreme exposure and high energy environment. 
Fringing reefs are well developed around the Blambangan 
Peninsula and off the short east coast of Java, with reef 
flats reaching 200-400 meters in width, but these are again 
limited off much of the north coast. One of the best known 
reef comple.xes in the region is the Kepulauan Seribu 
patch reef chain, also known as the Thousand Islands. 
This is a group of almost 700 reefs lying in a chain just 
northwest of Jakarta Bay. Many have associated islands 
and most have shallow intertidal reef flats. The reef slopes 
are quite diverse and there appears to be an increase in 
diversity with distance from Java - 88 scleractinian 
species have been recorded at one of the southerly reefs, 
rising to 190 species in the north. Outbreaks of crown-of- 
thoms starfish in 1995 may have reduced diversity in these 
southern islands still further. 

Reefs are widely developed around the Karimunjawa 
Archipelago north of Java, and there are reported to be 
extensive fringing communities around Bawean Island on 
its eastern side. Fringing reefs are also well developed 
along the south coast of Bali and have a deep spur and 
groove formation associated with the high exposure along 
this coast. The 1998 bleaching event did affect the reefs 
around Bali, with over 75 percent bleaching in some areas. 
North of Java it appeared to be more varied and generally 
less significant. 

Kalimantan 

Much of the coastline of Kalimantan, or Indonesian 
Borneo, is low-lying and subjected to considerable 
riverine inputs. The Mahakam River, in particular, is noted 
for its high volume discharge and has been estimated to 



4 Batinese fishing boat. 



276 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




iB 10km 

produce 4-10 million tons of sediment annually, with a 
plume which may extend up to 400 kilometers southeast 
of the Mahakam Delta. Even between the river mouths, 
the shores are largely fringed by mudflats and there are 
extensive mangrove communities. The main island lies on 
the Sunda Shelf and hence is surrounded by extensive 
shallow, and often relatively turbid, waters. To the east, 
however, the continental shelf edge lies relatively close to 
the mainland. There are several nearshore islands and 
some much further offshore, notably the Anambas, Natuna 
and Tambelan Archipelagos on the border between the 
South China Sea and the Natuna Sea. The patterns of 
monsoon weather are similar to those described for 
Sumatra and Java, with Northeast Monsoons bnngmg a 
northeasterly airflow which is deflected around the south 
of Kalimantan such that the south coast actually receives 
a predominantly westerly flow. Surface water currents 
at this time mirror these winds. During the Southeast 
Monsoon airflows are predominantly from the southwest, 
however the surface water currents are a little different, 
flowing from the north along the east coast, then 
deflecting towards the west as they meet the south coast. 
Fringing reefs are absent from much of the main 
Kalimantan coastline, but do occur away from major areas 
of riverine input. They are thought to be well developed 
on the offshore continental islands, and also off the large 
headlands such as Tanjung (headland) Datu and T. 
Blimbing in the west, and T. Sambar, T. Putih, T. Pengujan 
and T. Selatan in the south. In the east, extensive reefs are 
recorded for 140 kilometers between T. Setan and T. 
Pamerikan, and again around the Mangkalihat Peninsula, 



while there is also an extensive fringing reef to the north 
of the Berau Delta. Offshore from the east coast lies 
Indonesia's longest continuous barrier reef system, the 
Sunda Barrier Reef, some 630 kilometers long, on the 
edge of the Sunda Shelf Despite its size and potential 
economic, social and biological importance, this reef is 
largely undescribed. The coral communities of the 
Anambas. Natuna and Tambelan Archipelagos have not 
been well studied, although well developed fringing reef 
communities have been recorded on charts of the area. 



Sulawesi and the Nusa Tengarra 

This region is sometimes referred to as Wallacea. and 
encompasses the islands of Sulawesi and the Nusa 
Tenggara Islands. It is an area of complex oceanography: 
all of the islands have narrow continental shelves and 
many are separated from one another by relatively deep 
waters. The geological history of this region is extremely 
complex, and there are active volcanoes all along the 
southern islands and in the northeast peninsula of 
Sulawesi. All of these islands are mountainous, but their 
relatively narrow widths mean that there are few major 
watersheds and riverine input is widely dispersed. Air 
circulation patterns generally follow those of Kalimantan: 
during the Northeast Monsoon northerly winds reach the 
north of Sulawesi, but are rapidly deflected, becoming 
westerly along the southern coast of Sulawesi and the 
Nusa Tenggara Islands, while this pattern is almost exactly 
reversed during the Southeast Monsoon. Surface currents 
flow permanently eastwards along the north coast of 
Sulawesi and permanently southwards along the west 
coast. Between Sulawesi and the Nusa Tenggara there is 
a strong east flowing current during the Northeast 
Monsoon, which is reversed during the Southeast 
Monsoon. South of Nusa Tenggara in the Timor Sea the 
currents flow permanently westwards. 

Conditions in this region are ideal for reef dev- 
elopment and there are extensive fringing reefs along the 
shores of most islands, including some near continuous 
stretches running for hundreds of kilometers along 
the coastline of Sulawesi. These are particularly well 
developed along the eastern arm of Sulawesi where reef 
flats are typically 100-200 meters wide. In other areas reef 
flats may be less than 20 meters wide, resulting in their 
omission from many marine charts. Further offshore a 
large number of barrier reef systems have been described 
with a total length of 2 084 kilometers.' Among the best 
known is the Spermonde Barrier Reef, which has a series 
of reefs leading towards the outer edge in a manner similar 
to the Great Barrier Reef - some 224 scleractinian corals 
have been described in this system. South of Peleng Island 
on the Banggai Platform there is another shelf-edge 
barrier reef system, the Banggai Barrier Reef This is of 



The Mahakam River produces vast quantities of sediment which inhibit coral reef development over a wide area ISTS050- 
97-65. 19921. 



Southeast Asia 



277 



particular interest because of the development of faros, 
circular atoll-like structures otherwise largely associated 
with the Maldives (Chapter 8). TheTogian Islands, located 
in the mouth of Tomini Bay in northern Sulawesi, lie in 
very deep water and boast a number of interesting reef 
formations including fringing, barrier and atoll reefs. The 
reefs of the Tomini Bay are some of the most biodiverse in 
the world, with an estimated 77 species of Acropora alone. 
The 1998 bleaching event appears to have had relatively 
little impact over much of this region, and little or no 
bleaching was recorded north and west of Sulawesi. 

There is little detailed information describing the reef 
communities of the Nusa Tenggara Islands, but fringing 
reefs are again widespread. Studies of Lembata Island in 
the center of the group show significant variation around 
the coastline. The northwest fringing reef is well developed 
with a 200-400 meter wide reef flat rich in seagrasses; this 
reef flat is even wider on the west coast. By contrast, the 
south coast has a narrower reef flat, which is fully exposed 
to Indian Ocean swell and may be further affected by 
cool water upwellings - a pronounced spur and groove 
structure is again noted, and a number of deep water 
species are found which may prefer cooler waters. North 
of these islands well developed barrier reefs are reported 
to occur northwest of Sumbawa and north of Flores. At the 
southern end of the Makassar Strait and in the Flores Sea 
there are a number of atolls, including the largest in the 
country: Kalukalukuang, Sabalana and Taka Bone Rate, 
each over 60 kilometers in length with complex atoll rims 
formed from individual patch reef structures separated by 
narrow and deep channels. In the western end of the 
Banda Sea there are, additionally, many smaller atolls. 



The Moluccas and Irian Jaya 

This final region, dominated by the coastline of Irian Jaya, 
also includes the complex island groups of the Moluccas to 
the west of Irian Jaya and a chain of small archipelagos 
along the south of the Banda Sea, stretching from Timor in 
the west to the Aru Islands in the east close to Irian Jaya. 
Overall this is another region of relatively complex 
bathymetry. Its waters are very deep, and even islands only 
a few tens of kilometers apart might be separated by depths 
of over 1 000 meters. The only areas of relatively extensive 
shallow water and true continental shelf are a platform 
west of the Bird's Head (Doberai) Peninsula and the wide 
expanse of the Arafura Sea, south of Irian Jaya and east of 
the Aru Islands. The latter largely lies above 100 meters in 
depth and is quite turbid, in marked contrast to the clear 
oceanic waters of much of the rest of the region. The 
coastline of Irian Jaya remains very poorly described. 
Large areas are low-lying and there is considerable riverine 
input, particularly along the south coast. The Bird's Head 
Peninsula is more mountainous. 



During the Northeast Monsoon, northwesterly winds 
cut across most of the region, while during the Southeast 
Monsoon southeasterly winds come up towards southern 
Irian Jaya and the southern Moluccas, but these are 
deflected to become westerly in the more northern areas. 
Surface currents are somewhat mixed in this region. 
However, a northward current flows between Irian Jaya 
and Halmahera and an eastward current flows along the 
north shore of Irian Jaya during the Northeast Monsoon. 
This pattern reverses during the Southeast Monsoon. 

Along the southeast coast of Irian Jaya wide areas are 
unsuitable for reef development: this coastline includes 
some of the largest mangrove forests in the world - those 
off the central coast and in Bintuni Bay may rival the area 
occupied by the Sundarbans forest between India and 
Bangladesh. There are reported to be fringing reefs along 
much of the higher coastal areas to the west. There is little 
or no information describing the reef communities around 
Bird's Head Peninsula. Along the rest of the north coast 
there are fringing reefs on all islands in Cendrawasih Bay, 
however the central and eastern coasts of this bay are 
dominated by mangrove forests and wide mudflats, and 
fringing reef systems have not developed. Further east, 
fringing reefs are believed to follow a large proportion of the 
coastline between Sarmi and the border with Papua New 
Guinea. For the most part these are poorly described, but 
reef flats are estimated to reach 300-400 meters wide in 
places. Further offshore, north of Irian Jaya, and also east of 
Halmahera, there are several small atolls. Off the east coast 
of the Aru islands there are vast fringing reefs, with shallow 
reef flats extending up to 15 kilometers from the coast. 



* <s 














/ '■"■' 


1 


vl.. 







■ ■ ■ M=i3M 110km 



Southern Sulawesi, with a number of reefs clearly visible IST5069-709-42, 19951. 



278 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 





Corals are also widespread in the narrow winding channels 
which separate these islands, despite the still and often turbid 
waters which are found here. Fringing reefs are also found 
on the west coast of these islands, particularly in the northwest. 

Socio-economic considerations 

Despite the vast area of the Indonesian Archipelago and 
the lack of detailed information about its reef communities, 
the majority of its coastal area is already heavily utilized, 
particularly in the west, and considerable areas are under 
increasing stress from human activities. About 6 000 of 
Indonesia's islands are inhabited, and marine and coastal 
resources and activities generate 25 percent of the 
country's gross domestic product. One study along the 
west coast of Lombok made a detailed assessment of 
coral reef value, particularly looking at fisheries 
production, but also at tourism, mariculture. ornamental 
trade and other resources. The estimated value of the reefs 
in the area was USS5 800 per hectare. This same coastline 
was utilized by 7 100 fishermen and over 35 percent of 
their fish catch came from coral reefs. 

Fisheries are a major activity, and it has been esti- 
mated that 60 percent of protein consumption is derived 
from fisheries. About 90 percent of all fisheries are 
artisanal. with products for local consumption or for sale 
in local markets. Unfortunately overfishing is widespread 
and is almost continuous in all regions from Sulawesi 
westwards. In addition a number of destructive fishing 
practices, blast and cyanide fishing amongst them, are 
employed in all areas, including many remote reefs and 
atolls. Blast fishing, in particular, is having an extremely 
detrimental effect across the country. Although illegal 
since 1985. few places have escaped it. even in protected 



areas. The total probable cost of this fishery to the country, 
in terms of long-term fishery losses and loss of tourist 
income, has been estimated at US$3 billion over the 20 
years from 1999. Indonesia is the largest supplier of live 
food fish to the Asian markets with large vessels operating 
among the more remote reefs, and mostly using cyanide 
(although illegal since 1995). Muro-ami fishing has 
significant impacts in a number of areas, including 
Kepulauan Seribu. This involves the use of large nets and 
large groups of fishers, often children, who swim with 
poles or rocks on ropes and smash the reef surface to 
frighten fish up into the nets. The impacts of trawling on 
submerged reef systems are less well known, in part 
because the location and extent of these reefs is unknown. 

Collection of fish and corals for export in the 
ornamental and aquarium trade is considerable. Indonesia is 
the world's largest exporter of corals under the regulations 
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered 
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Reaching well 
over 1 000 tons of coral per year in the early 1990s and now 
exporting around 500 tons per year. Indonesia has provided 
approximately 41 percent of all coral exports worldwide 
since 1985. These exports are relatively low on a unit-area 
basis because of the very large coral reef area in the 
country, but they may have localized impacts. 

Coastal development causes considerable problems, 
particularly in the western half of the country. Extensive 
deforestation has greatly exacerbated the natural influ- 
ences of freshwater and sediment discharge on reef growth 
and condition, and these impacts are continually expanding 
to new areas. Urban and industrial pollution is widespread, 
entering coastal areas through rivers and discharge pipes. 
In 1998 it was reported that there was no sewage treatment 
plant in any major coastal city. Agricultural development 



Left: A group of dominos Dascyllus trimaculatus taking sfielter In a large anemone under a gorgonian coral. Rigfit: Luang 
and Ukenao Atolls to ttie east of East Timor ISTS038-75-43. 19901. 



Southeast Asia 



279 



is leading to increased inputs of nutrients and chemicals, 
and their effects are now widely apparent. In a gradient 
across the Spermonde Archipelago, for example, there is a 
rapid decline in biodiversity and coral cover closely linked 
with proximity to the highly polluted coastline approach- 
ing Makassar. Coral cover at 68 kilometers distance from 
the town is over 65 percent, dropping to 14 percent at 
1.3 kilometers. Mangroves have been widely removed, 
oflen for the development of shrimp ponds, but also 
for commercial woodchip or pulp production, or due to 
general overe.xploitation by growing coastal populations. 
Coral mining is also common, with corals being used 
for various purposes including building (houses, road 
foundations, sea walls and jetties), to lime production (for 
mortar), and decorative use both within the country and 
for export. 

Tourism is now important in many areas, and is itself 
responsible for a range of problems, particularly associa- 
ted with the developments on small coral cays. Impacts 
include land reclamation, dredging of lagoons and man- 
grove clearance. A large number of the islands in Kepulauan 
Seribu have been modified in this way. At the same time 
tourism provides an alternate income source and may lead 
to the reduction of fishing pressures in some locations. 
Although there are many protected areas in Indonesia, they 
do not provide a good network for the vast area of reefs. 



Indonesia 




General Data 




Population Ithousandsl 


224 784 


GDP|millionUS$) 


161 32A 


Land area Ikm^l 


1 909 62/1 


Marine area Ithousand km-j 


6 121 


Per capita fish consumption |kg/y 


earl 18 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk l%l 


82 


Recorded coral diseases 





Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^l 


51 02D 


Coral diversity* 


443/581-602 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 


42 550 


No. of mangrove species 


45 


No. of seagrass species 


13 


■ The range provided for the upper figure 15 


due to uncertain 


biogeographic boundaries 





nor do they yet reach the 300 000 square kilometer goal 
set by the government for 2000. Most of the existing sites 
lack comprehensive management and, in many, their 
conservation value is reported to be rapidly deteriorating. 



Protected areas 


with 


coral reefs 




■ 


■ 


■ 


W Site name 


^^^ 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size ikn<>i 


Year 


Indonesia 


Arakan Wowontulap 




Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


138.00 


1986 


Bali Barat 




National Park 


NP 


II 


777.27 


1982 


Baluran 




National Park 


NP 


II 


250.00 


1980 


Bunaken 




National Park 


NP 


II 


890.65 


1989 


Dolangan 




Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


4.63 


1981 


Gili Meno/Gili Air/Gili Trawang 


an 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


29.54 


1993 


Gunung Api Banda 




Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


7.35 


1992 


Karang Belong 




Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


0.01 


1937 


Karang Gading Langkat Timur 


Laut 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


157.65 


1980 


Kepulauan Aru Tenggara 




Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


1 140.00 


1991 


Kepulauan Banyak 




Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


2 275.00 


na 


Kepulauan Kapoposang 




Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


500.00 


na 


Kepulauan Karimata 




Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


770.00 


1985 


Kepulauan Karimun Jawa 




National Park 


NP 


II 


1 116.25 


1986 


Kepulauan Padaido 




Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


1 830.00 


na 





WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas wi 


th coral reefs 










Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size lkm:| 


Year 


Indonesia cont. 


Kepulauan Seribu 


National Park 


NP 


II 


1 080,00 


1982 


Kepulauan Wakatobi 


National Park 


NP 


II 


13 900.00 


na 


Komodo 


National Park 


NP 


II 


1 733.00 


1980 


Leuwang Sancang 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


33.07 


1978 


Morowali 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


2 250.00 


1986 


Pananjung Pangandaran 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


/i.19 


1934 


Pati-Pati 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


35.00 


1936 


Pinjam/Tanjung Mantop 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


16.13 


1981 


Pulau Anak Krakatau 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


250.35 


1990 


PuLau Besar 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


30.00 


1986 


1 Pulau Bunaken 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


752.65 


1986 


Pulau Dua 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


0.60 


1984 


Putau Kasa 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


9.00 


1978 


' Pulau Kasa 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


11.00 


1978 


Pulau Moyo 


Hunting Park 


HP 


VI 


222.50 


1986 


Pulau Moyo 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


60.00 


1986 


Pulau Pombo 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


0.02 


na 


Pulau Pombo 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


9.98 


1973 


Pulau Rambut 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


0.18 


1939 


Pulau Sangalaki 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


2.80 


na 


Pulau Sangiang 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


7.00 


1985 


Pulau Semama 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


2.20 


1982 


1 Pulau Weh 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


39.00 


1982 


Sabuda Tataruga 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


50.00 


1993 


Take Bone Rate 


National Park 


NP 


II 


5 307.65 


1992 


Taman Laut Banda 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


25.00 


1977 


Tanjung Amelango 


Game Reserve 


GR 


IV 


8.50 


1975 


Teluk Kelumpang/ 
Selat Laut/Selat Sebuku 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


666.50 


1981 


Teluk Kupang 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


500.00 


1993 


Teluk Laut Cendrawasih 


National Park 


NP 


II 


U 535.00 


1990 


Teluk Maumere 


Recreation Park 


RP 


V 


594.50 


1986 


Tujuh Betas Pulau 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


99.00 


1987 


Ujung Kulon 


National Park 


NP 


II 


1 229.56 


1992 


Komodo National Park 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






1 735.00 


1977 


Komodo National Park 


World Heritage Site 






2 193.22 


1991 


Ujung Kulon National Park and 
Krakatau National Reserve 


World Heritage Site 






1 230.51 


1991 





Southeast Asia 281 



Philippines 



MAPS 10f and g 





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i 


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IR^. ^. 



The Philippines are a large and complex mass of 
over 7 000 islands making up the north of insular 
Southeast Asia. Together with Indonesia to the 
south, the Philippines lie in the center of global coral reef 
biodiversity and have a vast area of reefs. 

In the far north the archipelago commences with the 
Batanes and Babuyan Islands in the Luzon Strait, just south 
of Taiwan. The northern third of Luzon itself is highly 
mountainous and parts remain heavily forested, while the 
central parts are predominantly agricultural with large areas 
of low-lying land. Relatively close to Luzon are the islands 
of Mindoro and Marinduque. the former mountainous and 
still largely under forest. South of Luzon lies a complex 
mass of islands known as the Visayas, including Panay, 
Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar, centered around 
the Visayan Sea which, despite the tight configuration of 
islands, reaches a depth of more than 200 meters in some 
places. The southernmost major island is Mindanao, which 
lies separated from the Visayas by the Bohol Sea. This is 
another mountainous island, with a narrow shelf on all 
sides. The Philippines Trench to the east of Mindanao and 
Samar reaches depths of more than 10 000 meters at a dis- 
tance of less than 80 kilometers from shore. Stretching to 
the southwest from Mindanao is a chain of islands known 




as the Sulu Archipelago, coming close to the coastline of 
Sabah in Malaysia and separating the Sulawesi (Celebes) 
Sea in the south from the Sulu Sea to the north. There are 
several remote islands and atolls in the central Sulu Sea, 
while its northern edge is marked by the long mountainous 
island of Palawan as well as various smaller ones. 

The eastern side of the country borders the Philippine 
Sea and the Pacific Ocean and is affected by the ocean 
currents of the Pacific. The North Equatorial Current 
reaches this coastline and divides, with a northward 
branch flowing up the coast of the Visayas and Luzon, 
becoming the Kuroshio Current as it flows towards Taiwan 
and Japan. The southward branch flows along the east 
coast of Mindanao as the Mindanao Current. The western 
side of the country, facing the South China and Sulu Seas, 
is more directly affected by the reversing pattern of the 
monsoon winds. 

Fringing reefs are well developed around the Batanes 
and Babuyan Islands, although live coral cover on the 
former is reported as low (less than 25 percent). Around 
Luzon itself reefs are by no means continuous. There are no 
recorded reefs in the far northwest, and the first to appear 
on this coast are fringing structures around the Hundred 
Islands, an area in the Lingayen Gulf. The waters here may 



Left: Bongo Island lies sufficiently far from the major riverine sedimentation associated with the adjacent areas of 
Mindanao to allow fringing reefs to develop ISTS61A-40-70, 19851. Right: Banks of fire coral Millepora platyphyUia. 



MAPlOf 



N 



20° 



18° 



SOUTH 

CHINA 
SEA 



120° 



1^° 



Itbayat 



Batanes 
Islands PLS 



Luzon 
Strait 



Batan Is. 



Sabtang 



Minasawa BS 
Balintang Channel 
^ Babuyan L 



Calayan 



Dalupin 



Babuyan Is. 
1 Camiguin 



Mayraira Point . 

Cape Bojeador 
\ 

* Laoag 



Fugo Island MR/TZ 
Babuyan Channel ^cape EngaoD 






• Vigan 



I Northern Sierra 
J'uguagaraol , Madre NatP 



Luzon 



4 DivitacanBay 

\'> Aubarede Point 



• llagan 



40 



124° 
80 120 



160 200 km 



20° 



PACIFIC OCEAN 



W- 



16° 



14° 



Hundred Islands 
NP/TZ/MRNP 



Bolinaof^i ; 

• tingayeiT » Dagupan 

Point ' -'"^ I ,„_«,,„„ 

Ungayen 

GuffNIPA 



PmUPPINES 

^ San Fernando 

^ * Baytxnbang 



J 



San ndefoDso Peninsula 



Hennana Mayor ^ 

■• Masinloc 
and Oyon 



Palauig Point 



, and Oyor 
•> Bay MR 



'^Iba 



,Tar1ac ^ 



/ Baler 
\ Bay 



Dingalan Bay 



PHILIPPINE 
SEA 



Minasawa NIPA 

v,Pati 

^ Polillo Is. 



Manila Bay 

Beach Reson NP *-^ '^ ., 

' ^longapo ■-. .lic'^ '""^'"^ 

i f Bataan i f"^/, 'fX.i 

/ Peninsula ^ #»» /r / ■'C>Jonialig 

Olango Island ^~. MaMla •'■MANILA rt^,:,,'- 

Complex WS > Bay /.Kmc P"S^° <5a'era 

'- Island MS Biosphere 

Fortune - :.•■ "esefve^ . 

Island i^ / >'V«r->. 

'l^-.^.Nasu^uMS ^S^< n^f 



Lubangls.-v ;}-_^ O-^-ff S 

Verde IslanS'.i-'"'* V- " 
MRnz -.___. g^ 



Calaguals. 



TayabasBqy V*^^ 



v. 



: '^r > 



Puerto Galera 9 
Marine BioS 



Marinduque "1^«! «, 



• Naga 



16° 



5^, 



14* 



,^Vi 



^r '^^'^^ 



t^Catanduanes 



Bwias 



Santa Cruz ^^^ 

Apo Reef NatP ' Mindoro ,, ^ 'S^1» "> J-. 

Apo . - ■- 

Island ■' .' 
PLS($f 






.^ Calauit Island GR 

••/ .•^^~ Mimioro , ^ 

:• '■. 120° Vy 



Tobias 
Slrail 



""Sibuyan Sea Burias\ 
'■ Romblon » 



nyxablas sibuyan r 

\\22.° „ 



ir' 



5^> 






i 



-^N 



Masbate "■ - 



\ 124° 



Southeast Asia 



283 



be turbid and much of the reef area is reported to have been 
destroyed by blast fishing. At the mouth of the Lingayen 
Gulf there are wide fringing reefs around Bolinao and the 
nearby islands, with discontinuous fringing reefs running 
south to Manila Bay. The explosion of Mount Pinatubo, 
with its massive ashfall and mud flows, caused a steep 
decline in live coral cover from 60-70 percent down to 10- 
20 percent on the nearest fringing reefs. There is little 
information about the development of reefs along the east 
coast of Luzon, although fringing reefs are described at the 
Polillo Islands and in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural 
Park. There is little published mformation describmg the 
reefs around the southern coastline of Luzon, and little 
for Mindoro and Marinduque, but there are discontinuous 
fringmg reefs in many areas, notably around Puerto Galera 
in Mindoro. Over 200 kilometers west of Luzon is the atoll- 
like formation of Scarborough Reef 

Fringing reefs are widespread along much of the 
coastline of the Visayas, although broken up by areas of 
soft sediments, particularly close to river mouths. Live 
cover on some parts of these reefs can exceed 50 percent, 
and fish diversity is also high, particularly on protected or 
less heavily fished reefs such as Sumilon and Apo Islands 
south of Cebu and Negros. Reefs around Mindanao are 
poorly known, although fringing structures are widespread, 
and diversity is reportedly high on reefs around Arangasa 
Island on the east coast. 

The Sulu Archipelago has not been described in detail, 
but includes fringing and barrier reef systems. To the 
northwest there are two major atoll systems in the Sulu 
Sea, the Cagayan Islands and Tubbataha, the latter being 
a structure composed of two atolls. Further west, Palawan 
has some of the best developed reefs in the country, with 
fringing and patch reefs along most of the coast and live 
coral cover reaching between 50 and 90 percent in some 
places. A number of banks and shoals off the west coast of 
Palawan are thought to be part of a long, sub-surface barrier 
reef system. Finally, due west of Palawan lies the large 
complex of the Spratly Islands, which are disputed between 
several countries, and so considered in a separate section. 

Many of the reefs in this country are severely 
impacted by human activities. Dense populations utilize 
fish communities in almost all areas. The vast majority 
of this fishing is small-scale - coastal waters up to 15 
kilometers from the shore fall under local government 
control and are often closed to larger commercial vessels. 
It has been estimated that reefs may yield up to 10-15 
percent of the total annual fisheries production of the 
country, and studies have shown that individual reefs may 
support yields of between 3 and 36 tons offish per square 
kilometer per year. Despite this, demersal fish stocks 
including reef fish, as well as small pelagics, are 
considered to be biologically and economically overfished 
in almost all areas other than eastern Luzon, Palawan and 



Philippi 


nes 




General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




81 160 


GDP (million US$1 




52 072 


Land area (km^l 




298 120 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




97i 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


30 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




97 


Recorded coral diseases 




It 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




25 060 


Coral diversity 




421 / 577 


Mangrove area (km^l 




1 607 


No. of mangrove species 




30 


No. of seagrass species 




19 



the southern Sulu Sea. Such overfishing has significant 
ecological impacts, including changes in community struc- 
ture and decreases in diversity. In many areas it has been 
claimed that there are insufficient adult fish populations 
to allow local recruitment. Catches of demersal fish have 
been stable or declining since 1976, while fishing effort 
has remained stable or increased. It is unclear whether this 
is solely related to overfishing, or exacerbated by other 
forms of environmental degradation. 

Destructive fishing is also widespread. Although 
blast fishing is illegal, it continues in nearly every part of 
the Philippines and causes significant reef loss in many 
areas. Prior to 1989 blasts were heard at a rate of 10 per 
hour in a 2-3 kilometer listening radius around Bolinao. 
Following the introduction of stringent punishments for 
this illegal activity, these rates have dropped, and there is 
now little or no blast fishing, but only in this one area. 
Cyanide fishing is also common for the live fish trade, 
and there is a significant illegal fishery by vessels from 
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and Japan. The use 
of cyanide by Philippine fishers is prohibited, and this is 
monitored for the export fishery, so the majority of legal 
live fish exports are probably no longer caught in this 
manner. Live fish are also caught in a few areas to supply 
a fairly large aquarium trade export, largely to the USA. 
Muro-ami fishing is another method which has been used 
in the Philippines. Although now illegal it almost certainly 
continues, while a new method, known as pooling, utilizes 
divers (typically 100 or more at one time) with hoses 
aiming compressed air at the reef to force the fish into 
the nets. This may be widespread off the coast of Palawan, 
and is indiscriminate and destructive to the reef The 
Philippines once featured as a major coral exporter. This 



28A 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



formerly legitimate trade has been stopped, although ille- 
gal exports may still be considerable. 

Sedimentation is another major threat, and loads are 
high in many rivers as a result of deforestation and poor 
agricultural practices. Some 60-75 percent of the original 
mangrove cover has been removed, reducing the role these 
can play as nursery areas or sediment traps. Urban and 
industrial effluent is a particular problem in some 
locations, such as Manila Bay. At Toledo City, Cebu, an 
estimated 100 000 tons of mine tailings are discharged 
into the sea daily, with massive losses of fish and coral 
cover along 7 kilometers of coastline. Similar problems of 
discharge combined with poor flushing have affected 
Calancan Bay in Marinduque, Tourism is a growing 
industry in the Philippines, although diving is not as 
significant as in other parts of the region, possibly in part 
related to the degraded nature of so many reefs. 



A considerable number of marine protected areas 
have been declared in the Philippines but few have ever 
been effectively enforced. Some of the larger sites have 
failed to win the support of local communities, while in 
others, the local people have been unable to control the 
impacts of outsiders. There are a few exceptions to this 
however, and the two small reserves of Apo Island and 
Sumilon are globally recognized as examples of good 
community-based management. In both cases very small 
no-take zones have been established and actively enforced 
for a number of years. This has led to increases in fish 
populations and average sizes, which in turn have led to 
export of fish from these areas to surrounding waters and 
an overall increase in fish yields despite the partial closure 
of reefs. In addition to these benefits, the islands have sold 
merchandise to tourist divers, and from 1999 received a 
fee from visiting dive vessels. 



Protected 


areas with coral reefs 










Site name 


Designation Abbreviation 


lUCN cal. 


Size Ikmil 


YeaS 


Philippines 


Agan-an 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1999 


Andulay 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1999 


Apo Island 


Protected Landscape/Seascape 


• PIS 


V 


6.91 


1996 


Apo Reef 


Natural Park 


NatP 


II . 


116.77 


1996 


Basdiot 


Fisfi Sanctuary 


FiS 


na 


0.01 


1988 


Batanes 


Protected Landscape/Seascape 


I PLS 


V 


2 135.78 


1994 


Bien Unido 


Fish Reserve 


FishR 


na 


na 


1995 


Bio-OS 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.08 


na 


Bolisong 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.10 


1995 


Bongalonan 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.20 


1993 


Cabugan 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.07 


1993 


Cabulotan 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1993 


Cagayan Island 


Other Area 


ETC 


Unassigned 


na 


1970 


Calag-calag 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.07 


1991 


Cangmating 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1997 


Caohagan 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


na 


na 


na 


Carbin Reef 


Municipal Park 


MuP 


na 


2.00 


1983 


Danjugan Island 


Private Reserve 


PrivR 


Unassigned 


0.43 


1994 


ElNido 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


Unassigned 


950.00 


1992 


Fortune Island 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


Unassigned 


na 


1978 


Fugo Island 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


Unassigned 


na 


1978 


-. i . — ^ 



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WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Protected areas with 


coral reefs 










■ Site name 


Designation Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikmil 


Year 


Philippines com. 












Gulndolman 


Other Area 


ETC 


Unasslgned 


na 


na 


Hila-itan 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1996 


Hulao Hulao Reef 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


na 


1996 


Inban 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.08 


1996 


Initao 


National Parl< 


NP 


Unassigned 


0.57 


1963 


Lassuan 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


na 


na 


na 


Macahulom 


Municipal Park 


MuP 


na 


10.00 


1983 


Malaga 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.08 


1996 


Malusay 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1996 


Masaplot 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1997 


Masinloc and Oyon Bay 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


la 


75.68 


1994 


Moalboal/Pescador 


Parl< 


P 


Unassigned 


na 


na 


Northern Sierra Madre 


Natural Park 


NatP 


II 


3 195.13 


1997 


Okiot 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.01 


1994 


Olango Island Connplex 


Wildlife Sanctuary 


WS 


Unassigned 


9.20 


na 


Panglao Island - Balicasag Area 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


Unassigned 


na 


1978 


Poblacion 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.0^ 


1994 


Polo Tayabas 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.02 


1995 


Saavedra 


Fish Sanctuary 


FiS 


na 


0.01 


1988 


San Jose 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.10 


1996 


Sombrero Island 


Marine Reserve/Tourist Zone 


MR/TZ 


Unassigned 


na 


1977 


St. Paul Subterranean River 


National Park 


NP 


II 


57.53 


1971 


Sumilon Island 


Marine Parl< 


MP 


Unassigned 


0.23 


1974 


Sumllon National FIsli 


Sanctuary 


S 


na 


0.01 


1980 


Talibon 


Fish Reserve 


FIshR 


na 


na 


1989 


Tambobo 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1995 


Tandayag 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.06 


1996 


Tinaogan 


Municipal Marine Reserve 


MuMR 


IV 


0.25 


1996 


Tubbataha Reefs 


Marine Park 


MP 


Unassigned 


332.00 


1988 


Tulapos 


Fish Sanctuary 


FiS 


na 


o.u 


1994 


Turtle Islands 


Wildlife Sanctuary 


WS 


VI 


2 429.67 


1999 


Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary 


Ramsar Site 






58.00 


1994 


Palawan Biosphere Reserve 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 




11 508.00 


1990 


Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve 


UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 






235.45 


1977 


Puerto Princesa 

Subterranean River National Park 


World Heritage Site 






202.02 


1999 


Tubbataha Reef Marine Park 


World Heritage Site 






332.00 


1993 


Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park Ramsar Site 






332.20 


1999 





Southeast Asia 



287 



Spratly Islands, Tung-Sha 
(Dongsha Qundao) Reefs and 
the Paracel Islands 



MAPS I0g and h 




The Spratly Islands, lying over 200 
kilometers west of the Philippines and northwest of 
Sabah, Malaysia, are a group of perhaps 30 small 
islands, sand cays and rocks, with associated patch and 
atoll reefs covering some 1 150 square kilometers. 
Although there have only been limited studies, it is likely 
that they harbor extremely important biodiversity, and in 
1997 it was estimated that some 68 hermatypic sclerac- 
tinian coral genera had been described by scientists from 
multiple surveys. It has fiirther been suggested that these 
reefs may play a critical role in the maintenance of regional 
biodiversity, acting as a source stock and exporting fish 
larvae to the heavily fished reefs of surrounding countries. 
The ownership of these islands is hotly disputed. 
China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim all of the islands and 
reefs, the Philippines claims most of them, while Malaysia 
claims a southern group and Brunei Darussalam claims one. 
Vigorous efforts are made by all countries to strengthen 
these claims and there are numerous military outposts 
scattered among the reefs. Over 70 people have been killed 
in active combat in recent years. Because of these military 
hazards the reefs are not heavily fished, and a significant 
number of Chinese and Philippine fishers have been arrested 
for attempting to fish the area. Some fishing does occur, 
however, and tends to target the largest species, notably 
sharks, or use explosives to make a rapid catch. Additionally 
the unspecified number of military personnel (possibly 
thousands) undoubtedly have some impact through fishing, 
and have caused wide-scale degradation of terrestrial sys- 
tems including important seabird nesting colonies. Overall 



15 km 



the area is probably in relatively good condition, although 
the risks of conflict and potential impacts on the environ- 
ment remain great. One suggestion has been that the area 
might be declared an international marine park through the 
development of an agreement similar to the international 
Antarctic Treaty (where, again, various countries have mul- 
tiple overlapping claims of sovereignty). There has been 
little development of such a proposal, although there have 
been a small number of joint studies of the reefs and islands 
between Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. 



Tung-Sha (Dongsha Qundao) Reefs 

The Tung-Sha or Dongsha Qundao reefs are located in the 
northern reaches of the South China Sea, centered around 
a large, submerged atoll with a single island. Diversity is 
not high, although over 70 coral species have been 
recorded. These reefs are disputed between China and 
Taiwan, although Taiwan maintains a lighthouse and 
meteorological station on the island. 



Paracel Islands 

The Paracel Islands are a group of atolls, atoll complexes 
and platform reefs, together with some 3 1 small islands 
in the South China Sea. Sovereignty over these islands is 
disputed with Vietnam. A considerable diversity of corals 
and other groups has been observed, and hermatypic coral 
cover was reported to be high, particularly on the north- 
eastern reef flats, but low on the reef slopes. 



Left: A pink anemonefish Amphipnon perideraion. Right: Tung-Slia Atoll ISTS055-92-3, 19931. 



MAPlOh 



,-'105'^~ 



N 



110° 



. r ,-T15- 




~^' Kinmen /VP 
Hong Shu Lin WR 



CHINA 



.--^ 



Shanku Mangrove 
Biosphere Reserve 



VIETNAM 



Ba Mm NR.r 
Ha Long Bay H/CS 
& World Heritage Site 

HANOI * 



WeiZhQuNR 



Ting Kok SSSI 
Kin Tsui CoP 
Ma On Shan CoP ., 
_ Tsim Bei Tsui SSSt 
Fu Van-Nei Ung 
DingDaoNR 

Lantau North CoP 

Lantau South CoP 



Wen Lan 
HeNR 



' Shan Kou NR 

Cai 
Qiao 
NR 



20° 



LAOS 



Xuan ThuyNR- 

Xuan Thuy Natural 

Wetland Reserve 

Ramsar Site 



CatBaNP 

Xin Ying 

Hong Shu 

UnNR 



Lin Gao 
Jiao NR 



Pat Shin Long CoP 

. Yim Tso Ha Egretry SSSI 
KatOChauSpA 
Plover Cove CoP 
■ ^^ " Gang Kou Hai Gui Wan NR 
■:■ ^ . DaVa WanNR 

"'(CTfiNAj'" SeiKung West CoP 
Sai Kung East CoP 
Hoi Ha Wan SSSI Hok Tsui (Cape d'Aguilar) SSSI 

Shek O CoP clear Water Bay CoP 

Tung-Sha Reefs 
Dongzhaigang (Dongsha Qundao) 

Ramsar Site 



Gulf of Tonkin 



Hainan 



Dong Zhai Gang NR 

Qi Lin Cai NR 
Tong Gu Ung NR 
Qing Lan Gang NR 

Qi Lin Cai NR 



20' 



VIEIfnANE 



THAILAND 



Ung Qiang ' . Xincun 

Shi^aohlky^,,„gj,^^"f^ v». 

BaoYuNR ..- ""^ ' 



Shan Hu 
Jiao NR 



/ Dong Dao NR 

Da Zhou Dao NR 

Nan Wan NR 



15" 




San Ya 

"e'^R Da Don 
HaiNU 

DaNang 



Ya Long Wan 
Qing MeiWan NR 



Crescent Group 



Discovery Reef ^3 



Amphitrite Group 
Lincoln I. 
• VuladOFe Reef 



Co Lao Cham NR 



Cu L^oRe 
QuangNgai 



^ Bombay Reef 
Passau Keah Macclesfield 

■ .. , Bani 

Tnton 1. 

Paracells. 



Scarborough Reef 
(Huangyan Dao) 



15' 



CAMBODIA 



•; PHNOMfENH 



^ ' ■ fiaam NP 



10° 



V3/ - 

Phi?,' 

Quod 
NR 



HoChiMlnh' 



KohTang |-,«^-'' 

VoDoiNRI^ , 
Gulf j^ 

of 
Thailand 






Qui Nhon 



S NhaTrang 
•V 



. Cu Lao Hon: 
Binh Chau Phuoc Buu NR 



SOUTH CHINA SEA 



Trident 
.Shoal 



Can Gio Mangrove 
Biosphere Reserve 



LysShoat 
SuUReef * 

Western Reef . 
Great Discovery Reef ! 
Fiery Cross Reef 



-■ / 



^' Sand Cay 



/f I TemplerBank 

I i ■ ■ i 

^^\ C;. f'j C'LesUeBank 

/"-./T 'Wood Bank 
Fou/teron Ree( fj 






Jackson AtoU 

^ Sabina Shoal 



Discovery 
Small Reef 



Con Dao NP 






PENINSLOAR 
MALAYSL\ 



4 
.^v- 



Cuaiteron Reef 
London Rcefe ■ '^ 



Peareon 
Reef 



Johnson 

Reef 

MaraUe Reef Spratly Is. 



Bombay 
Shoal 



Alison Reef 



ComwalUs South Reef 
^-.Investigator Shoal 



J^^wan 
PHILIPPINES 



INDONESL«L 






Kepulauan 
Anambas 



105° 




110° w 



Sarawak 
(MALAYSL\) 



Kalimantan ^^- 
(INDONESIA) ■^*i 



~0-^ 



100 



200 



300 



400 



500 



^ 



Southeast Asia 289 



Vietnam and China 



MAPS 10h and i 




VIGtndm has an extensive coastline encompas- 
sing a great latitudinal range. In the far south this 
coastline is very low-lying and dominated by 
the Mekong River Delta and the Cau Mau Peninsula. A 
short section of coastline faces the Gulf of Thailand, while 
offshore there are a number of islands, including the 
relatively hilly Phu Quoc Island and associated islands 
to the south, as well as the islands of Nam Du and Tho 
Chau, the latter being located about 150 kilometers west 
of the mainland. Some 80 kilometers offshore from the 
Mekong Delta there are a number of small hilly islands 
called the Con Dao (Con Son) Islands. North of the 
Mekong Delta Vietnam's coastline becomes one of high 
relief, with little or no coastal plain, and the edge of the 
continental shelf coming quite close inshore. Further 
north still the coastline sweeps in to the west and the con- 
tinental shelf becomes very wide indeed around the Gulf 
of Tonkin. There are occasional islands along the central 
coastline, and close to the Chinese border numerous small 
islands, including the Cat Ba islands and other dramatic 
limestone islands which rise up vertically from the waters 
of Ha Long Bay. 

Coral reefs have not been described in detail for 
any locations There are known to be reefs or coral 



communities around most of the offshore islands in the 
southwest, and on the Con Dao Islands. On the east coast, 
fringing reefs and coral communities have developed 
along the mainland, and more particularly the offshore 
islands around Nha Trang. The coastline along much of 
the Gulf of Tonkin is dominated by soft sediments and 
there are few reports of reef development. However, there 
are fringing reef communities further offshore in Ha Long 
Bay and the Tonkin Gulf 

Biodiversity is greatest in the south-central areas 
where some 277 coral species have been recorded, while 
to the north only 165 species are recorded. Typhoon Linda 
caused some damage to the corals in Con Dao Islands in 
1997. and there was some additional mortality in 1998 
arising from bleaching. Recovery was reported as slow 
in Con Dao in 2000, although other affected reefs were 
reported to be making a good recovery. 

Fishing pressure off the southwest coast is thought 
to be very high, with some 7 000 fishing vessels operating 
from nearby and probably as many again coming in from 
other regions. Deforestation has been a major problem in 
Vietnam, largely linked to the use of defoliants during the 
Vietnam war. This has caused massive erosion and heavy 
sedimentation offshore and may be threatening reefs 



A tionfish Pterois volitans, next to the arms of a feather star. 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




around Cat Ba Island. Tourism is rapidly increasing in this 
country, and the Ha Long Bay area receives over a million 
visitors a year. A small number of marine protected areas 
have been established, two of which include coral reefs. 

Vietnam claims a number of islands in the South 
China Sea, including the Spratly Islands. 

China 

Although China has a substantial coastline facing the South 
China Sea there is little or no true reef development along 
any of it. Hainan, a large island in the mouth of the Gulf of 



Tongking, was once reported as having substantial fringing 
reef communities along parts of its southern coast, but a 
number of sites originally described in the 1950s were 
revisited in 1984 and found to have all but disappeared. 
Significant fringing reef structures around Shalao on the 
east coast and Xincun Bay in the southeast were visited in 
1990 and found to be largely made up of dead coral rubble 
with only occasional live corals. The most extensive and 
diverse fringing reef communities are found in the area 
around Sanya where, in 1978. coral cover was reported as 
50-90 percent on the East Reefs and 60 percent on the West 
Reef These figures were reported to have fallen to 40-60 



Vietnam 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




78 77/. 


GDPImiUion US$1 




10i87 


Land area Ikm^l 




327 100 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




396 


Per capita fish consumption 


Ikg/yearl 


17 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




86 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




1 270 


Coral diversity 




278 /36i 


Mangrove area (knn^j 




2 525 


No. of mangrove species 




29 


No. of seagrass species 




9 



China 


*! 


General Data 




Population (thousands) 


1 261 832 


GDP (million US$) 


101 885 


Land area* Ikm^) 


9 291 000 


Marine area (thousand km^) 


3i8 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/year) 


na 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk 1%) 


91 


Recorded coral diseases 





Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^) 


1 510 


Coral diversity 


101/365 


Mangrove area* Ikm^) 


339 


No. of mangrove species* 


23 


No. of seagrass species 


na 


" Including Taiwan 





Large groupers Epinephelus sp. in holding pens awaiting shipment to the restaurants of Hong Kong. 



Southeast Asia 



291 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

^ Site name 



Vietnam 

Cat Ba 

Con Dao 
Ha Long Bay 
China 

Kat Chau 
Shan Hu Jiao 



Designation 

ms!-:.. - j^ 



National Parl< 



National Park 
World Heritage Site 



Special Area 



Nature Reserve 



Abbreviation 



lUCN cat. Size ikm'i Year 



NP 



NP 



SpA 



NR 



IV 



152.00 



150.43 
1 500.00 



0.24 
85.Q0 



1986 
1982 
1994 



1979 
1990 



percent and 30-40 percent respectively by 1990. while many 
species had disappeared. Similarly important and diverse 
communities have also been reported off the islets in 
Yalong Bay just southeast of Sanya. The principal threats 
include coral mining for construction, blast fishing and the 
collection of corals for handicrafts. There are now reported 
to be efforts to protect and manage these reefs. 

A number of coral communities have been described 
off the coastline of Hong Kong. These do not form true 



reefs, and are likely to be mirrored by similar com- 
munities in other areas along this coast. They are all 
undoubtedly threatened by pollution, sedimentation and 
overfishing on this heavily populated coastline. 

China claims a large number of reefs and coral 
islands scattered across the South China Sea, including all 
of the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands off Vietnam, and 
the Tung-Sha reefs towards Taiwan. As sovereignty over 
these areas is disputed they are dealt with separately. 




Left: The Moorish idol Zanclus cornutus is widespread on coral reefs across the indo-Pacific and feeds primarily on 
sponges. Right: Mangroves like these were decimated during the Vietnam war, but large areas have now been replanted. 



MAP lOi 




Southeast Asia 293 



Taiwan and Japan 



MAP 10i 




T3iW3n (China) lies relatively far to the north. 
Nonetheless, it has a number of well developed 
coral reef communities at the northern edge of the 
South China Sea, particularly along its southern edge, and 
around offshore islands. Taiwan is particularly affected 
along its southern and eastern edges by the Kuroshio 
Current, which carries warm water from the south, 
although its influence is weakened during the winter 
months by the Northeast Monsoon. An estimated 300 hard 
coral species have been recorded at the island along with 
1 200 fish species. 

Some of the best known and best developed reefs of 
the mainland are those of the Hengchun Peninsula and the 
Kenting National Park. These are fringing communities, 
although they form a discontinuous structure broken up 
by sand channels. These reefs are further characterized by 
significant variation in the fauna between localities, with 
certain areas dominated by alcyonarian coral. Some 250 
scleractinian corals from 58 genera have been recorded, 
together with 39 species ( 1 1 genera) of alcyonarian coral. 
Fringing reefs are also well developed around the offshore 
islands. In the northern parts of the South China Sea there 
are diverse fringing reefs around Hsiao-Liu-Chiu, while 
further north there are patchy coral reefs and occasional 



fringing reefs around the Pen-Hu (Pescadores) Islands. 
The islands off the east coast include Lan-Yu and Lu-Tao, 
both of which are volcanic. These lie in the path of the 
Kuroshio Current and diverse reef communities have 
developed. In 1998 there was extensive coral bleaching, 
and surveys in 1999 and 2000 have suggested that about 
20 percent of coral colonies died during this event. 

There are thought to be considerable pressures on 
the reefs in Taiwan, particularly from fishing, coastal 
development and tourism. Dynamite fishing, trawling and 
sedimentation are reported to have degraded the reefs 
around the Pen-Hu Islands, while destructive fishing and 
tourism are believed to have impacted reefs on the 
southeast mainland. Aquarium fish collecting and spear 
fishing are also reported to have affected numbers of reef 
fish. Nuclear power plants were reported to have been 
built in the vicinity of a number of reefs, while a nuclear 
waste disposal site was reportedly established at Lan-Yu. 



Japan 

The islands of Japan stretch from the edge of the tropics to 
the mid-temperate regions, and in so doing provide one of 
the clearest examples of the latitudinal limits to coral 



Extensive shallow coral gardens of Acropora abrolhosensis in the Ryukyu Islands Iphoto: JEN Veronl. 



294 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



growth and reef development. The southernmost islands 
are a long chain, the Nansei Shoto. which clearly 
subdivides into a series of smaller archipelagos, with 
the Yaeyama Islands, including the important islands of 
Iriomote and Ishigaki in the south, followed by the Ryukyu 
Islands, including the island of Okinawa. Closest to the 
large island of Kyushu is a final group of small islands, the 
Tokara Islands. Following on from these the main islands 
of Japan, including Kyushu. Shikoku and Honshu in the 
south continue, with numerous offshore islands. One 
critical factor for reef development in these islands is the 
Kuroshio Current, which flows northwards along the edge 
of the continental shelf of the East China Sea. bringing 
relatively warm waters across the southern islands before 
passing out into the Pacific Ocean just south of Kyushu. 

Away from these islands Japan also has a number 
of more isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Daito 
Islands are a small group of three islands some 300 
kilometers east of Okinawa. Two are raised atolls, the third 
a raised platform reef Coral growth is apparently not well 
developed on the steeply shelving sides of these islands. 
South of these there is also reported to be reef dev- 
elopment on the isolated reef of Okino Tori Shima lying 
on the Kyushu-Palau Ridge. Leading southwards from 
Tokyo there is a sequence of small island groups which 
follow the volcanic South Honshu Ridge. The Izu Shoto 
are a widely spaced group of high volcanic islands, lying 
relatively far north. Further south again the Ogasawara 
(Bonin) and Kanzan (Volcano) Islands form two groups 
along a volcanic arc linking Japan and the Mariana Islands 
to the south. Volcanic activity and a lack of suitable 
substrates precludes the development of reefs on many of 
these islands, although rich fringing communities occur in 



some areas. One of the most isolated reefs, even by Pacific 
standards, is that of Minami-Torishima (Marcus Island) an 
atoll lying halfway between the Ogaswara Islands and 
Wake Island (USA). 

The presence of relatively warm waters has enabled 
hermatypic corals to reach quite high latitudes in Japan 
and there are records of around 40 coral genera at the 
larger islands in the north, some reaching into temperate 
latitudes. In these areas, however, corals are incapable of 
forming reefs, and it is generally accepted that the 
northern limit for true reef development in the Nansei 
chain is the Tokara Islands at around 30°N. The most 
extensive fringing reef structures are those around the 
Ryukyu Islands and further south. The remote islands to 
the east of the country are warmed by the Kuroshio 
Current and also show a high diversity of coral species. 
Miyake Jima (34°N) in the north of the Izu Shoto group 
was reported to have 80 hermatypic corals, while some 
156 hermatypic species are recorded from this group as a 
whole. As in other high latitude reefs around the world, 
there appears to be considerable interaction between 
corals and macroalgae, with corals being overgrown 
during colder winters. 

The Ryukyu and Yaeyama Islands have the highest 
levels of diversity. Altogether approximately 400 coral 
species have been recorded from Japan, the majority of 
which are found in the waters around Iriomote and 
Ishigaki. Coral cover is generally very low - a survey from 
1990 to 1992 found that over 60 percent of coral 
communities in the Nansei chain had less that 5 percent 
coral cover while only 8 percent had cover of 50 percent 
or more. It seems highly likely that these low figures 
relate, at least in part, to the heavy environmental deg- 




Left: Fringing reefs around Okinawa have been severely damaged or destroyed by sedimentation ISTS080-755-79. 19961. 
Right: Taiwan's Pen-Hu Islands ISTS068-239-89, 199il. 



Southeast Asia 



295 




.'ir-^r.-.i - - 



radation that has affected many reefs in the country. Many 
were also severely impacted by coral bleaching in 1998, 
particularly those in the southern areas, with a 62 percent 
loss of coral cover in Ishigaki Island. By contrast, no 
bleaching was reported at the eastern island chains of Izu 
Shoto or Ogasawara. 

Unfortunately coastal development, forest clearance 
and poor agricultural practices have led to the rapid 
demise of many of Japan's most important fringing reefs, 
and a large number, particularly around the bigger islands 
such as Okinawa, can now be regarded as totally 
destroyed. Further death of corals has been caused by 
crown-of-thorns starfish, which have reached plague 
proportions in a number of areas since 1970. There is a 
great deal of tourism in the southern islands of Japan, with 
the Ryukyu Islands receiving over 4 million tourists per 
year in the late 1990s. Diving and snorkelling are very 



^^^^^^ Taiwan, 


China ■ 


-^ 


General Data 






Population (thousands! 




22 191 


GDP ImiUion US$1 




na 


Land area Ikm^) 




36 3i9 


Marine area (thousand km^ 


'■] 


285 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/year) 


na 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%) 




88 


Recorded coral diseases 




0^ 


Biodiversity 




Reef area (km^j 




9A0 


Coral diversity 




255 / AU 


Mangrove area* (km^j 




339 


No. of mangrove species* 




23 


No. of seagrass species 




5 


* For the whole of China 










popular, and there is some damage caused by reef 
walking. Coastal development, in part fuelled by tourism, 
has led to direct destruction, including land reclamation 
for the major airport in Okinawa, and a new airport in 
Ishigaki, both built directly on coral reefs. Commercial 
fishing on the reefs is limited. In Okinawa prefecture total 
reef fish catch m 1993 was over 6 000 tons, but in 1998 it 
had dropped to 4 700 tons, a decline which may in part be 
linked to reef decline, but is further explained by slight 
decreases in the total numbers of fishers. 

While there are many protected areas, estimated 
to cover nearly 13 percent of the total reef area of the 
country, it is not clear to what degree these areas provide 
active protection. Given that some of the greatest threats 
to the reefs come from external sources a more holistic 
approach may be required to ensure the survival of the 
remaining reefs. 



P" Japan 




' General Data 




Population (thousands) 


126 550 


GDP (million US$1 


3 300 625 


Land area [km^l 


373 049 


Marine area (thousand km^) 


4 022 


Per capita fish consumption (kg/yearl 


67 


Status and Threats 




Reefs at risk (%) 


91 


Recorded coral diseases 
Biodiversity 







Reef area (km^l 


2 900 


Coral diversity 


420/413 


Mangrove area (km^j 


4 


No. of mangrove species 


11 


No. of seagrass species 


8 



Left: Blast fishing tias reduced vast areas of Souttieast Asia's reefs to rubble. Rig fit: Southern Japan is the northernmost 
part of the range of the white mouth moray eel, Gymnothorax meleagris. 



296 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Even the more remote islands appear to have been 
affected by coastal development. Tourism is a major activity 
in the Izu Shotu Islands, including dive tourism, and two of 
the most diverse sites for corals on Miyake Jima have been 



completely destroyed by port construction. Tourism is also 
increasing in the Ogasawara Islands, and concerns have 
been expressed about the rapid increases in development 
which may occur following the construction of an airport. 



Protected areas wi 


th coral reefs 










Site name 


Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikmil 


Yearfl 


Taiwan 


Bei-Men Coast 


Protected Area 


PA 


na 


29.80 


1987 


Jeou-Perng Coast 


Protected Area 


PA 


na 


5.30 


1987 


Kenting 


National Park 


NP 


II 


326.31 


1982 


Kenting Uplifted Coral Reef 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


1.38 


1994 


North Coast 


Protected Area 


PA 


VI 


56.95 


1987 


Japan 












Genkai 


Quasi National Park 


QNP 


Unassigned 


101.58 


1956 


Irlomote 


National Park 


NP 


II 


125.06 


1972 


Kamae (Oital {A areas) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.34 


1974 


Kametoku (Kagoshimal 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.70 


1974 


Kasari Hanto Higashi Kaigan 
(Kagoshimal 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.93 


1974 


Kirishima - Yaku 


National Park 


NP 


II 


548.33 


1934 


Kiyanguchi 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.46 


1977 


Maibishi 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.48 


1977 


Nichinan IMiyazakil 16 areas) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.56 


1970 


Nichinan Kaigan 


Quasi National Park 


QNP 


Unassigned 


45.42 


1955 


Ogasawara 


National Park 


NP 


II 


60.99 


1972 


Okinawa 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


1.40 


1972 


Okinawa Kaigan 


Quasi National Park 


QNP 


Unassigned 


103.20 


1972 


Okinawa Senseki 


Quasi National Park 


QNP 


Unassigned 


31.27 


1972 


Saikai 


National Park 


NP 


V 


246.36 


1955 


Sakiyama-wan 


Nature Conservation Area 


NCA 


la 


1.28 


1983 


Sakurajima IKagoshima) (2 sites) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.15 


1970 


Sata Misaki (Kagoshimal (2 areas) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.12 


1970 


Setouchi (Kagoshima) (3 areas) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.58 


1974 


Shimobishi 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.83 


1977 


Surikozaki (Kagoshima) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.70 


1974 


Takidunguchi 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


0.37 


1977 


Tokashiki (Okinawa) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


1.20 


1978 


Yoronto (Kagoshimal (3 areas) 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


1.55 


1974 


Yoshino - Kumano 


National Park 


NP 


V 


597.98 


1936 


Zamami (Okinawal 


Marine Park 


MP 


na 


2.33 


1978 















Southeast Asia 



Selected bibliography 



REGIONAL SOURCES 

Barber CV, Pratt VR 119971. Sullied Seas: Strategies for 
Combating Cyanide Fishing in Southeast Asia and Beyond. 
World Resources Institute and International Mannelife 
Alliance, Washington DC, USA, 

Barber CV, Pratt VR 119981, Policy reform and community- 
based programs to combat cyanide fishing in the Asia- 
Pacific region. In: Hatziolos M, Hooten AJ, Fodor M ledsl. 
Coral Reefs: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable 
/Management. The World Bank. Washington DC. USA. 

Benzie JAH 119981. Genetic structure of marine organisms and 
SE Asian biogeography In: Hall R, Holloway JD ledsl, 
Biogeography and Geological Evolution of SE Asia. Backhuys 
Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands, 

Chou LM 120001. Southeast Asia reefs - status update: 
Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, 
Thailand and Vietnam, In: Wilkinson CR ledl. Status of Coral 
Reefs of the World: 2000. Australian Institute of Marine 
Science, Cape Ferguson, Australia. 

Clough BF led) 119931. Mangrove Ecosystems Technical 
Reports, 1: The Economic and Environmental Values of 
Mangrove Forests and their Present State of Conservation in 
the South-East Asia/Pacific Region. International Society for 
Mangrove Ecosystems, Okinawa. Japan, ITTO/ISME/JIAM 
Project PD71 /89 Rev,1, 

Fujiwara S. Shibuno T, Mito K, Nakai T. Sasaki Y, Dai C-F, Gang 
C 120001, Status of coral reefs of east and north Asia: China, 
Japan and Taiwan, In: Wilkinson CR ledl. Status of Coral 
Reefs of the World: 2000. Australian Institute of Marine 
Science, Cape Ferguson, Australia. 

MacKinnon N 11998). Destructive fishing practices in the Asia- 
Pacific region. In: Hatziolos M, Hooten AJ, Fodor M ledsl. 
Coral Reefs: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable 
Management. The World Bank, Washington DC, USA, 

McManus JW, Cabanban AS (19921, Coral reef recruitment 
studies in Southeast Asia: background and implications. In: 
Proceedings, Worl<shop on Coral and Fish Recruitment. 
Report No. 7, ASEAN-Australia Living Coastal Resources 
Project, 1-8 June 1992. Bolinao Marine Laboratory, Bolinao, 
Philippines, 

Silvestre GT, Pauly D II 997). tCLARM Conference Proceedings, 
53: Status and Management of Tropical Coastal Fisheries in 
Asia. International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 
Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Sudara S, Wilkinson CR, Chou LM ledsl (1994). Proceedings, 
Third ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living Coastal 
Resources. Volume 2: Research Papers. Australian Institute 
of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 

Thia-Eng C, Pauly D ledsl 119891, Coastal Area Management 
in Southeast Asia: Policies, Management Strategies and 
Case Studies. Ministry of Science, Technology and the 
Environment, Malaysia and International Center for Living 
Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Wilkinson CR ledl 119941. Living Coastal Resources of 
Southeast Asia: Status and Management. Australian 
Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia, 

Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl 119941, Proceedings, 
Third ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living Coastal 
Resources. Volume h Status Reviews. Australian Institute of 
Marine Science, Townsville. Australia, 



THAILAND, MYANMAR AND CAMBODIA 

Eiamsa-Ard M, Amornchairojkul S 119971, The marine 
fisheries of Thailand, with emphasis on the Gulf of Thailand 
trawl fishery. In: Silvestre G, Pauly D ledsl, ICLARM 
Conference Proceedings, 53: Status and Management of 
Tropical Coastal Fisheries in Asia. International Center 
for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, 
Philippines. 

Juntarashote K, Suvanachai P 119991, A Summary of Coastal 
Zone Management in the Gulf of Thailand. Workshop 
paper. Coastal Zone Management Workshop 1999, 
University of British Colombia, Canada, 
http:// www, I re. ubc.ca/czm/gu lfthailand.htm I 

Piprell C, Boyd AJ 119941, Thailand's Coral Reefs. Nature 
under Threat. White Lotus, Bangkok, 

Sudara S, Nateekarnchanalap S (19881, Impact of tourism 
development on the reef in Thailand. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef 
Symp 2: 273-278. 

Sudara S, Yeemin T 11997). Coral reefs in Thai waters: newest 
tourist attraction. In: Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl. 
Proceedings, Third ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living 
Coastal Resources. Volume t: Status Reviews. Australian 
Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 

INDONESIA 

Bak RPM, Povel GDE 119891. Ecological variables, including 
physiognomic-structural attributes, and classification of 
Indonesian coral reefs, Neth J Sea Res 23: 95-106. 

Borel Best M, Djohani RH. Noor A, Reksodihardjo G 119921. 
Coastal marine management programs in Indonesia: 
components for effective marine conservation. Proc 7th Int 
Coral Reef Symp 2: 1001-1006. 

Cesar H 119961. Economic Analysis of Indonesian Coral Reefs. 
The World Bank, Washington DC, USA, 

Djohani R 119981. Abatement of destructive fishing practices in 
Indonesia: who will pay'' In: Hatziolos M, Hooten AJ, Fodor M 
ledsl. Coral Reefs: Challenges and Opportunities for 
Sustainable Management. The World Bank, Washington DC, 
USA. 

Hopley D, Suharsono 120001. The Status of Coral Reefs in 
Eastern Indonesia. Australian Institute of Marine Science, 
Cape Ferguson, Australia. 

Priyono BE, Sumiono B 11997). The marine fisheries of 
Indonesia, with emphasis on the coastal demersal stocks of 
the Sunda Shelf. In: Silvestre G, Pauly D ledsl. ICLARM 
Conference Proceedings, 53: Status and Management of 
Tropical Coastal Fisheries in Asia. International Center 
for Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, 
Philippines. 

Soekarno (19971. The status of coral reefs in Indonesia. In: 
Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl. Proceedings, Third 
ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living Coastal Resources. 
Volume 1: Status Reviews. Australian Institute of Marine 
Science, Townsville, Australia, 

Tomascik T, Mah AJ, Nontji A, Moosa MK 11997a). The Ecology 
of Indonesia, VII: The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas. Part 
One. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 

Tomascik T, Mah AJ, Nontji A. Moosa MK I1997bl. The Ecology 
of Indonesia, VIII: The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas. Part 
Two. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 



298 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE AND BRUNEI DARUSSALAM 

Abu Talib A, Alias M 119971. Status of fisheries in Malaysia - an 
overview. In: Silvestre 6, Pauly D ledsl. \CLARM Conference 
Proceedings, 53: Status and Management of Tropical 
Coastal Fistieries in Asia. International Center for Living 
Aquatic Resources Management. Manila. Philippines. 

Chia LS. Khan H, Chou LM 119881. ICLARM Tectinical Reports. 
21: The Coastal Environmental Profile of Singapore. 
International Center for Living Aquatic Resources 
Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Chou LM 11990). Assessing the coastal living resources of 
Singapore - a study under the ASEAN-Australia Coastal 
Living Resources Project. Wallaceana 59-60: 7-9. 

Chou LM, Low JKY, Loo MGK 119971. The state of coral reefs 
and coral reef research m Singapore. In: Wilkinson CR, 
Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl. Proceedings. Third ASEAN- 
Australia Symposium on Living Coastal Resources. Volume 
1: Status Reviews. Australian Institute of Marine Science, 
Townsville, Australia. 

De Silva MWRN, Wright RAD, Matdanan HJH, Sharifuddin PHY. 
Agbayani CV 119921. Coastal Environmental Sensitivity 
Mapping of Brunei Darussalam. Department of Fisheries, 
Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Brunei Shell 
Petroleum Company, Brunei Darussalam. 

DOF-MIPR 11992). ICLARM Technical Reports. 29: The 
Integrated Management Plan for the Coastal Zone of Brunei 
Darussalam. Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Industry 
and Primary Resources and International Center for Living 
Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Rajasuriaya A, De Silva MWRN, Zainin AH 11992). Survey of 
Coral Reefs of Brunei Darussalam in Relation to Their 
Vulnerability to Oil Spills. Department of Fisheries, Ministry 
of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam. 

Ridzwan AR 119971. The status of coral reefs m Malaysia. In: 
Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl. Proceedings. Third 
ASEAN -Australia Symposium on Living Coastal Resources. 
Volume h Status Reviews. Australian Institute of Marine 
Science, Townsville, Australia. 

PHILIPPINES 

Barut NC. Santos MD, Garces LR 11997). Overview of Philippine 
marine fisheries. In: Silvestre G, Pauly D ledsl, ICLARM 
Conference Proceedings. 53: Status and Management of 
Tropical Coastal Fisheries in Asia. International Center lor 
Living Aquatic Resources Management, Manila, Philippines. 

Gomez ED 11997). Reef management in developing countries: 
the Philippines as a case study. ProcSth tnt Coral ReefSymp 
1: 123-128. 

Gomez ED, Alirio PM, Licuanan WRY, Yap NT 119971. Status 
report of coral reefs of the Philippines 199A. In: Wilkinson 
CR, Sudara S, Chou LM ledsl. Proceedings. Third A5EAN- 
Australia Symposium on Living Coastal Resources. Volume 
1: Status Reviews. Australian Institute of Marine Science, 
Townsville, Australia. 

Hodgson G 119941. Sedimentation damage to coral reefs. In: 
Ginsburg RN [edl. Proceedings of the Colloquium on Global 
Aspects of Coral Reefs: Health. Hazards and History. 
University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA. 

Russ GR, Alcala AC 11996). Do marine reserves export adult 
fish biomass'' Evidence from Apo Island, central Philippines. 
Mar Ecot Prog Ser 132: 1-9. 

RussGR, Alcala AC, Cabanban AS 119921. Marine reserves and 
fisheries management on coral reefs with preliminary 
modelling of the effects on yield per recruit. Proc 7th Int 
Coral ReefSymp 2: 978-985. 



SPRATLY ISLANDS, TUNG-SHA IDONGSHA QUNDAO) REEFS 
AND THE PARACEL ISLANDS 

McManus JW 119941. The Spratly Islands: a marine park'' 

Ambio23: 181-186, 
Vo Si Tuan, Nguyen Huy Yet, Alirio PM (19971. Coral and coral 

reefs in the north of Spratly Archipelago - the results of RP- 

VN J0M5RE-SCS 1996. Proc Sci Conf on RP-VN JOMSRE- 

SCS '96. Ha Noi, Vietnam. 

VIETNAM AND CHINA 

Fiege D, Neumann V, Li J 119941. Observation on coral reefs of 
Hainan Island, South China Sea. Mar Poll Bui 29: 84-89. 

Guozhong W, Bingquan L, Songqing Q 119941. On the severe 
changes in the ecology and sedimentation of Luweitou 
fringing coral reefs, Hainan Island, China. In: Ginsburg RN 
ledl. Proceedings of the Colloquium on Global Aspects of 
Coral Reefs: Health. Hazards and History. 1993. Rosenstiel 
School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of 
Miami, USA. 

Latypov YY 119951. Community structure of scleractinian reefs 
in the Baitylong Archipelago ISouth China Seal. Asian Mar 
8/0(13: 27-37, 

Latypov YY, Malyutin AN 119961. Structure of coral 
communities on the eastern part of Baitylong Archipelago, 
South China Sea, 4s/an Mar 6/0/ 13: 15-24. 

Vo Si Tuan 119981. Hermatypic Scleractinia of South Vietnam. 
Proc 3rd Int Conf on Marine Biology of Hong Kong and South 
China Sea. Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong. 1 1-20. 

Vo Si Tuan, Hodgson G (19971. Coral reef of Vietnam: 
recruitment limitation and physical forcing. Proc 8th int 
Coral ReefSymp 1: 477-482. 

TAIWAN AND JAPAN 

Dai C-F 119881. Coral communities of southern Taiwan. Proc 
6th Int Coral ReefSymp 2: 647-652. 

Fujiwara S (1997). Coral Reefs in Japan. Marine Parks Center 
of Japan, Tokyo, Japan. 

Fujiwara S, Shibuno T, Mito K, Nakai T, Sasaki Y, Dai C-F, Gang 
C (20001. Status of coral reefs of east and north Asia: China, 
Japan and Taiwan. In: Wilkinson CR ledl. Status of Coral 
Reefs of the World: 2000. Australian Institute of Marine 
Science, Cape Ferguson, Australia. 



Map sources 

Map 10a 

For Myanmar, coral reef data for the Mergui Archipelago are 
taken from Hydrographic Office (19751. Sources for this data 
include hydrographic surveys undertaken in 1877-1914 and 
1930-1939. Only areas marked as coral reefs were included, 
while It IS likely that a number of other submerged rocks and 
pinnacles are also reef structures. Outside of this area, 
additional coral reef data have been taken as arcs from 
Petroconsultants SA 119901*. 

Coral reefs of Thailand are taken from Chansang et al 
11999a and b], which include maps for the entire coastline at 
1:10 000. These were free-drawn onto World Vector Shoreline 
11:250 0001. All coral structures were included (fringing, large 
communities on rocks, small coral communities and patch 
reefsl. 
Chansang H, Satapoomin U, Poovachiranon S ledsl (1999a), 

Coral Reef Maps of Thailand. Volume 1: Gulf of Thailand. 

Coral Reef Management Programme. Department of 

Fisheries. (In Thai language.! 



Southeast Asia 



Chansang H, Satapoomin U, Poovachiranon S (eds) 11999b). 

Coral Reef Maps of Ttiailand. Volume 2. Andaman Sea. Coral 
Reef Management Programme, Department of Fisheries. Iln 
Thai language.) 
Hydrographic Office (1975). Mergui Archipelago. British 
Admiralty Ctiart No. 216. 1:300 000. September 1975. 
Taunton, UK, 

Maps 10b, lOc.lOd.lOe 

Coral reef data are largely based on arcs from 
Petrcconsultants SA (1990)'. Some additional areas were 
added by experts during the Regional Reefs at Risk workshop 
in Manila, 2000. For the Riau Archipelago high resolution data 
were generously provided through the Regional Reefs at Risk 
project. These are based on Landsat TM at a working scale of 
1:30 000. 



but further reefs were added based on simple annotation 
provided by Cheng-feng Dai (Professor, Institute of 
Oceanography, Taiwan). 

For China, coral reef data have been taken as arcs from 
Petroconsultants SA 11990]*. For Vietnam, coral reef data were 
provided on a series of hand annotated base maps (various 
scales between approximately 1 : 1 00 000 and 1 :750 000), based 
on the expert knowledge of Vo Si Tuan (Head, Department of 
Marine Living Resources, Institute of Oceanography, Vietnam). 
Gaps in this map coverage were filled with data from 
Petroconsultants SA 11990). 

Environment Agency (1981-1987), Actual Vegetation Map, 
Okinawa. 1-29. 1:50 000. The 3rd National Survey on the 
Natural Environment (Vegetation). Environment Agency, 
Japan, |29-map series on 26 sheets). 



Maps 10b and 10c 

For large parts of Malaysia, coral reef data have been taken as 
arcs from Petroconsultants SA 11990)*. For Sabah higher 
resolution reef polygons were kindly made available through 
the Regional Reefs at Risk Southeast Asia project, which plot 
reefs at a scale of 1:200 000. For Brunei coral reef data have 
been taken from De Silva et al 11992). 
De Silva MV^/RN, Wright RAD. Matdanan HJH. Sharifuddin PHY, 

Agbayani CV 11992). Coastal Environmental Sensitivity 

Mapping of Brunei Darussalam. Department of Fisheries. 

Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Brunei Shell 

Petroleum Company, Brunei Darussalam. 

Maps 1 0f and lOg 

The coral reef map for the Philippines is largely based on two 
sources: processed satellite imagery kindly provided by the 
National Mapping and Resource Information Authority 
INAMRIAl and further details from Petroconsultants SA 
11990)*. The former data were prepared from SPOT images 
taken in 1987, at a scale of 1:250 000. Unfortunately expert 
analysis showed significant reef areas were missing from this 
analysis, so gaps were filled with the lower resolution 
Petroconsultants SA data. 

In addition, the sub-surface barrier reef system on the 
western coast of Palawan was mapped based on Hydrographic 
Office 11985). This data is based on Philippine Government 
charts to 1976, Admiralty surveys of 1850-5/iand US surveys to 
1937. As these are sub-surface reefs, they have not been 
included in the reef area calculations. 
Hydrographic Office (1985). South China Sea - Palawan. British 

Admiralty Chart No. 967. 1:725 000. November 1985. 

Taunton, UK. 
NAMRIA (1988). Land Cover Maps, 1:250 000. National 

Mapping and Resources Information Authority, Manila, 

Republic of the Philippines. 

Map 1 0h 

Data showing reef areas in the Spratly Islands were prepared 
by staff at the University of the Philippines Marine Sciences 
Institute, using source materials at a scale of 1:250 000. It is 
possible to distinguish between surface and sub-surface reefs 
in this dataset, and only the former have been used in the 
calculation of reef areas. 



Map lOi 

For Japan, coral reefs and mangrove areas for all the southern 
islands are taken from Environment Agency (1981-1987). For 
Taiwan, Petroconsultants SA (19901* was used as a base map. 



• See Technical notes, page iOI 



300 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Part IV 



The Pacific Ocean 



This is a vast region, incorporating the 
eastern shores of Australia and stretching 
towards the coastline of the Americas. 
There are more coral reefs here than in any 
other part of the world: over ^iO percent of 
the global total, including the most extensive areas of 
barrier reefs and coral atolls. It was by looking at this 
region that Darwin developed many of his ideas on the 
development of reefs. 

Although a contiguous ocean, the underlying plate 
tectonics are a little more complex. Much of the region 
lies on the main Pacific plate, however the Indo- 
Australlan plate stretches far Into the southwest. The 
boundary between these two plates, and the associated 
tectonic activity, has driven the development of a 
number of the island groups Including Tonga and Fiji. 
Further north a similar boundary occurs between 
the Philippines plate and the Pacific plate. This is the 
location of the Mariana Islands, but also the deepest 
point In all the worlds oceans - the Challenger Deep at 



1 1 034 meters. Away from plate margins, a number of 
island groups have formed over mid-plate hotspots. The 
movement of the ocean crust over these hotspots has 
led to classic Island chains such as Hawai'l. with active 
volcanoes at one end, and a subsequent line of Islands 
Illustrating atoll development as the central volcanic 
islands subside but the reef structures continue to grow. 
Given the size of this ocean, it Is dominated by a 
relatively simple system of ocean currents which are 
broadly consistent throughout the year. From the 
southern hemisphere up to the equator there Is a west- 
ward flowing South Equatorial Current. Immediately 
north of this is the Equatorial Counter Current, flowing 
to the east, typically between 3-5° and 10°N. To the 
north of this, the North Equatorial Current again flows 
westwards. South of the equator, air movements are 
dominated by the southeast trade winds which flow 
from the sub-tropical high pressure areas towards the 
equator, and tend to be particularly strong from 
around June to October. The northeast trade winds 



The Pacific Ocean 



301 



dominate to the north of the equator, and are 
particularly strong from November to May. Along the 
equator itself there are easterly winds. These 
are strongest in the Eastern Pacific, and tend to be 
generally light to variable further west. 

Tropical storms or cyclones are a regular dis- 
turbance in areas away from the equator, and become 
more numerous in the western parts of the Pacific. The 
general westward flow of the surface waters, which are 
heated as they flow, sets up a number of gradients, 
including an important pressure gradient. Occasionally 
this system undergoes reversal in a process known as 
the El Nifio Southern Oscillation Ian "El Nino event"]. 
Such processes are typified by warm water upwellings 
in the Eastern Pacific and considerable changes in the 
"normal" patterns of currents and upwellings across 
the region and even around the globe. The impacts 
of such events on coral reefs can be considerable, as 
witnessed by the mass bleaching events of recent years 
(see Chapter 2). 

In terms of biodiversity this is a very important, 
though still little studied, region. In the far west it 
encompasses the edges of the Indonesian-Philippine 
center of coral diversity, and there is evidence to 
suggest that biodiversity on reefs in Papua New Guinea 
may be at least as high as in these countries. I^oving 
east across the region there is a clear gradient of 
diminishing diversity which appears to be reflected in 
all of the major groups of coral reef organisms, as well 
as in mangroves and seagrasses. There are some ^5 
mangrove species recorded from Australia and Papua 
New Guinea, but only three from Samoa, with none 
occurring east of Samoa. Knowledge of the reefs in 
this region is still extremely limited. Australia's Great 
Barrier Reef has been extensively studied, but its 
vast size means that, even here, many reefs are only 
occasionally visited by scientists. French Polynesia is 
another relatively well studied territory, but it has been 
estimated that only about half of the reef systems have 
even been visited by scientists, and there is published 
material on less than a quarter of them. 

This was one of the last regions on Earth to have 
been settled by humans. While there is some evidence 
of early arrivals in Papua New Guinea and the nearby 
islands up to 30 000 years ago, the movement of 
peoples out to oceanic islands is largely the result of 
more recent journeys. The great Polynesian voyages 
probably began some 3 000-4 000 years ago, and con- 
tinued until about 1 000 years ago. European arrival 
in the region had considerable impacts on the native 
people. In many islands, "new" diseases decimated 
populations, such that, although there are now high 
growth rates, many nations still have lower popula- 
tions than existed before European arrival. 



In the Reefs at Risk analysis this region was 
assessed as being one of the least threatened ir the 
world. Population densities are generally low, and 
there are large areas of coral reefs which are far from 
any human populations. Despite this, human reliance 
on the coral reefs of the region is considerable. For 
many of the small island nations they are a critical 
source of food, as well as offering protection from 
storms, tvjany areas, and some entire nations, are com- 
prised solely of small atoll cays, entirely the product 
of reef development, and only a few meters above sea 
level at their highest point. 

Western-style development is limited in many 
countries, and wide areas of reef still fall under some 
form of customary marine tenure. Artisanal fishing 
predominates in coastal waters, and traditional 
systems for controlling this fishing often include 
relatively complex and effective management regimes 
Isee Chapter 21 

Environmental problems do occur in some areas. 
There is evidence of target species overfishing in 
many countries, and populations of clams and trochus 
have collapsed in several nations, even before export 
fisheries for these species had begun. Modern fishing 
methods have allowed access to more remote reefs, 
and more thorough harvesting. As traditional systems 
break down, some areas have seen considerable 
overexploitation, and also destructive fishing. These 
problems do not affect wide areas, but are important, 
particularly because they are focussed close to high 
population densities and are clearly diminishing the 
potential of the reefs as a renewable source of food. 

Tourism is important for the economy of many 
countries, and is almost entirely focussed on the 
coastal zone, with diving and snorkelling being 
key activities. In general, however, tourist numbers 
remain low compared to other parts of the world, and 
they are usually restricted to those islands with more 
developed infrastructures. 

Pollution and sedimentation are generally not 
widespread, but are clearly a concern in localized 
areas, especially where there is urban development. 
On the high islands sediment runoff and pollution 
from agriculture and mining can be a problem. 

The transition from traditional to Western society 
presents a number of interesting difficulties. The 
desire to establish legally designated marine protected 
areas has run into conflict with local "owners" of reef 
resources. In many countries this has prevented 
the establishment of Western-style protected area 
systems. While traditional management regimes 
remain effective this is unproblematic, but as or when 
such systems are undermined there is considerable 
potential for overexploitation and damage. 



302 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Chapter 1 1 
Australia 




Australia is an island continent with an 
extensive tropical coastline. Its western 
shores mark the southeastern margins 
of the Indian Ocean while, to the east, it 
provides the southwestern boundary of 
the Pacific Ocean. Between these two is a complex, 
poorly known, northern coastline which runs close to 
southern Indonesia, separated by the Timor Sea to the 
west and the Arafura Sea to the east. 

After Indonesia, Australia has the largest area 
of coral reefs of any nation, nearly 50 000 square 
kilometers, or some 17 percent of the world's total 
area of reefs. Conditions for reef development vary 
considerably along the coastline. In the far west the 
climate is dry and there is little terrestrial runoff. Reef 
development is not continuous, though away from loose 
coastal sediments there are important areas, includ- 
ing Australia's best developed fringing reefs. The 
southward flowing Leeuwin Current is also important 
on this coastline, bringing warm waters to relatively 
high latitudes and enabling the development of some 
unique reef communities. Further north there are 
several reefs on the outer edges of the continental 



shelf. These include remnants of what may have 
been a substantial barrier reef structure drowned as 
a result of rising sea levels over geological time 
scales. The northern coastline is less known, however 
this is an area of high terrestrial runoff, and the 
waters are shallow and turbid, greatly restricting reef 
development. The eastern boundary of the Arafura Sea 
is marked by a narrow constriction, the Torres Strait. 
East of here, the world's largest coral reef complex 
commences, extending out to the margins of the 
continental shelf and continuing southwards as the 
Great Barrier Reef. The warm, southward flowing East 
Australia Current also supports the development of 
high latitude reefs along Australia's eastern shores 
to the south of the Great Barrier Reef. Other reefs 
are found in Australia's offshore waters. Most notable 
among these are the extensive reef structures of the 
Coral Sea, east of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Australia also administers the Cocos iKeelingI 
Islands and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, both 
of which have significant coral reefs. 

Australia's original human population, the 
Australian Aborigines, are thought to have inhabited 



Left: The reefs of the northern Great Barrier Reef where the continental shelf is relatively narrow ISTS046-77-31, 19921. 
Right: The blue starfish Linkia laevigata is widespread on coral reefs across the Indo-Pacific. 



MAP 11 




f'^. 



-' « 



< S 



OS 



Q 




f 



a 
■£ ■- .* 
o i- o 













306 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




the country for more than ^0 000 years. These people, 
and the Torres Strait Islanders who occupy parts of the 
far northeast of the country, have traditionally made 
considerable use of reef resources. It seems likely, 
however, that their overall impacts remained minimal. 
Population densities were low, and a large area of 
offshore reef remained inaccessible to them. 

The continent was first described by European 
travelers in the 17th century. Dampier visited parts 
of the northwestern coast in 1688 and 1699. Captain 
James Cook was the first to navigate the waters of the 
Great Barrier Reef, and indeed ran aground there in 
1770. The first British settlement was established in 
Australia in 1788. 

The Aboriginal population has decreased con- 
siderably since European occupation, while many of 
those who remain have been dispossessed of their tradi- 
tional lands and have ceased to practice their traditional 
lifestyles. A few remaining coastal populations still have 
considerable rights regarding their traditional use of the 



reefs, but their numbers are so low that they are unlikely 
to have any significant impact except, perhaps, in parts 
of the Torres Strait region. The dominant human impacts 
can now be related to fisheries and terrestrial runoff 
from deforestation, overgrazing and certain agricultural 
practices. Compared with most countries, however, 
these impacts remain few. Population densities are low 
in all coral reef areas, while the location of many reefs at 
some distance from the shore further protects them 
from human impacts. 

Considerable resources have been put into coral 
reef research in Australia and, despite the vast area of 
reefs in the country, there is a good deal of information 
describing their distribution and biodiversity. Equally 
importantly, the great majority of Australia's reefs fall 
within protected areas. The Great Barrier Reef Marine 
Park is the largest protected reef in the world, and is 
well managed with a detailed zoning plan, providing 
areas of strict protection alongside much larger areas 
of multiple use. 



Left: The North West Cape is bordered by Australia's longest fringing reef the Ningatoo Reef ISTS035-76-44. 19901. Right, 
above: A number of reefs, including Ashmore Reef, lie right on the edge of the continental shelf in the far northwest of 
Australia ISTS060-75-25, 19941. Right, below: Leopard grouper Plectropomus leopardus amidst branching and soft corals. 



Australia 



West Australia 



MAPua 



The reefs in the west of Australia encompass a 
variety of types in a very broad range of oceano- 
graphic conditions. For the most part this is a very 
dry coasthne with little terrestrial runofT. It is also, from a 
human perspective, very sparsely populated and poorly 
documented. One critical oceanographic feature is the 
Leeuwin Current which flows south from Indonesia, 
carrying warm waters to relatively high latitudes, par- 
ticularly along the continental shelf edge. 

Along the mainland coast, reefs are discontinuous but 
very well developed in places. In the north the continental 
shelf is very wide and dominated by turbid waters with 
strong currents. Reef development is little known off the 
Eighty Mile Beach, though further west there are scattered 
reefs among the Dampier Archipelago and the Monte Bello 
Islands. Here, as the continental shelf narrows, there is a 
great range of oceanographic conditions associated with 
the gradient between nearshore turbid waters and clear 
offshore waters, mixed by the complex current regime. 

Australia's longest continuous fringing reef system is 
the Ningaloo Reef which follows some 230 kilometers of 
coastline running southwards from North West Cape. The 
reef flats are well developed, lying between 0.5 and 7 
kilometers offshore. The continental shelf is narrower here 
than anywhere else in the country, with the 200 meter 
contour less than 20 kilometers offshore. These reefs receive 
the full impact of oceanic waves, so corals tend to be quite 
low and compact. Biodiversity is relatively high, with some 
300 species of coral, nearly 500 species of fish and over 
600 molluscs. The area is also noted for the appearance 
of whale sharks. These giant plankton-feeders occur in 
considerable numbers between mid-March and mid-May. 

The marine areas of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site 
are of considerable interest, including some of the most 
extensive seagrass communities in the world and harboring 
what is probably the largest dugong population in the world 
(over 10 000). Monkey Mia Bay has become famous for a 
tame group of bottle-nosed dolphins, but the region is also 
of considerable importance for other cetaceans, including 
humpback and southern right whales. Hamelin Pool, within 
the Shark Bay area, is one of the few places in the world 
where there are actively growing stromatolites. Hypersaline 
conditions prevent the survival of most organisms, but 
photosynthetic bacteria and microalgae survive and form 
microbial mats as they trap and bind sediments. Over the 
last 4 000 years these mats have developed into relatively 
large structures - columns or mounds up to 1.5 meters high. 



Similar structures have been recorded in fossils dating back 
3.5 billion years, some of the earliest known forms of life. 
Despite this, there are no true coral reefs in the Shark Bay 
area, although some 80 coral species have been recorded. 

The southernmost true reefs in the Indian Ocean are 
around the Houtman Abrolhos Islands which lie close to 
29°S on the edge of the continental shelf. These islands 
were named by Frederick Houtman in 1619, and the word 
Abrolhos is derived from the Portuguese expression abri 
vossos olhos ("look out" or "take care") as they were such 
a navigational hazard. They are located on three carbonate 
platforms with channels 40 meters deep between them. 
Lying on the edge of the continental shelf they are directly 
affected by the Leeuwin Current which moderates the 
winter temperatures, and may also have a critical role in 
larval supply. Considering their high latitude, these reefs 
have a significant diversity, with over 180 coral species 
and over 230 fish. One of the most interesting ecological 
features of benthic life around these islands is the 
occurrence of substantial macroalgae communities domi- 
nated by brown algae, including the large kelp Ecklonia 
radiata. Corals dominate the community structure on lee- 
ward reef slopes while algal assemblages are predominant 
on windward slopes and flats, and there is considerable 




30 km 



The Houtman Abrolhos have a very high diversity of species considering their southerly latitude, but also incorporate 
more temperate species and macroalgal communities ISTS093-702-70, 19991. 



MAP iia 



112° 



18° 





105'3ff TOS-W 




Christmas Island, 


lo-ao* 


Christmas' \! Y' 
Island CoNP \ | 


lO'-W 


10 : 20 30 km 


— ^ 1 



22° 



116° 



:i20° 



Rowley Mermaid Reef Mermaid 
S""^ Gierke Reef "^'^^^ 



N 

+ 



Imperiuse Reef 



' Rowley 
Shoals MP 



RosemaiyL 
Monte Bello Is. ^ 
Lowendal Is. ... 
Barrow I. / 
Maiy Aime Gni^). 
Rosily Is. •• 



Dampier 
Archipelago 



BedoutL 
Turtle L, 



Eighty Mile Beach 
Ramsar Site . 



.Legendic 



^ 



Port Hedland 



Murionls. 
North West Cape 

Ningaloo , \ i 
Reef ^^i \y 

® '■•■■ Cape 
Ningaloo MP \ Range NP 



Angle L 




Karratha 
bampler 
"Passage Is. 



FoiEstier Is. 



[} 



INDIAN OCEAN 



\ 



BeraierL . |tt 

DoneL i ^ 

. » -Shark " 



( 

Dirk Haitog 1. ' . 
26° Shark Bay MP ■' 



^^Monk^ ASa Bay 



Zuytdorp HShip\ 



Shark Bay 
Western Australia 
World Heritage Site 



Hamelin 
Pool 



Pulu Keelmg CoNP 
Emden HSPZ :',' and Ramsar Site 
Nonh Keelmg I 



INDIAN OCEAN 



Cocos (Keeling) 
Islands 



1? 



Hoisbtngfa L 

^ DirectionL 



Soudi 
Keeling Is.' ^^j,,^ 



Wallabi Group ' 



Houtman 



Abrolhos Easier Group ''^ 
Pelsart Group 



• Geraldton 



AUSTRALIA 
(Western Australia) 



30° 



Half Moon Reef 



18° 



22° 



26° 



30° 



• Kalgooriie 



Marmion MP 
Rottnest I. g', penh 



• Kellerberrin 



90 180 270 360 450 km 



112° 



Shoalwater Islands MP 

♦I : 

Yglgomp NP 
116° 



120° 



Australia 



overlap in some places. These islands thus support a rare 
combination of sub-tropical and temperate communities m 
close proximity. 

Further south there is no true reef development, though 
Rottnest Island off the coast near Perth is fringed by shallow 
platforms where some 25 species of zooxanthellate corals 
have been recorded. The importance of the warming effect 
of the Leeuwin Current is equally strong here. As well as 
corals, about 25-30 percent of the fish and echinoderm 
populations are generally tropical in their distribution. 
Despite studies since the 1950s, the first recording of 
Acropora on these reefs was not until 1988. It has been 
suggested that these and other species may be dependent 
on larval recruitment from the Houtman Abrolhos reefs. 

Low human populations generally restrict impacts on 
the reefs off the west coast of Australia, although there is 
some fishing in all areas. Around the Dampier and Monte 
Bello Islands there is increasing pearl oyster farming, 
petroleum exploitation and now some tourism, although 
the impacts of these are still not high. The Monte Bello 
Islands were used for British nuclear tests in 1952-56. The 
Ningaloo reefs were heavily fished until recently, however 
these reefs are now zoned and fishing is restricted to certain 
areas. These reefs were also reported to have been damaged 
by outbreaks of the coral eating Driipella snails in the 1970s 
and 1990s, but there now appears to be active recovery in 
most areas. Levels of tourism are relatively high around 
Shark Bay. The Houtman Abrolhos Islands were among the 
first parts of Australia to be settled by Europeans, at least 
temporarily, following a shipwreck and mutiny in 1629. The 
islands were heavily mined for guano until the late 1940s 
and now support a major, well managed commercial rock 
lobster fishery. Two large protected areas have been 
declared which provide at least some protection for the 
reefs in Ningaloo and Shark Bay. 

Cocos (Keeling) Islands and 
Christmas Island 

Far out in the Indian Ocean, Australia administers two other 
territories with important oceanic reef communities. Cocos 
(Keeling) consists of two atolls on the Cocos Rise, nearly 
mid-way between Australia and Sri Lanka. They are 
dominated by the southeast trade winds and swept by the 
westward flowing equatorial current most of the year, and 
are occasionally impacted by tropical cyclones. The main 
atoll of South Keeling is a little over 15 kilometers across, 
with a near continuous chain of 27 islands along much of its 
rim. Horsburgh Island in the north lies apart from the others, 
and holds a particularly important bird nesting colony. North 
Keeling (Pulu Keeling) is a much smaller atoll, about 3 
kilometers across with a single island almost completely 
encircling a shallow lagoon. The island itself is of con- 
siderable interest, being one of the few in the region with its 




original vegetation, mostly tall hardwood forest. It is also a 
very important seabird rookery. Some 525 species of fish 
have been recorded in the waters around the two atolls. 

These islands were in fact the only atolls where 
Charles Darwin ever landed during his voyage on the 
Beagk' (in 1836) and thus have a significant place in his 
development of a theory for atoll development (Chapter 1 ). 
There is a small resident population of predominantly 
Malaysian origin, living on two of the South Keeling 
Islands, but their impact on the reefs is considered 
minimal. A national park in North Keeling protects all the 
island, its surrounding reefs and waters. 

Christmas Island is a high, mountainous island some 15 
kilometers across, reaching a height of 359 meters. It lies 
about 300 kilometers south of Java. Fringing reefs surround 
much of It, with narrow reef flats typically 20-200 meters 
wide before a steep reef slope down to deep oceanic waters. 
While the reef faunas clearly contain Indian Ocean elements 
they show a close affinity to Southeast Asia. Diversity is 
somewhat limited by a moderate range of reef habitats. The 
island has important seabird nesting colonies, including 
the endemic Christmas Island frigatebird. Large numbers of 
crabs are also noted, including 13 land crabs, the best known 
of which are the red crabs Gecarcoidea natalis. which have 
a population of some 120 million individuals and undertake 
a famous annual mass migration to spawn in the sea. The 
resident population of some 2 000 people originally came to 
the island to mine its large phosphate deposits, and this 
continues, although it is strictly regulated. More recently a 
hotel and casino complex has been developed, drawing 
tourists from Southeast Asia. Over 60 percent of the island 
and much of the fringing reef is protected in a national park. 



Well developed and distinctive coral reef communities occur in tlie Houtman Abrolhos. Tiie purple coral is Acropora 
abrotanoides which is found in shallow reef areas right across the Indo-Pacific. while the green coral Acropora seriata 
has a disjunct distribution in southwest Australia, insular Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka only (photo. JEN Veronl. 



MAP lib 



■^J2!^Z 




Australia 



North Australia 



MAP lib 




North of Port Headland and Eighty Mile Beach 
the continental shelf of Australia widens con- 
siderably while the coastline of Indonesia and 
East Timor forms a northern boundary enclosing the 
Timor Sea. To the east of Darwin this continental shelf 
widens further still and connects Australia to New Guinea 
across the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. This is 
Australia's least known and least populated coastline. 
Wide areas are dominated by an intricate network of rivers 
and channels with extensive mangrove communities. To 
the east, in the Arafura Sea. the waters are shallow and 
turbid and there is little reef development. Fringing reefs 
are reported further west, but are very poorly described. 
The only reefs in this region which have received attention 
are those lying in the northwest on the continental shelf 
edge or just beyond. 

The Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Sermgapatam 
Reef are shelf edge atolls lying on the continental slope 
in clear oceanic waters. An extensive line of other reefs. 



mcluding Lynher, Carrier, Ashmore and Hibernia, lies just 
on the continental shelf, and it has been suggested that 
these may in fact be barrier structures. A number of 
deeper shoals on the shelf edge indicate that there may 
have been a more extensive barrier reef along this shelf 
during recent periods of lower sea level, but that only 
these structures kept up with rising sea levels. Tidal ranges 
are very high around these reefs and there is considerable 
wave energy, so the reef crests are dominated by coralline 
algae, while only compact coral formations have deve- 
loped on windward shores. This is also an area regularly 
affected by cyclones. 

Coral cover is typically high. In early 1995 hard coral 
cover averaged nearly 50 percent on reef slopes in Scott 
Reef and the Rowley Shoals, but cyclone damage later 
that same year caused a considerable reduction in this 
figure. Ashmore Reef has the greatest biodiversity in 
the region: some 255 species of hermatypic corals 
have been recorded, 747 fish. 433 molluscs and 192 
echinoderms. These compare with 213 hermatypic corals 
at Scott and Seringapatam Reefs and 184 at the Rowley 
Shoals. The region also probably has a greater diversity 
of sea snakes than anywhere else in the world, with 12 
species recorded at Ashmore Reef, three of which are 
thought to be endemic to the Ashmore. Carrier and Hibernia 
Reefs. Seabird nesting colonies are also extremely 
important and 17 species (with an estimated 50 000 pairs) 
have been recorded nesting on the islands of Ashmore. This 
area was strongly impacted by warm waters associated 
with the 1998 El Nino event. Widespread coral bleaching 
was followed by 80 percent mortality at some sites on 
Scon Reef 

The more northerly reefs lie relatively close to 
Indonesia and are regularly fished by Indonesians under 
a joint use agreement. Elsewhere, including near Scott 
Reef, there is some extraction of natural gas, and further 
exploratory drilling and the establishment of new oil and 
gas platforms could bring further human impacts to these 
otherwise remote reefs. There is also some fishing on all 
reefs, including collection of trochus, shark and other reef 
fish, although there is little detailed information available 
on its impacts. Diving on the Rowley Shoals is increas- 
ingly popular, and the reefs are widely regarded as 
offering some of the best diving in the region. Ashmore 
Reef and the Rowley Shoals all have some degree of legal 
protection, and there is ongoing monitoring of Scott Reef 
and the Rowley Shoals. 



Large colonies of blue coral Heliopora coerulea on Scott Reef, northwest Australia Iphoto: JEN Veronl. 



310 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Torres Strait and the Great 
Barrier Reef 



MAPS 11C, d and e 




The largest coral reef system in the world runs along 
the northeastern coastline of Australia, stretching 
from the Warrior Reefs in the northern Torres Strait 
for well over 2 000 kilometers to the Capricorn-Bunker 
group of reefs and islands in the south. Although many 
of the reefs which make up this system form part 
of a true barrier reef following the continental shelf on 
its outermost edge, the Great Barrier Reef is actually a 
highly complex system including nearly 3 000 separate 
reefs and coral shoals, as well as high islands with fring- 
ing reef systems. 

The origins of the Great Barrier Reef can largely be 
traced back some 2 million years, when continental drift 
brought the northern coastline of Australia into tropical 
latitudes and some minor reef development began. 
Widespread development is thought to be much more 
recent, however, and can largely be traced back within 
500 000 years, making it a much younger structure than 
many oceanic atolls. As with coral reefs the world over, 
periods of reef building were continually interrupted by 
changes in climate and shifting sea levels. Typically reef 
accretion was confined to relatively short periods of higher 
sea level when reef structures began to build up on the 
margins of the continental shelf As sea levels fell, the 



reefs died, became land, and were subject to erosion forces 
which in many places reduced their size again. High sea 
levels returned and allowed new reef growth, typically 
most prolific on the remaining structures of the earlier 
reefs. At the present time in geological history, sea levels 
are particularly high, such that the base of many of the 
present reefs lies in depths unsuitable for active reef growth. 
However, active reef building continues on the ancient 
structures and the reef continues to thrive. The most recent 
period of growth is probably only about 8 000 years. 

Patterns of currents are complex across the Great 
Barrier Reef One of the key driving forces is the South 
Equatorial Current which flows across the Coral Sea from 
the east. Where this meets the continental shelf it splits, 
forming the weak, northward flowing Hiri Current north 
of about 14°S and the southward flowing East Australia 
Current further south. These currents induce localized 
upwellings onto the shelf, and further have some influence 
on the current patterns across the continental shelf, 
although these are predominantly driven by prevailing 
winds. For much of the year the southeast trade winds 
predominate, driving northward flowing surface currents 
in all areas, although most strongly north of about 20°S. 
During the Northwest Monsoon (December-February) 



The northern edges of the Great Barrier Reef, showing the ribbon reefs with deltaic channels cutting through them 
lSTS049-75-i3. 19921 



MAP lie 



Boiga IS.J142- -7^ , "X. v' '' 

Talbot Is. o ■*_ 



145° 146° 

Gulf of Papua 



Gulf of 
Carpentaria 



12° 



' Talbot Is. 
(PNG) 



iQwaiiiaza Reef 



Gabbal. 



Saibai I. Ma7a\ 
(I) WMA 




144° 
Q Anchor Cay 

^ East Cay 



10° 



BaduL 



/lis . lAy Yonte is. ^ i 




Moal. 



o Three Sisters 



•a>^ 



\ HMS Pandora HShip 



-^- -z • Possession _ ■ - -V 

Thursday L^o- ■■;.- Island NP PugonfL^--^ ^' ■ 

Prince of Wales L(^^.„ ,,^ J^^ , ^ . ; .^— -^^s^-ra 

Endeavor ' Ymfc.Afemj^fe -: ~ . ^ ■' J ' :— "'J^ *'■-."■>.■ ^ 

zape^ - — - 

R/Ver FHFf • 




/-O Pcrtlock Reefs 



Pandora Passage 

" l/BootReef 




13° 



14° 




. /? Eastern 
'■''S Fields 



RaineL 

Great Detached Reef 
\ > Yule Detached Reef 



CORAL SEA 



■^er Arched 



■: CclebiBtioQ Reef 

Cape DiiectioD' J • * *?-'W V a^., „ , 
I •?>• ^NTijouReef 

''■ ^ •JA-Bow Reef 



^-, 




J 'Zt-^.i'"' ■» Great Banier Reef CoMP 

Silver Plains FHr' f/f ^^ & Wodd Heritage Site 

Magpie \-.'.--<^'^'^. \ 

\ 

- «^-tL; -^ " . , 

^—^ , ! > : ; ^: -^ ;.;-» -" isiandNP 



Flinders 
Group 

Princess ^muiu 

Princess Chariotle Bay FHR ''^'">{flj**i 

I German 

BarFisSs 



■''■> \ King L 

Inders - ■ -. ■ VjK}^-^ : 

oup NP -(•■:■ ^Br Ti 

7/icesj /Baliliist /^^l - "• *" • »i 
«irlone ^Head ••■ , ' _* ^ 

••««* ' NP f -v^ ■■■■ 1 

^ ) 



Hicks 
Reef 

V 



Nymph 
IsiandNP ^ 

Lizard 



AUSTRALIA 
(Queensland) 




Turtle' 
Group NP 



CapeBe<iford 



Cap^FlattolK 



144° 



two 

/s/aiTds 

::::::: jNP 

i..'^s.l , TTiree 

» w ■ I Islands 

rt" ^ wp 

^PP <WilliamsOD 
•ma> '"'i Reef 
Endeavour • » - i 

River NP • Coottown .^-* } 

Osterland Reef f o^^^"! 
Cedar Bay NP-. \ .Ni:-— ---. 

"-■-■ •' »* .j_ « '■-.Qiinis 

-' i;;'^:: :•; Rwf 

Pickeisgfflrerf^'--"-* '■ 4 „ i „ , 
" ----- Everfag Reef 

.»' V : 

Wet Tropics of Queensland "J 

Wortd Heritage Site ■^—^ Undine Reef 

• Reef™^- JOialReef 
Mossman»>g BattReef ',146° 



ft'- 



10° 



11" 



12° 



13" 



14° 



15° 



16" 



MAPud 




2 Barr Creek WetR 

3 Big Maria Creek EP 

4 Bohle River WetR 

5 Bowling Green Bay FHR 

6 Bowling Green Bay NP 

7 Cairns MP 

8 Cape Hiilsborougii NP 

9 Cape Upstart NP 

10 Cattle Creek WetR 

1 1 Centenary Lakes FisSs 

12 Clump Mountain NP 

13 Conway NP 

14 Dajiachy Creek FHR 

15 Edmund Kennedy NP 

16 Ella Bay NP 

17 FoamHShip 

IB Great Barrier Reef CoMP 

19 Green Island NP 

20 Grey Peaks NP 

21 Half Moon Creek WetR 

22 Halifax WetR 

23 Hlnchinbrook Island NP 



24 Hull River FHR 

25 Hull River NP 

26 Undeman Islands NP 

27 Magnetic Island NP 

28 Maria Creek NP 

29 Meunga Creek FHR 

30 Midge WetR 

31 Murray River FHR 

32 Nevwy Islands NP 

33 Orpheus Island NP 

34 Palm Creek WetR 

35 Repulse Bay FHR 

36 Repulse FHR 

37 Sand Bay FHR 

38 Townsville / Whitsunday M 

39 Townsville Town Common CP 

40 Trinity Inlet WetR 

41 Tully River FHR 

42 Whitsunday Islands NP 

43 Wreck Creek FHR 

44 YongalaHShip 

45 Yorkeys Creek WetR 



Australia 



currents are reversed with a weak southward flowing 
current in the north, but stronger in more southerly 
latitudes. These patterns of current flow are altered by 
patterns of tidal flow, particularly in the areas of more 
complex reef networks, but there remains a predominant 
pattern of water movements along the continental shelf, 
with little cross-shelf movement. 

Although best seen as a continuous reef complex, it 
is possible to distinguish a number of ecological regions 
within the Great Barrier Reef. 



Torres Strait 

In the far north of Australia the continental shelf forms a 
wide connecting platform across the Torres Strait to Papua 
New Guinea. As most of the islands in the Torres Strait 
fall under Australian jurisdiction so do the reefs and 
waters of the Strait. There is considerable freshwater and 
sediment input from the Papua New Guinea coastline, 
however there are several very extensive platform reefs 
across the relatively shallow waters of the Strait. The 
westernmost areas have the shallowest and most turbid 
waters. A large chain of reefs runs between Prince of 
Wales Island and Moa Island. Like other reefs in the area, 
these show a very clear east-west alignment associated 
with the high velocity tidal currents running through the 
area. The Warrior Reefs further to the north and east run 
in a chain towards the coastal town of Daru in Papua New 
Guinea. Sediment loads are high in this area, and much of 
the shallow surface of these reefs is dominated by soft 
muds, although they are fringed by coral on their eastern 
margins. Finally there is a wide area of platform reefs 
around Darnley Island, stretching out towards the edge of 
the continental shelf and the near continuous line of reefs 
which mark the northern edge of the outer barrier reef. 

Northern section 

Due east of Cape York the continental shelf remains wide, 
but it then narrows rapidly towards Raine Island and con- 
tinues as a platform typically less than 50 kilometers wide. 
The most distinctive feature of this sector of the Great 
Barrier Reef is the well developed ribbon-type barrier reefs 
on the outer edge: long narrow ribbon reefs typically less 
than 500 meters wide but extending up to 25 kilometers 
in length and separated by relatively narrow passes. They 
are located right on the edge of the continental shelf, 
and depths drop rapidly to over 1 000 meters only a few 
hundred meters from the eastern edges of some reefs. For 
about 80 kilometers, in the northernmost sector of these 
ribbon reefs, there are spectacular deltaic formations in the 
channels between the reefs. Rather like river deltas, these 
have been formed in the calmer waters behind the reef 
by the deposition of sediments from the powerful currents 



which flow between the reefs. The banks of sediments have 
then formed a substrate for new reef development. 

Inshore of the ribbon reefs there are well developed 
mid-shelf and inner shelf reefs, while there are also 
wide areas of submerged //a/imei/a-dominated shoals 
and banks. This is one of the only areas where there are 
fringing reefs directly adjacent to the mainland coast, 
although coral cover and diversity are limited. Raine 
Island just off the continental shelf has the largest nesting 
populations of green turtles in the world as well as some 
of the most important seabird rookeries. There are only 
a few high islands on the continental shelf, notably the 
Flinders group and Lizard Island. These have important 
and extensive fringing reefs. 

Central section 

This section extends from Mossman in the north to the 
barrier reef offshore from the Whitsunday and Lindeman 
Islands. Over this area the continental shelf gradually 
widens, with reef development largely restricted to its 
outer third. Closer to the mainland the waters are subject 
to considerable fluctuations in turbidity and salinity due 
to the seasonal flooding of rivers. The reefs in this area 
are younger than those to the north. Many have lower and 
less extensive reef flats, and coral cays are largely absent, 
while their outer reef crests are often only clearly dev- 
eloped on the windward southeastern margins. Overall the 
reefs are less tightly packed and hence do not form such a 
continuous barrier The main reefs are also set back a little 
from the true edge of the continental shelf, although there 
are several reefal shoals close to the outer shelf margin 
which rise to within 10 meters or so of the surface and 
have active coral growth. Over relatively short geological 
timescales these could evolve into ribbon reef systems 
similar to those observed to the north. In addition to the 
barrier reef structures there are important fringing reef 
communities associated with a number of high island 
groups, notably the Palm Islands and the Whitsunday and 
Lindeman Islands to the south. 

The Swain and Pompey 
Connplexes 

This is the sector of the Great Barrier Reef where the 
continental shelf is at its widest and the main reefs are 
furthest from shore. The Pompey Complex has a number 
of submerged reefs on the edge of the continental shelf. 
However, about 10 kilometers back from this edge is a 
vast and complex array of very large reef platforms 
separated by countless meandering channels making a 
nearly solid mass of reefs nearly 200 kilometers in length 
and up to 20 kilometers wide. The high tidal range in this 
area drives strong currents reaching up to 10 knots, which 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




scour many of the channels between the reefs. Within the 
lagoons of individual reefs there are complex patterns of 
channels and mid-reef coral ridges. To the south the Swain 
Reefs form a second distinctive complex, dominated by 
many much smaller and even more closely spaced reefs 
where large numbers of small coral cays have developed. 
Inshore of the main Swain and Pompey Complexes reef 
development is limited, however there are some reefs 
close to the mainland and associated with island groups 
such as the Northumberland Islands and Percy Isles. 



The Capricorn-Bunker group 

South of the Swain Reefs Complex the contmental shelf 
rapidly narrows again and the southernmost reefs of the 
Great Barrier Reef, the Capricorn-Bunker group, lie a 
little over 50 kilometers offshore. This is a relatively small 
complex, well defined with steeply sloping reef edges and 
deep inter-reefal waters. There are several well developed 
coral cays, including One Tree Island and Heron Island, 
which are among the best known reefs of the entire Great 
Barrier Reef These reefs acmally traverse the tropic of 
Capricorn and cooler waters are largely responsible for the 
lower coral diversities found here. 



Biodiversity 



Levels of diversity are generally very high in the Great 
Barrier Reef, with some 350 coral species, 1 500-2 000 
species of fish, and over 4 000 species of mollusc. While 
these large numbers may be partly a function of the fact 
that this area has been intensively studied by scientists for 
many years, it is further related to the vast area of reefs 
as well as the great diversity of reef types and physical 



conditions. Over such a large area it is impossible to gen- 
eralize about coral cover. However, it should be noted that 
cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish clearly impact such 
statistics. The central areas of the Great Barrier Reef are 
the most affected by both of these phenomena, and many 
reefs in these parts have relatively low levels of coral 
cover when compared to reefs elsewhere in the world. This 
may well be their natural state, which clearly points to the 
caution which must be exercised when utilizing measures 
of coral cover as an expression of reef health. 

As might be expected with any reef system traversing 
such a wide latitudinal range, there is a gradual diminution 
of species diversity towards higher latitudes. While most of 
the 350 coral species are recorded in the north, only about 
244 species are recorded further south. Even more notable 
are cross-shelf differences. Close to the mainland there are 
high levels of nutrient inputs, sediments and freshwater, 
while offshore such inputs diminish and conditions on 
the outer reefs can be considered near oceanic, with low 
levels of nutrients and clear waters. These differences have 
led to considerable variation in the species assemblages 
depending on their location on the continental shelf Such 
differences are further maintained by the patterns of water 
movement in the Great Barrier Reef generally north-south 
with little cross-shelf transport. 

As mentioned in Chapter 1. many corals reproduce 
in a mass spawning event which takes place once a year. 
While this is globally widespread, it was first observed and 
is best documented on the Great Barrier Reef For a few 
nights after a particular full moon in the late austral 
spring (typically November) the majority of scleractinian 
coral species, together with many other reef organisms 
including sponges, holothurians, polychaetes and giant 
clams, undergo a mass spawning event. This is highly 



Left: To the south the coastai shelf of the Great Barrier Reef widens considerably around the vast complex of the Swain 
and Pompey Reefs, before narrowing again around the small Capricorn group ISTS043-151-77, 19911. Right: The beaked 
butterflyfish Chelmon rostratus is found across Southeast Asia and the Great Barrier Reef 



MAP lie 






150° 



151° 



Q Manon Reef 



20' 



Whitsunday L 



I Hook i.—^ 
Reef j^l 

Hardy i : y "W? .'a 

Hewitt Reef- - -J^ • f 

--.r.t,...-; Edid) ^ V 

^HookL Whitsunday * A ••nT<«& * ^ j^ 

>•■ ,33 Group SqiareReof^ / 9jk ' tf* 

<■ ^t'?^-' Haslewoodt 

^'^"?,: r;?-;.,<7Lindemanls. 

■ ' : /-^ aawl. CredinReeS, 

Repulse 

Bay 
•24 ' ; Linne L 

GDldmiihl- ' P""**:' Cumberland 

,4 <> " Group 

A^BramrtonX 

""Vi- St Bees t 

~ #. Pennthl* 

26 ,, , A 
MaidcayT 



1 ■ '.': Line 
■ : i: Reef 






N 

+ 



iS 



^ 



i CORAL SEA 



2D' 



««r >^ 



•/IT 

StevemReef 



if Boulton 
- * Reef 




22° 



V . .^Beverly Group „„BpurL 

V ^ >:•>;-;•.•;;:■ - 

/ -^ ■•'•'•'•■■ • Pine Peak i. 
/ / 

6\^" "^ Curlew L ' n i i 

'. / ..^.Jl . Percy Isles 

-o.' Northumberland '*'^"- 

Islands South L 

22-^%^ '' ^" Bedwell Group 

3-fV -- 




^ . • ^^ • " ' ■ : * ' --^ .;?- BacchiCay 

■ Bell Cay ^ l^.'- :'■ :'■'* _** ,"1 • . *. Blue Lion Reef 



v-\ 



'• ^1 ToWDsend L 



if ■ W-i 

^ Alain ▼* 



Hight Peak 1. 



% 



23° 



IM" 



1^ 



Shoalwater and 
Carlo Bays 
Ramsar Site 



Great Barrier Reef CoMP 
S. Woiid Heritage Site 



Karameg Bank 



Moresby Bank . ' 



:lT^ :-::''-*•■*'•■' -=*1.-' SBic0jaiyi22° 
Horseshoe, ./--••■^""'V -"^^'1 

Haclde . ' 

Rccr— - ' «/ SweethpRcef 



Capricorn 
Channel 



AUSTRALIA 
(Queensland) 




S 



Of.- 



SouAKeppelL 



North KeppelL Habetfield Shoal ^—^ 

Yeppoon; " »~- Douglas Shoal 

20 J---*® 

JSl^*^ Broomfield . 
North West Ufl*™*!* ^ ; Rfcf Capncom 

RockhamptonS f5 ' : < 

"■^ Xg7/)e/ ' Wstari Reef^naMJ' Sjies Reef 

>,-.^ ^■*rf^«-v^...; ;....::.... ,:.. ♦i .— OneTreel 



:23' 



rroup 










No. Protected Area Name 






1 Barubbra Island CP 


19 MarronWetR 




2 Broati Sound FHR 


20 Middle Island FisSs 




3 Boyne Creek WetR 


21 Mouth Of Baffle Creek 




4 Cape Hillsborough NP 


22 Newport CP 




6 Cape Palmereton FHR 


23 Newry Islands NP 




6 Cape Palmerston NP 


24 Repulse FHR 




7 CamiillaWetR 


25 Rocky Dam WetR 




8 Colosseum FHR 


26 Rodds Hartjour FHR 




9 Conway NP 


27 Round Hill FHR 




10 CorloBayFHR 


26 Sand Bay FHR 




1 1 Eurimbula RessR 


29 Seventeen Seventy WetR 




12 Great Barrier Reef CoMP 


30 Turkey WetR 




13 Hays Inlet FHR 


31 West Hill FHR 




14 HervayBayMP 


32 West Hill NP 




15 Keppel Sands CP 


33 Whitsunday Islands NP 




16 Kolan River WetR 


34 Wild Cattle WetR 




17 LIndeman Islands NP 


35 Wild Duck Island NP 




18 Maokay / Capricorn MP 


36 Woongarra MP 








jr>';>;::::::::s**^ 

Maslheadl.' "' J» 

. u"-' - FiEroyReef*;;^ UeweUynR«f 

vf- 



Curtis 
Facing L Channel 
26 



HoskynlE. Bunker 



■34 



8^^ 



r^^-t-^--::;: 



Fairfax U/^ Group 

Lady Musgrave L 



30 1lTt- 

13 \ • 



'. ^LidyEDiof L t 



29 



24° 



^ 



149° 



150° 



20 4 60 80 10 km 
151° 152° 



Bundabergr \» 



.14 



I 25" 

153° 



316 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




synchronized, with individuals of the same species 
releasing eggs and sperm often within minutes of one 
another over wide areas of the reef The phenomenon was 
only first observed in November 1982, and yet is one of the 
most spectacular events on any coral reef Vast numbers of 
eggs and sperm are released and form massive slicks on the 
sea surface. The spawning allows for cross-fertilization 
between colonies, while the massive scale of such an event 
ensures that would-be predators are fully satiated, thereby 
increasing the chances of survival of individual larvae. 

In addition to its considerable diversity in terms of 
coral reef organisms, the Great Barrier Reef is also an 
extremely important region for other marine and coastal 
ecosystems, most notably seagrass and mangrove 
communities. Mangroves generally lie a considerable 
distance from coral reef communities - with the exception 
of a few fringing reef systems. But some 37 mangrove 
species from 19 families have been recorded at the Great 
Barrier Reef, with the highest levels of diversity in the "wet 
tropics'" north of Cairns. Seagrass communities are also 
widespread, with some 3 000 square kilometers of mapped 
shallow seagrasses, and an estimate of at least 2 000 square 
kilometers of deep (>15 meters) seagrasses. Both seagrass 
beds and mangroves are extensively used as breeding and 
nursery grounds by many species, including a number of 
commercially important species, and some reef species. 
Seagrass beds are also important for some turtle species as 
well as large populations of dugongs. Green, hawksbill. 



loggerhead and flatback turtles all nest in considerable 
numbers in the region. Unfortunately, with the exception 
of the flatback turtle, most individuals spend substantial 
amounts of time in neighboring countries where they are 
severely threatened by direct hunting and indirect killing, 
notably as fisheries by-catch. There are globally important 
populations of dugongs in the region. While there is some 
traditional hunting of these by Aboriginal and Torres Strait 
Islander communities the northern population of some 
8 000 individuals is considered stable. By contrast, the 
smaller southern population of about 3 500 individuals 
is now declining, largely as a result of deaths associated 
with boat collisions, entanglement in gill nets, and also 
entanglement in shark nets placed near swimming beaches. 
In addition some 26 species of cetacean are resident or 
visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, including significant 
numbers of humpback whales which breed in the southern 
and central waters. 

There are important seabird communities on the 
Great Barrier Reef with over 55 major nesting islands and 
1.4-1.7 million breeding birds from some 23 species, with 
a further 32 non-breeding species. Most of these islands 
are in the north and south, with around 75 percent of the 
total seabird biomass in the Capricorn-Bunker group. 

The Great Barrier Reef has been one of the regions 
most extensively impacted by the crown-of-thorns 
starfish, with the first mass outbreak of this predator 
observed on Green Island, off Cairns, in 1962. The 
possible causes of these outbreaks have been debated for 
some time (see Chapter 2), with much of the work having 
been conducted on the Great Barrier Reef While there is 
still much to learn about these outbreaks, it is clear that 
they have had a significant impact on the ecology of the 
region, causing apparently periodic massive losses of live 
coral cover. Most outbreaks have been recorded in the 
central sections of the Great Barrier Reef The 1998 
bleaching event also impacted a number of reefs, most 
notably in the inner shelf areas where some 25 percent of 
reefs showed bleaching of 60 percent or greater. Overall, 
bleaching was worst in the central sections of the Great 
Barrier Reef while outer reefs generally showed only low 
levels of bleaching. Mortality was generally low, although 
some inshore fringing reefs suffered greatly. 



Socio-economic considerations 

In general the Great Barrier Reef is not heavily affected 
by human activities, but there are some concerns that 
deforestation, poor agricultural practices and high con- 
centrations of agricultural chemicals and nutrients in 
terrestrial runoff may have some impacts, particularly on 
those reefs closest to the mainland. The majority of reefs, 
however, are far offshore and this, combined with the 
prevailing long-shore currents, reduces the effects of land- 



Spinner dolphins Stenella longirostris. 



Australia 



based sediments and pollutants. The distance from the 
mainland of most reefs also makes access more difficult, 
while the coastal population adjacent to the reef is small 
overall and does not generally exert a very large direct 
impact on the reefs, except for some commercial fisheries. 

The utilization of marine and coastal resources has 
a long tradition among the Aboriginal inhabitants of 
Australia. Further north in Cape York and the Torres 
Strait, the Torres Strait Islanders, who are of different 
ethnographic origin, have also been great users of reef 
resources. Following European colonization the numbers 
of these peoples diminished and many of their traditional 
ways of life broke down. There remain some 1 1 Torres 
Strait Islander and Aborigmal communities, mostly in the 
far north, with a population of about 1 1 000, together with 
a slightly larger number in urban areas. A small proportion 
still engage in hunting and fishing on the reef, however 
their impact, even on such species as dugongs and turtles, 
is probably still at sustainable levels. 

Utilization of marine resources by the wider pop- 
ulation is far more significant than that by indigenous 
communities. Recreational fishing is extremely popular, 
although it typically targets the reefs closest to the 
mainland and near the major population centers. The 
recreational fishing catch has been estimated at 3 500- 
4 300 tons per year. Commercial reef fish exploitation is 
predominantly a line fishery concentrated on groupers 
("coral trout") and emperors, with a combined annual 
catch of some 3 000-4 000 tons. Part of this is for the 
live fish trade, with groupers being air-freighted to the 
Far East, notably Hong Kong. There is also an important 
lobster fishery to the north, collecting some 50-200 tons 
annually, and a separate fishery operating in the Torres 
Strait. In addition there are some fairly small-scale 
fisheries associated with the aquarium trade, trochus and 
sea cucumber The most important commercial fishing 
within the Great Barrier Reef area is actually trawling, 
with some 840 licensed vessels, typically landing prawns 
(5 000-6 500 tons), fish (1 500 tons), scallops (200-1 000 
tons) and other crustaceans (500 tons). There are some 
concerns over the size of the by-catch (typically over 50 
percent and sometimes as much as 90 percent of hauls), 
which includes benthic organisms, fish, and even sea 
snakes and turtles, and over the wider impacts on benthic 
communities, particularly in areas of repetitive trawling. 
Trawling is not permitted over known seagrass commu- 
nities and in a few other protected areas, however illegal 
trawling still occurs. There is evidence of overfishing of 
some target reef fish species, although this is mostly on a 
small scale and restricted in spatial extent. 

The vast majority of the Great Barrier Reef receives 
protection as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the 
world's second largest protected area. This covers most 
of the lagoon and all of the offshore reefs from the 



Capricorn-Bunker group to the northern tip of Cape York 
Peninsula. A large proportion of the remaining coastal 
waters and terrestrial areas of offshore islands which are 
not covered by the park fall within other protected areas. 
The park itself is zoned. About 80 percent of its total area 
is open for general use including commercial fishing and 
trawling (with permits), and a further 16 percent is also 
for general use but with trawling prohibited. Only about 
5 percent is closed to fishing activities, but this includes 
over 120 reefs (about 12 percent of the total). The park is 
managed by a specially designated federal agency, the 
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in collabor- 
ation with the Queensland Department of Environment 
and Heritage. Between them, these organizations employ 
some 210 staff with an operating budget of Au$27.2 
million in 1998-99. About 30 percent of this budget is 
provided by an environmental management charge levied 
on all visitors to the park. For administrative purposes 
the park is divided into four broad sectors. Detailed 
management plans have been developed for particular 
localities, while an overall 25-year strategic plan has been 
developed in collaboration with the major stakeholders. 

Active scientific research within the Great Barrier 
Reef is carried out by a number of organizations, includ- 
ing several universities and the management authorities, 
however the major research institution which undertakes 
monitoring and core scientific research is the Australian 
Institute of Marine Science based in Townsville. 

The reefs of the Torres Strait lie outside the Great 
Barrier Reef Marine Park and do not fall under any strict 
legal protection, although a fisheries management agree- 
ment has been developed with Papua New Guinea. 
Overfishing is certainly a pressure within the region, 
while there remains a significant potential threat of 
pollution, both from the mines in Papua New Guinea and 
from oil spills associated with the relatively heavy 
shipping traffic in the strait. 




The fringing reef on Orpheus Island in the Palm Islands. 



MAP 11f 



147° 



150° 



N 



13° 



-Osprey Reef 
Shark Reef 



•IP;'', 



• Bougainville Reef 



/K.Bundab6ffg 

26* 
(Queensland) 

ii 

Brisbane > 

' * 



^^:; 



lord MnitfKr^ -•'- Lord Howe 

LoniHowci. Island MP 

Lord 

Howe 

'^J"{, Ball's ; , 

'^"'^ Pyramid ; 

10 20 X km '» 



H^Cr.^ 



PACl FIC OCEAN 



(New South 
Wales) 



Solitaiyls. 



"il Elizabeth Reef 
I f 

■^■— ■ Middleton Reef 



LordH(MrelirV\ i 



T AS MAN SEA 



168'48' 159'12' 

' r«»-'' 

BOabelh 
end Mi0dleton 
y-AK FeofaNNR 



10 20 30 ton 



Norfolk L 
Philip L 



13' 



if Diane Bank 



16° 




^ p Holmes Reef 
• Flora Reef 



Willis Group 
Coringa - HeraldNNR 



CORAL SEA 



^vn;>M 



*- *; 



4'. 



Dart Reef, -Herald Surprise Diamond Islets •, « 
1,. Tregrosse Islets and Reefs ■ 



* 



Flinders Reefs 




LihouReefNNR 



MellishReef > 



19° 



■ mill 0'. -^ 



-yi- 



Great Barrier Reef CoMP 
& World Heritage Site 



Wet Tropics of 

Queensland 

World Heritage Site 



BoweP. ,, ^ 



Lihou Reef 
and Cays 



'J Manon Reef 



19" 



1 Jilt- 
Ayr 



' Charters Towners 



Proserpine "5* '^ 



If ^ 



Mackay 







Frederick Reef . 



22° 



■^^r.:^.^>...;.. 







Porpoise Cay 
) IVrec* HSh/p HMS 



^H 



SaumarezReef 

Wreck Reef ' 



KemiReef J 

HM. 
' Porpoise 
HShip 



Stioalwater and Corio . ' 
Bays Ramsar Site 

Yeppoon ' 

Rockhampton'SI 
erald '^^ 



Br. 



Capricorn 
Channel 



Cato HShip -^ 

Cato 



BoyneCreek WetR 



n 



^*^:, 



• Blackall 



AUSTRALIA 
(Queensland) 



25° 



Kolan River WetR 
Woongarra MP 
Barvbbra island 



CP -'-' Sii^-r- Hervay Bay MP I ^ 

..V .;^:.i.; ' *■ Aartius HSH" i — - 

//.'■•Str- -.?.'■ See/b; FHR 



Aartius HShip 
Gregory WetR " 

Cherwell - Burwm WetR ^-j' ^ - Burwm - Toogoom WetR 

Bunvm - Iris FHR ..•■•- '.^-''If- ... Fraser Island WetR 



Susan River FHR' 



40 80 120 160 200 km 
147° 



Great Sandy Strait (including Great Sandy 
Strait. Tin Can Bay and Tin Can inlet) Ramsar Site 



ay 
150' 



Maaroom FHR 

Fraser Island 
World Heritage Site 



Ja. 



156* 



Australia 319 



The Coral Sea 



MAPnf 





Due east of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres 
Strait, Australia holds jurisdiction of a large 
number of reef formations lying some distance off 
the continental shelf In the far north close to Papua New 
Guinea these include the Portlock Reefs and Eastern 
Fields. The majority of the remainder are located in an area 
known as the Coral Sea Plateau. Most are atoll formations, 
stretching from Osprey Reef in the north to Saumarez 
Reef in the south. Some are substantial in area - Lihou 
Reef is a long oval reef structure totalling nearly 2 500 
square kilometers. In addition, a number of other reefs lie 
further south or east, off the Coral Sea Plateau, including 
Mellish, Frederick, Kenn, Wreck and Cato Reefs. 

Information about these reefs remains relatively 
scant, and they have only been visited by a small number 
of expeditionary research units. In general they have 



relatively low coral cover, with maximum estimates of 
19-26 percent hard coral cover. In contrast, both coralline 
algae and sponges make up a considerable proportion of 
the substrate. Total algal cover is often greater than coral 
cover. The molluscan fauna is very diverse, with over 730 
species listed from the areas around North East Herald 
Cay alone. Around this same island some 356 fish species 
have been recorded. There are very important bird nesting 
colonies on some of the coral cays, while the beaches are 
widely utilized by nesting turtles. 

A small number of dive operators take tourists out to 
the reefs of the Coral Sea, renowned for the water clarity 
and wide diversity of near pristine marine life. A number 
of reefs in the central Coral Sea area are protected. 
Although not under constant surveillance, they, and many 
other reefs in the region, benefit from their remote location. 



Left: The vast atoll structure of Lihou Reef in the Coral Sea lSTS0i6-90-9. 19921 Right, above: A trumpet emperor Lethrinus 
minlatus with extensive branching corals. Right, below/: This coral recruit is only 15 millimeters in diameter and probably 
only a few months old, yet over decades or centuries colonies may reach several meters across. 



320 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



High latitude reefs 



MAPllf 




South of the Great Barrier Reef there are several reefs 
and coral communities at high latitudes. The south 
flowing East Australia Current has an important 
role to play in maintaining these communities, bringing 
warm waters as well as the potential for new larval recruits 
to settle on the reefs. 

Lord Howe Island is a high volcanic island with a reef 
structure extending for some 6 kilometers along its western 
side. This is the most southerly coral reef in the world, 
lying beyond 31°S. Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs are 
platform reefs lying on older volcanic seamounts which 
form a chain to the north of Lord Howe Island. On the 
mainland coast there are no true coral reefs. Flinders Reef, 
east of Brisbane, is a sandstone structure, but has been 
colonized by a range of tropical corals and other species. 
Further south, the Solitary Islands also have important coral 
communities. There are also many smaller benthic commu- 
nities with coral reef species elsewhere along the coastline 
of South Queensland and northern New South Wales. 

Biodiversity is low in these areas, but they remain 
of significance as they represent the ecological limits of 
many species. The offshore reefs are also of interest 
because of their considerable isolation. Elizabeth and 
Middleton Reefs have 122 species of reef coral while Lord 



Howe Island has 65 species. Some of these, particularly at 
Lord Howe Island, are thought to be temporary popula- 
tions dependent on recruitment of new individuals from 



Australia ^ 


|H 


General Data 






Population Ithousandsl 




19 165 


GDP (million US$1 




359 913 


Land area Ikm^l 




7 706 304 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




7 437 


Per capita fish consumption 


( kg/year] 


19 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk I%1 




32 


Recorded coral diseases 




6 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^j 




48 960 


Coral diversity 




428/461 


Mangrove area Ikm^l 




11 500 


No. of mangrove species 




39 


No. of seagrass species 




21 



Interesting and important coral communities have developed at high latitudes around islands to the east of Australia, 
including the remote Norfolk Island. This species Porites heronensis is a high latitude species, also recorded on the reefs 
of Japan, although absent from the reefs of central Southeast Asia Iphoto: JEN Veronl. 



Australia 



more northerly sources of larvae. Some 477 species of 
fish have been recorded at Lord Howe Island - for the 
most part tropical but also including some temperate 
species. Endemism is relatively high, with about 4 percent 
of the fish unique to Lord Howe, Elizabeth and Middleton 
Reefs. An outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish in 
the 1980s caused extensive damage to both Elizabeth and 
Middleton Reefs, considerably reducing coral cover, par- 
ticularly on the outer reef slopes. 

On the mainland coast, biodiversity in the Flinders Reef 
is thought to rival that of the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, 
although it remains poorly documented. The Solitary Islands 
are of more particular interest as they maintain a balance 
of tropical and temperate species. Only 53 reef coral species 



are recorded, and some 280 fish of which 80 percent are 
considered tropical. The islands are also noted for their 
large populations of sea anemones with their resident 
clownfishes. Little penguins also nest in the islands 
making this, with the Galapagos, one of the only places 
where this group of predominantly Antarctic species may 
be found near coral reef species. 

Most of these reefs and coral communities have some 
form of legal protection. Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs 
are a marine reserve, while their isolation protects them 
from large numbers of visitors. Lord Howe Island has a 
resident population of about 300, and while tourism 
provides the mainstay of the economy, total numbers are 
limited and any impacts on the reef are small. 



I 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name ^^^^^^^^^^B Designation 



i Abbreviation lUCN cat. Size ikm:) Year! 



Australia 












Ashnnore Reef 


National Nature Reserve 


NNR 


la 


583.00 


1983 


Christmas Island 


National Park 


MP 


II 


87.00 


1990 


Cobourg 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


2 290.00 


1983 


Coringa - Herald 


National Nature Reserve 


NNR 


la 


8 856.00 


1983 


Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs 


National Nature Reserve 


NNR 


la 


1 880.00 


1987 


Emden 


Historic Shipwreck 
Protected Zone 


HSPZ 


Unassigi 


ned LOO 


1982 


Great Barrier Reef 


Commonwealth Marine Park 


CoMP 


VI 


3M 800.00 


1979 


Lihou Reef 


National Nature Reserve 


NNR 


la 


8/136.91 


1982 


Lord Howe Island 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


^80.00 


2000 


Mermaid Reef 


National Nature Reserve 


NNR 


la 


539.84 


1991 


Ningaloo 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


2 255.64 


1987 


Pulu Keeling 


Commonwealth National Park 


CoNP 


II 


26.02 


1995 


Rowley Shoals 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


232.50 


1990 


Shark Bay 


Marine Park 


MP 


VI 


7 487.35 


1990 


Solitary Islands 


Marine Reserve 


MR 


VI 


1 000.00 


1991 


South West Solitary Island 


Nature Reserve 


NR 


la 


0.03 


1961 


Yongala 


Historic Shipwreck 


HShip 


Unassigi 


ned 0.78 


1982 


Cobourg Peninsula 


Ramsar Site 






2 207.00 


1974 


Great Barrier Reef 


World Heritage Site 






348 700.00 


1981 


Lord Howe Island Group 


World Heritage Site 






11.76 


1982 


Moreton Bay 


Ramsar Site 






1 133.14 


1993 


Pulu Keeling National Park 


Ramsar Site 






1.22 


1996 


Shark Bay Western Australia 


World Heritage Site 






21 973.00 


1991 


Shoalwater and Corio Bays 


Ramsar Site 






2 391.00 


1996 



322 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Selected bibliography 



Collins LB, Zhu ZR, Wyrwoll K-H 119971. Geology of the 

Houtman Abrolhos. In: Vacher HL, Quinn T ledsl. 

Developments in Sedimentoiogy, 54: Geology and Hydrology 

of Carbonate Islands. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, 

Netherlands. 
Done TJ (19821. Patterns in the distribution of coral 

communities across the Central Great Barrier Reef. Coral 

ffeefe 1:95-107. 
Gladstone W, Dight U (19941. Torres Strait baseline study. Mar 

PollBul29: 121-125. 
Hatcher BG (19851. Ecological research at the Houtman's 

Abrolhos: high latitude reefs of Western Australia. Proc 5(h 

Int Coral Reef Symp 6: 291-297. 
Hearn CJ, Parker IN (1988). Hydrodynamic processes on the 

Nmgaloo coral reef, Western Australia. Proc 8tfi Int Coral 

Ree/' Symp 2: 497-502. 
Heyward AJ, Halford A, Smith L, Williams DMcB (1998]. Coral 

reefs of north west Australia; baseline monitoring of an 

oceanic reef ecosystem. Proc 8tti Int Coral Reef Symp 1 : 289- 

294. 
Hopley D (19821. Tfie Geomorpfiologyof the Great Barrier Reef: 

Quarternary Development of Coral Reefs. John Wiley and 

Sons, New York, USA. 
Marsh LM (19921. The occurrence and growth of Acropora in 

extra-tropical waters off Perth, Western Australia. Proc 7thi 

Int Coral Reef Symp 2: 1233-1238. 
Playford RE (19971. Geology and hydrogeology of Rottnest 

Island, Western Australia. In: Vacher HL, Quinn T (edsl. 

Developments in Sedimentology, 54: Geology and Hydrology 

of Carbonate Islands. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, 

Netherlands. 
Randall JE, Allen GR, Steene RC (1997). Fishes of the Great 

Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, 2nd edn. Crawford House 

Publishing Pty Ltd, Bathurst, Australia. 
Stoddart DR, Yonge M (eds) (1978). The Northern Great Barrier 

Reef. The Royal Society, London, UK. 
Sudara S, Wilkinson CR, Ming CL (eds) (1994). Proceedings, 

Third ASEAN -Australia Symposium on Living Coastal 

Resources. Volume 2: Research Papers. Australian Institute 

of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 
Sweatman H, Bass D, Cheat A, Coleman G, Miller I, Ninio R, 

Osborne K, Oxley W, Ryan D, Thompson A, Tomkins P (1998). 

Long-Term Monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef. Australian 

Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 
Veron JEN (1986). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. 

University of Hawaii Press. 1993 edn, Angus and Robertson, 

North Ryde, Australia. 
Veron JEN (2000). Corals of the World. 3 vols. Australian 

Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 
Wilkinson CR, Cheshire AC (1988). Cross-shelf variations in 

coral reef structure and function - influences of land and 

ocean. Proc 6th Int Coral Reef Symp 1 : 227-233. 
Wilkinson CR, Sudara S, Ming CL (eds) (1994). Proceedings, 

Third ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living Coastal 

Resources. Volume 1: Status Reviews. Australian Institute of 

Marine Science, Townsville, Australia. 
Williams DMcB, Hatcher Al (1983). Structure of fish 

communities on outer slopes of inshore, mid-shelf and outer 

shelf reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 10: 

239-250. 



Woodroffe CD, Falkland AC (1997). Geology and hydrogeology 

of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In: Vacher HL, Quinn T leds). 

Developments in Sedimentology. 54: Geology and Hydrology 

of Carbonate Islands. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, 

Netherlands. 
Zann LP (1995). Our Sea, Our Future. State of the Marine 

Environment Report, 1995. Department of the Environment, 

Sport and Territories, Canberra, Australia. 
Zann LP (2000). North Eastern Australia: the Great Barrier 

Reef region. In: Sheppard C [edi. Seas at the Millennium: An 

Environmental Evaluation, Vol 2. Elsevier Science Ltd, 

Oxford, UK. 
Zell L (1999). Diving and Snorkelling Australia's Great Barrier 

Reef. Lonely Planet Publications, Melbourne, Australia, 



Map sources 

Map 11a 

For Cocos [Keeling! coral reef areas have been copied 
from a 1:100 000 source map (full reference unavailable, 
but source was a scanned paper map available on 
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/ 
islands_oceans_poles/Cocos|Keeling]_76.jpg). 

The available data for Christmas Island were poor, so reefs 
have simply been plotted as a line running immediately 
offshore from the island. In reality this represents an 
exaggeration of the true reef area. All remaining areas are 
taken from Petroconsultants SA (1990)*. 

Map lib 

Coral features are taken as arcs from Petroconsultants SA 
(19901'. 

Maps 1 1c, d and e 

For the Great Barrier Reef, coral reef areas were generously 
supplied Im 19951 by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park 
Authority at 1:250 000. For the reefs of the Torres Strait, data 
are taken from Petroconsultants SA (1990)*. 

Mapllf 

Coral features are taken as arcs from Petroconsultants SA 
11990)*. 



* See Technical notes, page 401 



Melanesia 323 



Chapter 12 
Melanesia 




Melanesia occupies a wide swathe of the 
southwestern Pacific Ocean, stretching 
from New Guinea In the west to Fiji in 
the east. This Is a region dominated by 
high Islands, with considerable ongoing 
volcanic activity In the west. A broad range of reef types 
are found, though atolls are generally not as wide- 
spread as the extensive fringing and barrier systems 
associated with the high islands. Overall this region 
includes a vast area of reefs, making up about 14 per- 
cent of the global total. 

Biodiversity is high right across Melanesia, though 
there is a dine of diminishing diversity towards the 
east. This trend is hidden in many national statistics by 
an almost reversed trend of l<nowledge. The reefs of 
New Caledonia are the best studied, and a number 
of reefs In Fiji have also received some scientific 
attention. Even In these countries, however, there are 
vast areas which remain unvlslted and undescribed by 
scientists. The remaining countries are very poorly 
known Indeed. 

The first peoples to come to this region were 
Papuans, arriving in New Guinea over 40 000 years ago 




and reaching the nearby Bismarck Archipelago some 
30 000 years ago. Much more recently, about U 000 
years ago, another group, known as Austroneslans. 
arrived by sea from the Southeast Asian areas of what 
are now the Philippines and Indonesia. They settled In 
coastal communities from the Bismarck Archipelago to 
Fiji, and came to dominate most of the region. 

The majority of this region remains under 
traditional stewardship and most reefs are widely 
utilized by artlsanal fishers. Traditional reef man- 
agement at the level of individual villages, combined 
with relatively low population densities, has helped to 
ensure the continued sustainable utilization of most 
resources, particularly away from towns and centers of 
Western development. 

Attempts to establish marine protected areas 
along Western lines have only had very limited 
success, but the rights of villages to manage their own 
nearshore resources are now quite widely recognized 
in legal and constitutional systems. This recognition 
is important in maintaining traditional systems as 
changes to more Western lifestyles and governance 
take hold. 



Left; Papua New Guinea has a diversity of reef life whicli rivals the Southeast Asian center of diversity. Right: Ouvea, New 
Caledonia, a spectacular atoll formation which has tilted and uplifted along one edge ISTS038-7i-86, 19901. 



MAP 12 




c. 



,Y 



^ * 



^^yn 







k:C' 



= r 



. "^-^ST^i^-^ 



p^"^^ 



r^?,^^-- 



' -? - 




slarfolt IslandRi^, 

rough \ 






'• ■ / A -irough < 












SJ s *« 
v- S >) 



.>-nV^-.-^= 



^*%— »,> < > *% 






r 



. '-f ' 



•iv 



>, -^ 



• ' tn 




13 = 

J a: ^-^ 



to 

a; 
O 



''^'^: \ 



^ 






§ 




Melanesia 32s 



Papua New Guinea 



MAP 12a 




Papua New Guinea is one of the worlds major coral 
reef nations, with a vast area of reefs. The total area 
is probably considerably larger than the figure of 
13 840 square kilometers provided here, as many reefs 
remain unmapped in the present work. Lying on the 
eastern edge of the great center of coral reef biodiversity 
in Southeast Asia, there is every indication that this 
country enjoys remarkably high levels of biodiversity. It 
has suffered very little in terms of human impacts and 
there are great opportunities for continued sustainable 
management and conservation of its resources. 

Papua New Guinea consists of the eastern half of 
the island of New Guinea together with a large number of 
smaller islands. To the west the country shares a land border 
with Irian Jaya (West Papua). Indonesia. To the north of the 
mainland, the Pacific Ocean becomes enclosed as the 
Bismarck Sea, bounded by the Bismarck Archipelago to the 
north and New Britain to the east. East of New Britain and 
the mainland coast lies the Solomon Sea, further bounded 
by Bougainville Island in the east and the Louisiade 
Archipelago in the south. South of the mainland and the 
Louisiade Archipelago is the Coral Sea, with the Gulf of 
Papua and the Torres Strait to the west. The islands of the 
Torres Strait are Australian, but come to within just a few 



kilometers of the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. In 
the southwest there are extensive coastal lowlands around 
the Fly River. Further north the mainland is divided by the 
long range of mountains known as the Highlands, reaching 
over 3 000 meters in a number of places and more than 
4 500 meters at the highest point (Mount Wilhelm). There 
are further mountains along much of the north coast, divided 
at the mouth of the Sepik River. The offshore islands also 
show considerable relief The northern coastline and all the 
islands to the north lie in a region of important tectonic 
activity where the large Pacific, Australia and Caroline 
tectonic plates come together, separated by a complex of 
microplates underlying the Bismarck and Solomon Seas. 

Papua New Guinea has a vast area of coral reefs, 
including fringing, barrier and atoll formations, but there 
is little information for much of the country and it seems 
likely that there may still be large areas of unmapped and 
possibly unknown reefs. 

Mainland reefs 

The north coast, pailicularly in the west, is little known, 
however there are fringing reefs in many areas, including 
around the nearshore chain of the Schouten Islands. East of 



The Calvados Barrier Reef Is a spectacular structure, here encircling Sudest Island ISTS065-92-50. 199il. 



MAP 12a 




Melanesia 



327 











the Sepik and Ramu river mouths fringing reefs continue, 
often in long unbroken stretches up to the easternmost point 
of East Cape, while in places barrier reefs run further 
offshore, notably around Madang where there are about 50 
associated offshore islands. It has been estimated that, in 
all. over half of this coastline may have fringing reefs. There 
is a major break in the fringing reef around Lae in the Huon 
Gulf, where the Markham River delivers an estimated 10 
million tons of sediment per year. Along the southern coast, 
reef development is somewhat restricted in the area of the 
Fly River Delta and the smaller river deltas to the east, 
where there are extensive mangrove forests, turbidity is 
high and salinities are variable. Further east, coral reefs are 
widespread from Port Moresby eastwards. These are 
sometimes termed the Papuan Barrier Reef as they run 
some distance offshore, separated by a lagoon about 5 
kilometers wide. The total length of this reef is some 560 
kilometers, though this is broken by a number of channels. 

Northern islands and reefs 

To the north of the mainland, the westernmost islands of 
the Bismarck chain include a number of coralline islands 
surrounded by fringing reefs, and also a number of atolls, 
including the large Ninigo Atoll, Liot, Heina and Kaniet 
(Sae) Islands. The Hermit group is a near-atoll, with two 
high basaltic islands in the center of its lagoon. East of 
these lie the Admiralty Islands, dominated by the volcanic 
Manus Island, but including a number of smaller islands 
and atoll formations. The large volcanic islands of 
Lavongai (New Hanover) and New Ireland lie further east, 
with other smaller high ones to the north, including the 
St. Matthias group, Tabar and Lihir Islands. Reefs are 



widespread and include fringing systems as well as 
platform and atoll structures, though few details are 
available about these. Equally little is known about the 
reefs of Bougainville Island; a barrier reef is located about 
15 kilometers off the southwest coast and there are other 
barrier structures with a number of small associated islets 
off the east coast. Around New Britain the shelf is mostly 
very narrow and, although there are fringing reefs, they 
are not continuous. There are also various offshore patch 
and barrier structures, including around Kimbe Bay and 
the Gazelle Peninsula in the north. 



Southeast 

Perhaps the most extensive reef systems in the country 
are those of Milne Bay Province. The continental shelf 
is broad and scattered with numerous platform reefs, 
some with their associated islands (both volcanic and 
calcareous) between the mainland and the Trobriand Islands 
to the north. These islands are relatively flat limestone 
structures. The same shelf continues southwards to the 
volcanic D'Entrecasteaux Islands. East of theTrobriands are 
several islands and reefs, including Egum Atoll, the large 
Muyua (Woodlark) Island with associated fringe and near- 
barrier reef systems, and Budibudi Atoll in the far east. A 
long chain of reefs and islands extends southwest from the 
tip of Papua New Guinea and here there is a vast complex of 
reefs. The most significant is the Calvados Barrier Reef, 
extending as a long arm along the southern edge of the 
continental shelf, right around the tip of Sudest Island to 
follow the northern edge of the shelf, a total distance of 
some 640 kilometers. This system encircles many other 
lagoonal platform reefs and fringing reefs around islands. 



Left: Many of Papua New Guinea s fringing reefs remain unexplored. Wfiere the reef flat is narrow tfiey often do not 
feature on any maps. Right: Reef scene dominated by Porites lichen. 



328 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




The nearby high island of Rossel is also surrounded by a 
large barrier reef some 200 kilometers in circumference. 

In addition to the reefs described above, quite a 
number of other systems lie even more remote from the 
high islands. There are several atolls far off the continental 
shelf in the Pacific Ocean, including Lyra. Malum and 
Nuguria east from New Ireland and Takuu and Nukumanu 
east from Bougainville. The remote reefs of the northern 
Coral Sea fall under Australian jurisdiction, but a few are 
visited by dive vessels operating from Papua New Guinea. 



Biodiversity 

The reefs of Papua New Guinea are only just being 
explored in terms of their biodiversity, and studies in 
the late 1990s revealed extremely diverse communities, 
including many hitherto undescribed species. A recent 
survey of multiple sites in the Milne Bay area revealed 
some 869 reef and nearshore fishes, 637 molluscs and 
362 scleractinian corals. When combined with the limited 
records from previous surveys these totals become even 
larger, with 1 039 fishes and a predicted 420 coral species 
from this region alone. While there are affinities with 
Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea faunas, the reefs of 
Milne Bay and by implication all the reefs to the north are 
thus still closely linked to the Indonesian and Philippine 
centers of diversity and endemism. With such a variety 
of reefs it is, of course, not possible to describe anything 
like a typical reef community. Reefs include a complete 
range of geomorphological structures, while complex 
and diverse reef communities have also developed on 
new volcanic slopes where true reef structures have yet to 
form. Similarly coral cover, and the doininant species or 
groups, are highly varied, from low diversity, low coral 
cover locations, notably close to areas of high sediment 
loads, to diverse coral slopes with coral cover reaching 100 



percent in many areas. Coral bleaching has been observed 
on a few occasions, with the earliest report describing 
extensive bleaching at a location in Kimbe Bay in 1983. 
This led to close to 100 percent mortality, although there 
was a near complete recovery within 10 years. In 1996-97, 
bleaching was observed in a number of locations, and was 
reported to have led to mortalities approaching 80 percent 
around Motopure Island in Kimbe Bay. In Milne Bay over 
50 percent of corals were reported to have bleached in one 
study in June 1996, however recovery was good. Bleaching 
was also observed at a number of locations in 2000. 



Socio-economic considerations 

The most widespread use of coral reefs in Papua New 
Guinea is for subsistence fisheries. However, few settle- 
ments are wholly dependent on fish resources, as fishing is 
generally second to agriculture for food and income. The 
dominant commercial offshore fishery is tuna, largely 
conducted by foreign vessels under license. Inshore com- 
mercial fisheries include lobster, sea cucumber, trochus, 
green snail, pearl shell and some reef fish. The live fish 
trade has been operating in a few areas since 1991, and 
numbers of large reef fish are reported to be reduced in the 
northwest. There have also been reports of blast fishing, 
particularly around urban centers. 

Direct pollution from human settlements is limited to 
areas close to major towns. Unfortunately there are various 
other threats which may significantly impact the reefs of 
Papua New Guinea in the near future. The major commer- 
cial industries are logging and mining. Logging is occurring 
over large areas, although not on the same scale as in much 
of Southeast Asia, and there is a considerable threat that 
increased sedimentation will impact nearby nearshore reefs. 

Mining, notably for copper, gold and silver, is a major 
industry, and in the late 1 990s environmental controls were 
still weak. Deliberate or accidental discharge of mine 
tailings into rivers or directly offshore has caused prob- 
lems in a number of locations, both by smothering corals 
and from toxic impacts. The Panguana copper mine on 
Bougainville was reported to have smothered some 100 
square kilometers of sea floor with its tailings prior to its 
closure in 1989 as a result of civil war. The Ok Tedi mine 
in the southwest has released tens of millions of tons of 
tailings into the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers, causing massive 
damage to inland forests and possibly affecting offshore 
reefs. The Misima gold mine in Milne Bay was reported to 
have caused extensive destruction on nearshore reefs, and 
there are similar mines at many other localities on the 
mainland and offshore islands. 

Natural factors also affect the status of reefs in Papua 
New Guinea. The country lies within the cyclone belt, with 
considerable implications for the reefs. A few have also 
been severely damaged by volcanic and seismic activity. In 



Traditional fishing methods predominate over wide areas of Melanesia. 



Melanesia 



329 





Protected areas 


with coral reefs 










f 


name ^^^^| 


^^H[)esignation _^^^^^L 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikm^l 


Year 




Papua New Guinea 












Bagial 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


137.60 


1977 


Baniara Island 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


Unassigned 


0.15 


1975 


Crown Island 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


59.69 


1977 


Horseshoe Reef 


Marine Park 


MP 


Unassigned 


3.96 


1981 


Kamiali 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


474.13 


1996 


Kimbe Bay 


Fisheries Management Area 


FMA 


VI 


0.02 


1999 


Long Island 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


419.22 


1977 


Maza 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


1 842.30 


1978 


Nanuk Island 


Provincial Park 


PR 


IV 


0.12 


1973 


Ndrolowa 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


58.50 


1985 


Pirung 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


442.40 


1989 


Sawataetae 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


7.00 


1977 


Simbine Coast 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


0.72 


2000 


Sinub Island 


Wildlife Management Area 


WMA 


VI 


0.12 


2000 


Talele Islands 


Provincial Park 


PP 


IV 


0,40 


1973 















1998 one of the largest Isimamis (tidal waves) on record hit 
a 25 kilometer section of coastline in the north of the 
country, with devastating effects on coastal villages. The 
impact on fringing reefs in the area is unknown. 

While tourism as a whole is a relatively small-scale 
activity, dive tourism is growing fairly rapidly because 
of the spectacular and unspoiled nature of so many of the 
reefs. There are now a number of operators, particularly 
associated with "live-aboard" vessels. 

A number of protected areas covering coral reefs 
have been declared, but the majority of these are simply 
marine extensions of terrestrial sites, with little or no real 
provisions for marine protection. Even where they exist, 
there is little or no local knowledge or application of 
regulations. In many ways, because of traditional uses and 
ownership in almost all areas, the application of Western- 
style national parks and reserves may not be entirely 
appropriate in this country. Recognizing this, a number of 
community-run wildlife management areas have been 
developed. In 2000, the most effective of these included 
a number of sites which were still awaiting full legal 
establishment, such as Sinub Island in Madang Lagoon, 
Simbine Coast (125 kilometers northwest of Madang) 
and Kimbe Bay. Elsewhere, traditional fisheries combined 
with relatively low coastal populations spare wide areas of 
reefs from immediate threat. 



Coral reef research has been somewhat limited in this 
country. Conservation International has been undertaking 
a number of research expeditions to the reefs in the Milne 
Bay region, while there are also research facilities on 
Motupore Island near Port Moresby and in Kimbe Bay. 



Papua New 


Guinea 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




4 927 


GDP (million U5$l 




4 730 


Land area (km^l 




467 498 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




2 366 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/year) 


14 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk 1%) 




46 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




13 840 


Coral diversity 




378/517 


Mangrove area (km^) 




5 399 


No. of mangrove species 




44 


No. of seagrass species 




7 



330 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Solomon Islands 



MAP 12b 




The Solomon Islands consist of over 900 islands 
widely distributed in the Western Pacific. The bulk 
of the land area comprises seven large volcanic 
islands which form a double chain running from northwest 
to southeast and converging on the island of Makira (San 
Cristobal). The Santa Cruz Islands are a second group of 
three larger volcanic islands lying to the east; Ndeno, 
Utupua and Vanikolo together with smaller islands, 
including the Reef Islands and the Duff Islands. In 
addition to these there are several more remote islands and 
reefs. Ontong Java is a large atoll of some 1 500 square 
kilometers lying over 250 kilometers north of Santa 
Isabel, while nearby there is a smaller atoll, Roncador 
Reef, which has no associated islands. About 200 
kilometers northeast of Malaita is Sikaiana Atoll (Stewart 
Islands), with a number of small islands around a near- 
atoll (there is a 45 meter high remnant of the volcano). To 
the south of the main island chain are two raised atolls, 
Bellona and Rennell, with fringing reefs around their 
perimeter. South of these are three large atoll structures 
with no associated islands - the Indispensable Reefs. The 
far eastern borders of this island nation are determined by 
the three small islands of Anuta, Fatutaka and Tikopia. 
The Solomon Islands lie on the western margin of the 



Pacific plate and all are of volcanic origin. There is still 
volcanic activity in a number of locations, notably on 
Tinakula in the Santa Cruz Islands and on the submarine 
volcano of Kavachi, south of New Georgia. The latter is 
one of the most active volcanoes in the region and has 
created several new islands in the last century, most 
recently in May 2000. 

Coral reefs are widespread throughout the country. 
A number of atolls have already been mentioned, and 
fringing reefs are numerous around most of the islands. 
Even where they are not marked on maps, such as around 
Guadalcanal, there are narrow, steeply shelving fringing 
structures. Barrier reefs are less developed, although there 
are barrier complexes with associated islands around New 
Georgia and northeast Choiseul and around Utupua. A 
complex system occurs around the Reef Islands, including 
the 25 kilometer Great Reef extending westwards from the 
main island group. Other shallow platform reefs are found 
north of the Reef Islands. 

Very little is currently known about biodiversity on 
the reefs of the Solomon Islands, however given their 
location and the relatively low levels of human impact in 
many areas, they are likely to include highly diverse and 
important reef communities. A recent survey of the fish 



Left: A sunset wrasse Thalassoma lutescens takes shelter under a plate Acropora. Right: A feather star with a 
massive coral. 



MAP 12b 




332 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




communities in tlie Santa Cruz Islands identified 725 
species (including non-reef species). Some of the most 
detailed data describing the reefs of the region were 
gathered during a 1965 Royal Society expedition which 
visited a large number of the western islands. Overall this 
expedition concluded that coral reef growth was not well 
developed, and listed only 87 species of scleractinian 
coral. But it would appear that these observations were 
misplaced: little use was made of scuba diving, and it 
has been further suggested that the reefs may have been 
impacted by some form of mass mortality just prior to 
the expedition. Coral bleaching was reported from a wide 
range of localities in 2000, at the same time as the major 
bleaching event recorded in Fiji. These include obser- 
vations from the high islands in the west, but also from 
Ontong Java Atoll. There is no information about the 
degree of associated mortality. 

The coral reefs of the Solomon Islands include 
wide areas still largely unimpacted by human activities, 
although there are also areas where such pressures are 
large and growing. The islands have one of the fastest 
population growth rates in the world, and 86 percent of 
the people are rural. Dependence on coral reefs for protein 
remains high and subsistence fishing is widespread. In 
the more populous areas this is leading to overfishing 
and in certain parts, such as the Lau Lagoon off north 
Malaita. many of the preferred edible species have been 
lost. Fishing methods can also be destructive, whether 
trampling and damaging the reefs with nets, or poison 
fishing including traditional methods that use coastal 
plant species to provide the poison. This poison is 
unselective, killing a number of non-targeted species and 
reportedly damaging corals. 

Traditional management systems are still of consid- 
erable importance in the Solomon Islands, as customary 



marine tenure is widely held and all reefs are "owned" 
by particular groups who have fishing rights. Christian 
leaders, traditional kastom men, or even the villagers 
themselves regularly place taboos on particular reefs, 
usually for a restricted period of time. More complete 
protection is provided in some areas by other beliefs, such 
as around Onogou (Ramos) Island, which is believed to 
house the spirits of the dead and can only be visited after 
following strict protocols. 

Commercial fishing has probably had more far- 
reaching effects across the islands, notably for selected 
target species. In 1999 the export of trochus and related 
snails brought in over US$1 million, with sea cucumbers, 
shark fins, live fish and spiny lobster also bringing in 
substantial amounts. Both trochus and sea cucumbers 
are already overfished and their numbers are declining 
rapidly in many areas. A significant giant clam fishery 
peaked in 1983, but overharvesting has depleted these 
stocks in all areas, exacerbated by illegal poaching by 
foreign vessels. (A Taiwanese vessel was captured on 
the Indispensable Reefs in 1986 with 10 tons of frozen 
adductor muscles on board, representing many tens of 
thousands of individual clams.) There is some concern 
that as these different fisheries collapse exploitation of 
other stocks, such as those used in the live fish trade, 
will increase. 

Efforts to establish giant clam mariculture have been 
ongoing for about ten years. While this has been inter- 
rupted by violence on Guadalcanal, a smaller operation 
continues near Ghizo. Pearl exports have traditionally 
been an important industry in the Solomons, and with 
the export of wild-caught stocks prohibited there are 
now ongoing efforts to establish a farm near Ghizo. The 
aquarium trade has been increasing relatively rapidly, 
much of it around Nggela in the Florida Islands, where 



East Rennell, a World Heritage Site, is an uplifted atoll, with the brackish Lake Tegano filling the former lagoon ISTS068- 
244-94, 1994]. 



Melanesia 



Protected areas 


wi 


th coral reefs 










I Site name ^^^^ 




Designation 


Abbreviation 


lUCN cat. 


Size Ikmil 


Year 


Solomon Islands 


Arnavon 




Marine Conservation Area 


MarCA 


VI 


82.70 


na 


East Rennell 




World Heritage Site 






370.00 


1998 





there have been reports of extensive damage. Coral pieces 
are broken off for collection, damaging methods such 
as cyanide are used to capture reef fish, and reefs are 
trampled during capture, resulting in coral breakage. 

One unusual but highly significant threat to reefs in the 
Solomon Islands comes from the use of lime in the habit 
of chewing betel nuts. The latter are taken from the fruits 
of a palm and are chewed with a pepper leaf and lime in an 
addictive habit. The lime is prepared by burning branching 
corals (typically Acropora). Major users may consume 20 
kilos of lime per year (derived from over 30 kilos of live 
coral), and in some areas, such as the lagoon reefs of 
Malaita, these corals are highly depleted. One estimate sug- 
gested that about 6 million kilos of lime are used per year, 
derived from 10 million kilos of live coral, making this one 
of the largest single threats to reefs in the country. There are 
some ongoing efforts to establish coral gardens which might 
be harvested sustainably, and some communities report that 
they utilize coral patches on a rotation system. 

Although many of the Solomon Islands remain 
forested, logging is ongoing in many areas and there are 
few efforts to control sediment runoff Although there 
have been no studies it seems highly likely that coral reefs 
will be impacted in some areas. Particular concern has 
been expressed about logging activities on the island of 
Vangunu and the potential impact on the Marovo Lagoon. 
Previously selectively logged areas on this island are now 
being clear-felled and converted to oil-palm plantations, 
and there is concern that the conversion process may 
produce even higher levels of sedimentation, and that sub- 
sequent fertilizer use could create ongoing problems. 

There is no sewage treatment in any of the urban 
centers in the Solomon Islands. As populations grow this 
will increasingly threaten the health of both humans and 
reefs. Tourism has never been a major industry, although 
there are various hotels and "live-aboards" which cater for 
divers. The establishment of legally gazetted protected 
areas in the Solomon Islands is complicated by the cus- 
tomary tenure of all reefs. A number of island sanctuaries 
have recently been repealed. As negotiations on the owner- 
ship of at least one of these have been ongoing, there is 
evidence that a number of villages have been using the 



confusion to rapidly deplete the surrounding reef resources. 
The most successful marine protected area is the Arnavon 
marine conservation area. First established in 1975 there 
have been a number of disputes and problems, but in 1992 
the site was revived and a community-based management 
committee established. The eastern third of Rennell Island 
was declared a World Heritage Site in 1998, with bound- 
aries extending seawards for 3 nautical miles. 

The current civil unrest in the Solomon Islands is 
largely confined to the island of Guadalcanal, but general 
instability is causing considerable disruption, not only 
to the small tourism industry, but also to development 
activities, including mariculture. In particular the closure of 
the Coastal Aquaculture Centre near Honiara in late 1999 
has set back aquaculture research considerably, although 
some of its activities have been transferred to a second 
center near Ghizo. while other work has relocated to New 
Caledonia. A new Institute of Marine Resources run by the 
University of the South Pacific has also been abandoned. 



Solomon 1 


stands 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




/i66 


GDP (million US$1 




22i 


Land area (km^) 




27 740 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 630 


Per capita fish consumption 


[kg/yearl 


33 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




46 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




5 750 


Coral diversity 




101 /398 


Mangrove area [km^l 




642 


No. of mangrove species 




22 


No. of seagrass species 




3 



334 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



New Caledonia 



MAP 12C 




The Archipelago of New Caledonia is dominated 
by the large land mass of Grande Terre, the third 
largest island in the Pacific (after New Guinea and 
New Zealand). It is of continental origin, having diverged 
from Australia some 65 million years ago. and has a 
mountainous interior rising to more than 1 600 meters. 
The shallow shelf on which the island sits extends a con- 
siderable distance to the northwest, and includes the 
continental lies Belep and a number of smaller islands and 
coral cays further north. To the southeast the shelf con- 
tinues down to the lie des Pins. The shallow platform on 
which these islands lie is rimmed by the worlds second 
largest barrier reef, over 1 300 kilometers in length. There 
are quite regular passes in the reef, largely associated with 
river mouths on the mainland. In a few locations to the 
north, notably along the Grand Recif de Koumac and the 
Recif des Frangais, a deep lagoon has developed within 
the single structure of the outer barrier reef flat, forming a 
rare double barrier structure. Between the barrier reef and 
the mainland there are many platform structures, while 
fringing reefs are also widespread in many areas. To the 
northwest the barrier reef continues beyond the lies Belep 
up to a charmel, the Grand Passage. Beyond this there is 
a group of reefs known as the D'Entrecasteaux Reefs, 



including Huon Atoll, Surprise Atoll and a number of 
smaller atoll and barrier-like structures. 

Due east of Grande Terre is the low-lying chain of 
the Loyalty Islands. Mare in the south has some volcanic 
rocks, while the others are composed primarily of uplifted 
limestone. Fringing reefs encircle most of Mare and Lifou. 
Ouvea to the north is a partially uplifted and tilted atoll 
with fringing reefs along its eastern (uplifted) coastline, 
but with a wide reef-fringed lagoon to the west. Moving 
northwest is the small atoll of Beautemps-Beaupre and 
then a small group of reefs known as the Astrolabe Reefs. 
Lying in considerable isolation to the northwest of the 
Loyalty Islands and to the east of the D'Entrecasteaux 
Reefs is another significant reef structure, the Petrie Reef 
Far to the east of the Loyalty Islands are the two small 
islands of Matthew and Hunter. Geographically these 
are a part of the Vanuatu chain, but they are claimed by 
both countries. 

Over 550 kilometers west of Grande Terre are two very 
large shallow reef areas. The Chesterfield Islands are coral 
cays along the penmeter of a large atoll. A shallow reef 
with a very steep outer slope marks its northern and 
western margins, while to the southeast there is no clear 
atoll margin, but a gentle slope to considerable depths. To 



A reef slope showing high coral cover, with a map puffer Arothron mappa. 



MAP12C 




336 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




the south, Bellona Atoll again has a number of shallow reefs 
and a few coral islands, notably along its western perimeter. 

Between the Chesterfield Plateau and Grande Terre is 
the wide Landsdowne Bank, which is mostly sandy and 
70-80 meters in depth, but includes the small Nereus Reef 
in the north. To the southeast of this area the Fairway 
Reef also comes close to the surface and dries at low tide. 
A number of maps show a large island to the northwest of 
Nereus Reef which does not actually exist: lie de Sable. 
However, there may be shallow banks and submerged reefs 
in this region, which remains poorly charted. 

The climate is somewhat seasonal, warm from 
November to April when it is dominated by frontal sys- 
tems and when cyclones may occur, followed by a cooler 
season from June to September when southeast trade 
winds predominate. 

The location of New Caledonia relatively close to the 
global center of coral reef diversity, combined with the 
large area and variety of reefs, ensures very high diversity. 
Unlike many other reefs in the region these have been the 
subject of considerable study, although many areas in this 



large archipelago nonetheless remain poorly known and 
undescribed. Thus far about 1 950 fish species have been 
recorded, about 5 500 molluscs, 5 000 crustaceans, 600 
sponges and 300 corals. Around 5 percent of species are 
thought to be endemic. 

Grande Terre contains about 40 percent of the world's 
known nickel deposits. Held in the sub-surface rocks of 
the high mountain areas it is extracted using open-cut 
techniques involving the removal of about a 30 meter 
depth of surface soil and rock. Over 300 mines have been 
dug in the past century, removing 280 million tons of 
surface rock for the extraction of a further 110 million 
tons of ore. Sedimentation from these mines has been 
considerable in many streams and estuaries, and has 
greatly increased turbidity in some nearshore waters. In 
the Ouenghi Basin north of Noumea the delta area has 
extended by 300-400 meters along a 3 kilometer stretch of 
coastline as a result of this sedimentation over the last 
30 years. Much of the sediment flows out onto the east 
coast in the Thio and Dothio Rivers. Controls reducing 
sedimentation from new mines have been in place since 



The world's second largest barrier reef encircles Grande Terre I5TS033-73-61, 19891. 



Melanesia 



337 



Protected 


areas 


with coral reefs 










H Site name 


^^^ 


Designation _^^^H 


t Abbreviation 


lUCN cat 


— Sjzelkmji 


jiM 


New Caledonia 


Aguille de Prony 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Bale de Bourail 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Humboldt 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Les Bancs de Sech 


e-Croissant 


Special Fauna Reserve 


SpFR 


IV 


na 


na 


TlePam 




Special Fauna Reserve 


SpFR 


IV 


4.60 


1966 


Tlot Amedee et Rec 


f Abore 


Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tlot Bailly 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


llot Canard 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Ilot Casy 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tlot Goeland 




Special Fauna Reserve 


SpFR 


VI 


na 


na 


Tlot Laregnere 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tlot MaTtre 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


^.5i 


1981 


Tlot Signal 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tlot Tenia 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tlot Vert 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Poe 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Pointe Kuendu 




Special Reserve 


SpR 


IV 


na 


na 


Tournante de Marine Faune 


Special Marine Reserve 


SpMR 


IV 


355.70 


1981 


Yves Merlet 




Integral Reserve 


IR 


la 


167.00 


1970 





the 1970s, however the older abandoned mines will con- 
tinue to release sediments for many decades. The offshore 
location of the majority of reefs provides some protection 
from such impacts, but nearshore areas may suffer con- 
siderably owing to the protective nature of the lagoon 
which holds sediments close to shore. 

Aside from sedimentation, most of the human 
pressures on the coral reefs are centered around the main 
town of Noumea where there are localized problems of 
domestic pollution and some overfishing. Here and else- 
where around the southeast there have been significant 
coastal modifications associated with urbanization and 
tourism developments. The tourism industry is partic- 
ularly important to Noumea and there are many hotels, 
notably in the southeast but also along the west coast and 
in the Loyalty Islands. 

There is a good network of marine protected areas 
around the southeast of the region, and there are plans 
to develop a similar network in the north. In addition 
to these, customary reserves and traditional fishing areas 
are recognized. 



New Caledonia 




General Data 






Population Ithcusandsl 




202 


GDP (million US$1 




2 987 


Land area Ikm^l 




19 UO 


Marine area (thousand km^l 




1 7^0 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


25 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%l 




13 


Recorded coral diseases 




1 


Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^) 




5 980 


Coral diversity 




151 /359 


Mangrove area (km^j 




456 


No. of mangrove species 




16 


No. of seagrass species 




8 



338 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



Vanuatu 



MAPS I2d and e 




ii^stisiKm 



Vanuatu represents the main bulk of an island chain 
which continues into the Santa Cruz Islands of 
the eastern Solomon Islands. Lying on the western 
margins of the Pacific plate, the islands are all of vol- 
canic origin, and there is ongoing volcanic activity in a 
number of locations, including the Banks Islands in the 
northeast, Lopevi and Ambryn in the central islands, and 
Tanna in the south. Submarine volcanoes are also active, 
notably off Epi and Erromango. About 100 kilometers 
south of Anatom the Gemini Seamounts are another area 
of volcanic activity - explosions were observed from the 
eastern seamount in 1996. However the western Gemini 
Seamount, which rises to about 30 meters below the 
surface, was reported to have considerable marine life. 
The Matthew and Hunter Islands, in the far south of 
the island chain, are disputed between Vanuatu and New 
Caledonia. All of the islands are volcanic rock or uplifted 
carbonate structures, or some combination of these. The 
northern islands form a double chain. Current volcanic 
activity is generally restricted to the eastern islands and 
reef development is greatest in the western ones. Fringing 
reefs predominate, though Cook Reef, north of Efate, 
is a small atoll-like structure with no associated islands. 
The Reef Islands north of Vanua Lava are also part of a 



carbonate structure which has undergone a slight uplift. 
The islands lie in an area particularly prone to tropical 
cyclones, which cause damage to at least part of the 
archipelago annually. Cyclone Uma in 1987 was one of 
the most devastating, causing considerable harm to Efate 
and its reefs. Southeast trade winds predominate between 
May and October 

Fringing reefs encircle most of the islands from Efate 
southwards. In the central islands fringing reefs are 
generally not continuous and reef flats can be quite 
narrow. Typically reefs are best developed on eastern and 
northern coasts. The eastern coasts of Santo (Espiritu 
Santo) and Malakula both have wide fringing reefs and 
a number of coral islands on their coastlines. One inter- 
esting phenomenon in relatively recent times has been 
the observation of significant tectonic uplifts, particularly 
along the western coastlines of Malakula and Santo. Reefs 
on the northwest coasts of both islands were uplifted by 
up to 6 meters in 1965. 

Detailed surveys of biodiversity have not been 
undertaken in most areas, although some 35 locations 
were visited by divers from the Australian Institute of 
Marine Sciences in 1988. Typically the reef crests and 
shallow reef areas are dominated by coralline algae and 



Acropora is the most diverse coral genus, with numerous forms including branching and plate corals. 



la-is' 



Is. Tones 1 



14°00' 



14"45' 



IS'Sff 




, 166°45' 



167°30' 



168°15' 







I. Ur^arapara ,-— 



Is. Rowa(ReefIs.)/ 



I. Vot Tandi 









■Tf- 



i. 
Lilas 



V 



I. Santa Maria 



*t-— *• «W-^,. 



WOT 

7^ 

2 4 6 km 



^3 I 1 



\^ I. Vanua Lava 



I. Mota Lava 
Ol-Mota 




Is. Banks 

L Santa Maria 

° LM^g 



,-»., 



\ T 



MAP 12d 



13MS 



J" 



) 



Is. Torres 






lT«giia 



a 



Grande Passe 



V 



2 4 6 km 



A * 






Passe 
Dumanoir 

•iLTogaJ 



L MM Lava 



CapNaboI 



r" 



PACIFIC OCEAN 



N 



CapQueiltis 
\ C^^l Lathi 
^ . p L Thion 

'BigBayj ^^-.LUtho 

-J_ L Lataro 
>p LLataroa 

L Espiritu Santo "^^LNtovia 



VANUATU 



V^. 



/ 






LMa6vo 



,, / '^ no. Tutuba 

r y^^.—Ai^^)'^ Bucaro Aom RecR 

A ~^ ■■ Aore RecR 
^l Malo ^aomebaravu-Malo R 

Detroit de Bougainville 



I i.1,.1 - I- Aoba „ — „ 

LAcse r Passage Patteson 

iV President Coolidge and^ y r~) 

Million Dollar Point MR .^Z::.::^..:.:^. j.U i 



CapMata'av6e 



LAiald 

LUrflapa 



M'Off 



14*45' 



IS'Sff 




MAP I2e 



\ LEpi 




,.. I T6&la 
•'Tk......L Laflta 

L Tongoa 
L Ewos^ 

. Falia , _ ^ ■ 

-, L Tongariki 

L Buninga 



169°15' 



170°00' 



17°15' 



I. Etoai 

L Makura (Makir) 



LMalaso-^ LEtarik 




LEfiti 
(Vati) 



18°00' 



' ; ^. LNguna 
^^^vi"^* O' 



Lfeftoka _/ 

r 

___*_ 

Pt " 






L Kakula ...7«;i« 



X 



17°15' 



I. Efati 
(Vat^) 










PangoPt 



C/^'U^^ ,v 



12 km NarpowPt^^-** 



-.-^^ 



J 



WW 



18°45' 




PACIFIC OCEAN 



VANUATU 



19°30' 



uroff i7r2(r i7i"4ff Mz-m ;i7r20' 



I. Matthew 



22'40' 20 40 60 km 



10 20 30 40 50 km 



I. Hunter 




I. Futuna 



L Anatom ^y^.^,^/ j 



20"15' 



169°15' 



170°00' 



Melanesia 



341 



Protected areas with coral reefs 

Site name Designation 

Vanuatu 



President Coolidge 
and Million Dollar Point 



Abbreviation 



Marine Reserve 



lUCN 



cat. Size (km^i Year 



Aore 




Recreation Reserve 


RecR 


Unassigned 


0.37 


1984 


Bucaro Aore 




Recreation Reserve 


RecR 


Unassigned 


0.20 


1984 


Naomebaravu - 


- Malo 


Reserve 


R 


Unassigned 


0.11 


1984 



MR 



Unassigned 



robust plate and branching corals, particularly in exposed 
locations, with a predominance of massive and branching 
corals below a depth of 3-5 meters. Massive coral also 
becomes predominant in embayments, with soft corals in 
more sheltered locations. In all some 469 fish species and 
295 scleractinian corals were observed during this survey, 
although the complete list, particularly for the fish, is 
likely to be far longer. Periodic crown-of-thorns starfish 
outbreaks have been reported, and these combined with 
the impacts of cyclones and tectonic activity mean that 
live coral cover and physical state are quite variable 
across the country. 

Vanuatu has a rapidly growing population. While a 
large number live in the two main towns, over 70 percent 
live on their traditional lands and remain heavily reliant 
on subsistence from the land and ocean. Catch methods 
include gill netting, capture by hand and spear gun and, 
in more remote areas, traditional techniques including 
bow and arrow, spears, traps and traditional poisons. 
Subsistence capture is largely of fish, but also includes 
substantial amounts of shellfish (34 percent) and lobster 
(20 percent). Cash income is also provided at the local 
level through collection of sea cucumbers, trochus. green 
snails, crustaceans and aquarium fish. 

Up to the present time the larger islands of Vanuatu 
have remained heavily forested. However, there are now 
increased logging activities in a number of areas which 
may be impacting coral reefs through sediment runoff 
Close to the main urban centers there are considerable 
concerns about pollution arising from sewage inputs, 
sediments and storm-water runoff, notably around Port 
Vila and the airport. Away from these areas concern has 
been expressed about the overharvesting of some non- 
motile reef species. 

Although relatively restricted in terms of where it 
operates, tourism is an increasingly important sector of 
the economy, and diving is a highly popular activity 
among visitors. Formal protection of reef resources is 



not widespread, though a number of reserves have been 
established off Santo. For the most part however these 
are not respected, or even known about, by local people. 
The President Coolidge Reserve (a US shipwreck sunk in 
1942) is a popular dive location for visitors. Customary 
tenure of reef resources is legally recognized in the 
constitution. At the level of villages and local commun- 
ities a number of more effective management measures 
have been established, including harvesting restrictions 
on particular stocks, and sometimes more comprehen- 
sive protection of the marine environment. A proposed 
Environmental and Resource Management Bill currently 
under consideration might provide an opportunity to put 
such areas under some form of legal protection as com- 
munity conservancy areas. 



Vanuatu 




General Data 






Population (thousands) 




190 


GDP (million US$1 




191 


Land area (km^l 




12 535 


Marine area [thousand km^l 




680 


Per capita fish consumption 


(kg/yearl 


26 


Status and Threats 






Reefs at risk (%| 




70 


Recorded coral diseases 







Biodiversity 






Reef area (km^l 




L. 110 


Coral diversity 




29b 1 219 


Mangrove area (km^l 




16 


No. of mangrove species 




15 


No. of seagrass species 




1 



342 WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 



r~ ■ ■ ■ 

Fiji 



MAP I2f 




Fiji is a vast archipelago centered on two relatively 
shallow geological features, the Fiji Platform and 
the Lau Ridge. Geologically, the area lies on the 
Indo-Pacific plate close to the boundary with the Pacific 
plate, in an area of relatively complex geology and 
fracturing. The two largest islands of Viti Levu and Vanua 
Levu, together with quite a number of smaller ones, lie 
on the relatively shallow Fiji Platform. Fringing reefs 
surround most of Viti Levu, with the largest continuous 
fringing reef running for 100 kilometers along the Coral 
Coast on its southern shore. Offshore from eastern Viti 
Levu the Suva Barrier Reef follows the shelf edge up 
to the island of Ovalau. The northern coast of Viti Levu 
is dominated by a very complex array of platform reef 
structures and intervening channels. Running northeast at 
some distance west of Viti Levu is a string of high islands 
known as the Yasawa group, again with an associated 
complex of fringing and patch reefs. These islands lie 
close to the edge of the Fiji Platform, and part of this 
shelf-edge is capped by Ethel Reef, a 30 kilometer barrier 
reef Immediately south of Viti Levu is the island of 
Beqa, enclosed to the south and west by the Beqa Barrier 
Reef. Further south, the large island of Kadavu is 
separated from the Fiji Platform by the Kadavu Passage. 



40 km 



This island has fringing reefs along much of its coastline, 
but is further dominated by a 95 kilometer long barrier 
reef rurming along its southern and eastern coasts and 
extending into the Great Astrolabe and North Astrolabe 
Reefs. 

The line of the Yasawa group in the west is continued 
eastwards towards Vanua Levu by Fiji's longest barrier 
reef structure, the Great Sea Reef which runs along 
the shelf edge in a near continuous chain for over 200 
kilometers, gradually converging towards the coastline of 
Vanua Levu at its northeastern tip. The Vatu Ira Channel 
between the two high islands is a tongue of deeper water, 
also fringed by elongated barrier reef structures including 
the Vanua Levu Barrier Reef along the eastern edge of this 
channel and up to the southern shore of Vanua Levu. 
Much of the southern shores of Vanua Levu are lined by 
fringing reefs, while the northern edge is marked by a 
similar complex of platform reefs to that along Viti Levu. 
Out to the east lies a complex of islands and reefs 
collectively termed the Ringgold Islands. These include 
several atolls, and also Budd Reef which is a near- 
atoll, with a group of high islets located in its lagoon. 
A group of reefs on the outer edge of the Ringgold Islands 
make up the Nukusemanu and Heemskercq Reefs, parts 



This broad view shows northern Viti Levu and western Vanua Levu, inctuding the complex platform reef structures 
along the northern shores of both islands ISTS027-32-34, 19881. 



MAP 12f 












Reef 
Ra) 

9 km 


un 

1 


o 

Conway 
(Ceva-i 

3 6 


-f S 





344 



WORLD ATLAS OF CORAL REEFS 




of which are submerged but may be considered a near- 
atoll or barrier-type structure. 

The Lau Islands make up the eastern edge of the Fiji 
group and lie at the top of the Lau Ridge, separated from 
the Fiji Platform by the Nanuku Channel. Most of the 
northern islands are high and of volcanic origin, but 
further south carbonate islands predominate. There are a 
number of atolls and near-atolls throughout the chain. The 
Exploring Isles make up one of the largest structures in 
this group, including the high island of Vanua Balavu, as 
well as a long barrier reef running out to the east and 
enclosing a number of smaller islands. Towards the center 
of the group the Bukatatanoa Reefs are another massive 
barrier reef complex. Lying considerably to the south of 
the main group of Lau Islands are the smaller islands of 
Vatoa (a high limestone island with a barrier reef) and the 
atoll of Vuata Vatoa. Further south again is a complex of 
four small reef systems including Oni-i-Lau, a small 
group of islands enclosed by a barrier reef 

The Koro Sea is a relatively enclosed sea between 
the Lau Islands and Viti Levu. There are a few islands 
scattered in this area. The Lomaiviti group east of Viti 
Levu is mostly volcanic and has well developed fringing 
and barrier structures. Further south, the Moala group is 
made up of three high volcanic islands with predom- 
inantly fringing reefs around them. 

Far from the main islands of Fiji are three other reef 
areas. In the far northwest, the island of Rotuma is 
volcanic and has wide fringing reefs. A number of smaller 
islands nearby also have fringing reef structures. In the far 



southwest Conway Reef or Ceva-i-Ra is a small coral cay 
of some 200 by 50 meters on a platform reef Finally, in 
the southeast, Fiji claims the Minerva Reefs, although 
these are also claimed by Tonga. 

Some of the reefs of the country have been exten- 
sively studied in terms of their ecology and biodiversity, 
but. given the overall extent of Fijian reefs, a vast pro- 
portion remain poorly known. Species numbers are high, 
as might be expected from the location of these reefs in 
relation to the Indo-Pacific center of diversity as well as 
from the sheer variety of reef types. Most of the studies 
have been undertaken close to the University of the South 
Pacific in Suva or on the Great Astrolabe Reef where there 
is an associated field study station. Some 298 species 
of scleractinian coral have been recorded, alongside over 
475 species of mollusc (including 253 nudibranchs and 
102 bivalves) and some 60 species of ascideans. A total of 
1 198 species of fish have been recorded in Fiji's waters, 
the majority of them reef-associated. The algal flora of 
these reefs is also well known, and some 422 species have 
been documented. Early in 2000, a major warming event 
in the surface waters around Fiji and neighboring countries 
led to between 50 and 100 percent of corals becoming 
bleached over wide areas, and extending to depths of 
30 meters. Many corals subsequently died, particularly in 
southern parts of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. 

The rural people of Fiji depend on coral reefs for the 
vast bulk of their protein, and subsistence catches from 
reefs are estimated at approximately 1 7 000 tons per year. 
Although fishing with hand lines is most common, a vast 



Left: Damselfish such as these humbugs Dascyllus aruanus often take shelter among branching corals. Right: Part of 
the Beqa Barrier Reef. 



Melanesia 



345 



range of techniques are used including traps, fences, 
spears, gill nets, hand nets and poisonous plants (notably 
derris root). Some fishers now also utilize scuba and 
hookah gear. Gleaning at low tide is also important for 
shellfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and octopus. 
Customary marine tenure at the level of individual vil- 
lages has controlled utilization of reefs in many areas, with 
■ villages having rights of access to fishing areas ox qoliqolis. 
Although such systems are still in place on many islands, 
there are increasing problems of overexploitation. 

Nearshore commercial fisheries probably contribute a 
further 6 000 tons to the annual fish catch. In many areas 
target stocks have now declined considerably and this 
is largely linked to overfishing, although pollution, par- 
ticularly near urban centers, may play a role. Stocks of 
emperors, mullets and trevally have declined, while the 
bump-h