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Old 22-04-2009, 13:15   #1
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BVI Coral - Where'd it Go ?

I recently came back from a BVI charter (March 2009) and, again, snorkelling was the major activity. I was astounded with the amount of coral that seemed to be gone since my last visit just two years before (Jan 2007). Maybe 60% gone overall!? since my last visit. In it's place seemed a wasteland of brown coral debris / waste. Also missing were a lot of fish that were otherwise plentiful in and around the reefs.

I hit all the same places: The southern end of Virgin Gourda around the Baths, the Indians, Monkey Point, etc. It was most noticible around the Baths, less noticable around the Indians.

Has anyone noticed / experienced the same? Can any one say with authority what has caused it (Ike / Katrina, etc?)
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Old 22-04-2009, 13:43   #2
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I am just going to go way out on a limb and say humans caused it.
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Old 22-04-2009, 13:51   #3
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Well, I think it's the Invasion of the Lion Fish, and I have proof. It can't be humans

Diving Deeper with Jay Cashmere

Scientists in the Florida Keys discovered the first nonnative lionfish in the region that is home to the country's only living coral barrier reef. The veracious eater has been rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean's warm waters. Officials believe the fish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans, likely escaped from a Florida fish tank during a 1992 hurricane. It has since been spotted as far north as Rhode Island, but hadn't been seen in the Keys. A recreational diver reported seeing the fish off Key Largo. Scientists removed it Wednesday. They fear an invasion could devastate area reefs, as it has no known predators in the area. Officials are relying on divers to report sightings so they can immediately remove the fish.


See proof

Of course all the extra waste, phosphates and the fact that every blog I have read talks about locals basically pouring (spillage really) diesel into the water doesn't help.

Could be sunscreen though.....

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...uff-23823.html
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Old 22-04-2009, 13:53   #4
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Fish tank? HUMANS!
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Old 22-04-2009, 13:58   #5
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Has a Hurricane damaged the area since you were there?
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:04   #6
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i bet it was sun screen lotion.... he he he
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:38   #7
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Regardless of my somewhat glib post above, this is something that really does trouble me, since I have never seen beautiful healthy reefs, I hope there are still a few around when I get out there.
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:43   #8
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There's been serious coral bleaching in the caribbean since 2005. Actually, it's a worldwide problem, but since 2005 it's been measured in the caribbean. Here's a story about it:
CORALations - Coral Bleaching 2005

And this story has a map that shows the worldwide problem.
http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/285

I believe the bleaching has been spreading eastward from the keys through the caribbean islands. In 2005 it was pretty severe along the north coast of Puerto Rico, so by now it's probably in the BVIs. They say warmer waters are part of the problem, so like everything else it's being blamed on global warming. But there may be some biological reasons as well.

It's not everywhere, though. We had some friends dive a month ago off the east coast of Puerto Rico, and they were able to find some healthy reefs.
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:57   #9
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I wonder if the loss of coral reefs has anything to do with the loss of bees on land. Perhaps the same chemicals? Anyone have any info on this?
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Old 22-04-2009, 17:23   #10
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We haven't found good coral in the BVI's on our last two trips either. We went to St. Marten, St. Barths, and Anguillia this year with similar results. Lots of sea fans and a couple of brain coral but nothing really colorfull. When we went to the reefs off Abaco we had really nice live coral.
I'm trying to decide on going to Belize or the Grenadines next year. Any opinions on these two for coral?
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Old 22-04-2009, 20:50   #11
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Although I haven't been to Belize for a few years when there we were very disappointed to find that many of the snorkelling hot spots listed in our Snorkelling and Scuba guide to Belize were no more. Dead coral was everywhere. But we understood that the scuba spots were still OK. We found better snorkelling in the Bahamas and Cuba.

Warmer more acidic waters are to blame, as are hurricanes and non native fish.

I can well believe the Grenadines are suffering the same.

Best to go now before it is all gone (which of course will be the real beginning of the end for us on land)

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Old 23-04-2009, 09:03   #12
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My experience in 98-2001 was the best snorkling, abundant fish and reefs were in the Bahamas, take your time going through!
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Old 23-04-2009, 11:08   #13
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but in TWO years?!?!

I've read the articles on bleaching .. and I'm not talking about that .. full out dead / missing coral. Also the timeframe in which this is happening two years .. at this rate there will be next to none left in the BVI in another two years.

Can anyone relate this sudden loss to some event in the last two years?


Cheechako: Your experience from 10 years ago doesn't really contribute to this thread, although I'm glad you experienced great snorkelling .. do you have any more recent experience in the BVI?
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Old 23-04-2009, 11:48   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottie2 View Post
I've read the articles on bleaching .. and I'm not talking about that .. full out dead / missing coral. Also the timeframe in which this is happening two years .. at this rate there will be next to none left in the BVI in another two years.

Can anyone relate this sudden loss to some event in the last two years?
Scottie
I realize it didn't look like the bleaching you saw in those articles, but not sure I understand about "full out dead and missing" coral. Take a look at the photos in this link, where they show the end state of the bleaching, does it look like that?
Climate Change: Coral Reefs

2 years seems like pretty quick to get to those states, but I don't know of any event in the BVIs in that timeframe. There's been some near miss hurricanes, but nothing bad that hit the islands.

I saw bleached coral in Culebra over a two year span but it wasn't dead or missing as you saw, just whitish with no color.
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Old 23-04-2009, 12:32   #15
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Really sad to hear. I remember being in the BVI during the early 90s. Back when you could hang out in 'The Baths' and not see a single soul, before the cruise ships etc. I never really saw bleached coral back then. As for fully missing coral, doesn't fully bleached coral just solidify and disintegrate over time?

I really do wonder what is exactly causing this to happen. I want to blame tourism and such, but perhaps this is happening everywhere even in remote places, but you only hear about it in the more traveled of areas.
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