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Abalone Caye - Here to stay and new fish magnet

Abalone Caye - Here to stay and new fish magnet

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Published by Semaj Yelof
Abalone Caye, a small island in Port Honduras Marine Reserve and the location of TIDE's marine ranger station, is being saved from being washed away by the waves by a new artificial reef. Besides protecting the caye from erosion, the defenses have had some suprisingly positive effects on local marine life. More funding is needed urgently to complete the work!
Abalone Caye, a small island in Port Honduras Marine Reserve and the location of TIDE's marine ranger station, is being saved from being washed away by the waves by a new artificial reef. Besides protecting the caye from erosion, the defenses have had some suprisingly positive effects on local marine life. More funding is needed urgently to complete the work!

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Published by: Semaj Yelof on Jan 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/02/2013

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Coastal defense becomes wildlife haven: a new reef promises new life for Abalone Caye, above and below the waves
 
 A
 
 year since efforts began in earnest to save Abalone Caye and the Port Honduras MarineReserve (PHMR) ranger station from being washed away by rising waves, the constructionof an artificial reef around part of the caye has not only slowed and perhaps even stopped theerosion, but surveys show fish abundance and biodiversity to have increased in the vicinity.
The new artificial reef has also become a handyeducational tool, providing an ideal shelteredlagoon full of fish, with easy and safe access forschool children and other groups to snorkel inand learn about marine life, and all right next tothe ranger station!
After a high number of turtle strandings this year,a rehab facility could be included into the design,providing a safe and convenient location forstranded marine animals, such as turtles, torecover under surveillance by the ranger staff.Abalone Caye has been steadily eroding for at leastfive years, but when water began to reach underthe building during storms it was decided actionmust be taken to secure the future of the PHMRranger station.Why is this so important? The ranger station is the
central hub for TIDE’s enforcement and research
activities, and the loss of this dot of land couldseriously threaten the ability of TIDE to carry outits core functions in protecting the reserve.Managed Access, a government and NGOcollaborative pilot initiative to improvesustainability of fishing in Belize, is currently beingtested in PHMR, and community participation iscritical to the success of the program.Without Abalone Caye, located strategically in thecentre of PHMR, operations would have to move to
 
 A large buttonwood, now half in the sea, is all that stood between the seaand the ranger station in 2010. Previous attempts to stop erosion usingtires and wooden stakes failed.Path to the dock, getting washed away by storm waves. Boat access to the caye was seriously threatened by the erosion
By James R. Foley, TIDE Science DirectorDecember 2012
 
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a less central location, increasing patrol costs,reducing patrol effectiveness (particularly in theSnake Caye Replenishment Zones), and requiringmore effort from fishers to submit Managed Accesscatch data on the caye, making this less likely andreducing the effectiveness of the pilot program.Additionally, being located in Port HondurasMarine Reserve, and being under the protection ofTIDE, we were reluctant to cause human impactsto a second caye in this pristine wilderness. TIDEdoes not in fact own any other cayes in PHMR, andso after a cost-benefit analysis it was decided tofocus efforts on rescuing our existing assets.The idea was then raised to construct some type ofphysical defense structure to protect the caye fromthe constant battering of waves, especially duringrough weather.
Possible Causes:
There are a number of possible causes of theincreased rate of erosion in recent years. It may bedue to natural processes occurring on a regionalscale, such as increased storm frequency or sealevel rise. Southern Belize suffers coastal erosionmore than other areas of Belize, but this does notexplain why neighbouring cayes are not eroding as
Erosion trends at Abalone Caye. The windward side has experienced extensive erosion, leaving an area of shallow shelf larger than theremaining island. This shallow water increases wave size immediately upwind of Abalone Caye, accelerating erosion rates. Conversely,material is deposited on the leeward side of the caye due to increased friction close to the island as waves pass. This causes waves to slapinto each other, creating a sand bar on the sheltered side. This is causing the island to slowly migrate downwind. The ranger station was predicted to be lost within the next 3-5 years without action.
Waves during a storm, washing over the caye and under the stairs of theranger station. This coconut tree is the last piece of vegetation standingbetween the sea and the building. Early construction phase of artificial reef in background.

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