You are on page 1of 1

The

current state of coral reefs along the North West coast of Mah, Seychelles following the 1998 mass bleaching event
Introduction the 1997-1998 global mass bleaching event;
The Seychelles was an area severely affected by coral mortality due to bleaching was as high as 95% on the reefs around the Seychelles inner granitic islands (Spencer et al., 2000). Efforts to monitor the regeneration of coral reefs in the Seychelles were initiated as part of the Shoals of Capricorn program in 1998, continued on by the governmental organization Seychelles Centre for Marine Research & Technology in 2001 and joined recently in 2004 by Global Vision International. Continuous, long term monitoring of coral reef ecosystems is valuable for time- scale comparisons and determining the health of the reef. The Seychelles rely heavily on the oceans and coastal waters. In 2002 tourism and fishing were the highest source of the countries gross earnings and fish remains the main source of protein for the Seychellois people (Robinson & Shroff 2004), therefore management of this important socio-economic resource is critical.

Samantha Courtney, Lindsay Sullivan & Sharon Drabsch P.O. Box 1240, Mah, Seychelles www.gvi.co.uk

Results & Discussion Scleractinian recruitment

Fish diversity and density During Jan Mar 2010, fish species diversity was found to be slightly higher at sites within Marine National Parks, with a mean number of 39.4 species seen compared to 37.7 outside the Parks. Three sites within Marine Parks had the highest diversity overall, but one site within the Marine Parks had the lowest. There was no pattern discernable for fish diversity and proximity to Marine Park. Since 2005, fish density of the most abundant feeding guilds (herbivores and planktivores) has remained fairly constant up until 2009, most recently recorded at 0.1811 and 0.150 individuals per m respectively. Overall percentage cover of coralline algae has been decreasing since 2007, while macro algae fluctuates at a low percentage cover across sampling periods, which indicates healthy herbivore populations however there is some concern over the decline in coralline algae due to their role in reef building. Invertivores have reported a sharp decline in comparison to the 2008 surveys, from 0.0864 to 0.0435 individuals per m.

Methods Study area coast of the largest and most populated island in
The study area is located on the north-west the Seychelles archipelago; Mah (Figure 1). Eighteen sites, varying in substrate, position and topography are surveyed quarterly while additional sites are included if time permits. Sampling Method Two underwater visual census techniques are employed to estimate reef fish density and diversity. Eight stationary point counts of 7m radius area and four 50*5m belt transects are completed at every survey site. Fish biomass can be calculated using size estimation techniques of commercially targeted species. Scleractinian recruitment density is quantified using thirty 1m quadrats per site and six 10m Line Intercept Transects per site are used to quantify hard coral, algal and epibenthic organism percentage cover on the reef substrate. Target invertebrate density and diversity, including species sought out by local fishermen, are monitored using two 50*5m belt transects at every site.

In 2009 a total of 14 hard coral families were identified as recruits, those of highest density belonged to the Faviidae and Poritiidae families at 4.24m2 and 2.80m2 respectively, followed by the families Acroporidae and Pocilloporidae at 1.76m2 and 1.07m2 respectively. Overall, the greatest density of coral recruits was found on granitic sites (14.89m2) and within the upper recruit size class of 2.1 5.0cm (7.16m2) which corresponds with the high availability of suitable substrate for growth. Mean coral recruit density has steadily increased since surveying began in 2005 and initial surveys by Engelhardt in 2002 (Figure 2), however mean density slightly decreased in the most recent survey period in Oct-Dec 09 (12.8 per m2) from the previous period of Jan Mar 09 (13.4 per m2).
Mean Coral Recruit Density (m-2 SE)

0.14 0.12 0.10 Density (m-2) 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0.00

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

Figure 3. Fish density (SE) comparison within Marine Parks and outside Marine Parks

Fish family/group

Figure 2. Mean hard coral recruit density (SE) from 2002 - 2009

Aim To monitor reef ecosystem components including fish density, diversity and size estimation, hard coral cover and recruitment as well as density of commercially important invertebrates to contribute to long term reef recovery data.

Hard coral cover From 2004 to 2010 hard coral percentage cover has gradually increased at both granitic and carbonate sites to 37.5% and 31.7% respectively (Figure 3), while cover within shallow and deep depths have converged to a similar value of around 34%. In 2002 Engelhardt et al. (2003) found carbonate reefs within the Seychelles exhibit significantly lower percent live hard coral cover as compared to granitic reefs, which corresponds to the results obtained here. In 2008 mean coral diversity around north- west Mah peaked at around 30 genera and although has declined slightly in the most recent surveys during 2010 still remains high and appears to be stabilizing at this value.

Interestingly, the families Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfish) and Serranidae (Groupers) were the only fish groups with higher densities inside the Marine Park compared to outside the boundaries (Figure 3). Up until recently, bamboo fish traps have been operating within the Marine Parks which generally catch Scaridae (Parrotfish) and Siganidae (Rabbitfish) which may account for the lowered densities found in these areas. Additionally, some sites surveyed are located off the main island which may deter local fishermen from fishing there due to logistical and monetary constraints.
45 Mean percentage coral cover (SE)

40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

Carbonate Grani5c


Figure 1. Aerial view of Baie Ternay Marine Park, Mah, Seychelles

Invertebrates Densities of Diadema spp. and Echinothrix spp. in particular should be Figure 4. Hard coral cover (SE) across two substrate types from 2004 - 2010 closely monitored; in high densities these algal grazers can cause Summary inadvertent harm to new coral colonies, impeding recruitment rate and In summary although no baseline data is available for with prolonged high density indicate algal dominated environments comparison prior to the 1998 mass bleaching event hard (Engelhardt 2001). Granitic reef sites have been found to exhibit higher coral percentage cover, coral recruitment and fish density densities of these species than carbonate sites, however due to high have been increasing since surveying begun in 2005 which scleractinian recruitment at granitic sites populations appear not to be indicates recovery is occurring even with external factors affecting recruitment rate and may be in fact aiding the process. The sea such as population growth, coastal development and fishing pressure increasing across the island. cucumber trade in the Seychelles is expanding as demand in Asia is References Engelhardt U., 2001, Report on scientific field studies and training activities conducted in June/July 2001. increasing. In the most recent surveys, of the seven sites with over 10 Seychelles Marine Ecosystem Management Project, Interim Report No.1, Reefcare International/World cucumber individuals recorded only 2 were located within marine parks. Wildlife Fund, Victoria. Engelhardt, U., Russell, M. and Wendling, B. (2003), Coral communities around the Seychelles Islands 1998 2002, Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean Status Report 2002, CORDIO, Schroff, The sector in Seychelles: overview, The five commercially targeted species are either recorded as the Sweden epp/ 212 - o231. Robinson, J. and eychelles J. (2004), nd Dfishing ournal, 7:1. Spencer, Tan eleki, K.A., with an mphasis n artisanal fisheries. S Medical a ental J . T Bradshaw, C., Spalding, M.D. (2000), Coral bleaching in the southern Seychelles during the 1998 1997 lowest abundance on belt transects or not recorded at all. Indian Ocean warm event, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 40(7): 569 - 586