A baseline water quality assessment of the coastal reefs of Bonaire, Southern Caribbean

Bonaire is considered to harbor some of the best remaining coral reefs of the Caribbean, but faces multiple pressures including eutrophication. We measured multiple water quality indicators twice annually, from November 2011 to May 2013, at 11 locations at the west coast of Bonaire. This study resulted in 834 data points. DIN concentrations ranged from below quantification to 2.69 μmol/l, phosphate from below quantification to 0.16 μmol/l, and chlorophyll-a from 0.02 to 0.42 μg/l. Several indicators showed signs of eutrophication, with spatial and temporal effects. At southern and urban locations threshold levels of nitrogen were exceeded. This can be a result of brine leaching into sea from salt works and outflow of sewage water. Chlorophyll-a showed an increase in time, and phosphorus seemed to show a similar trend. These eutrophication indicators are likely to exceed threshold levels in near future if the observed trend continues. This is a cause for concern and action.



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