The distribution of black band disease on Bonaire corals in relation to environmental factors

In the 1970s, black band disease (BBD) emerged as a mass coral killer and caught the attention of scientists. Although BBD has been studied for more than thirty years, it continues to confound scientists due to the complexity and composition of the bacterial mat which varies among BBD cases. In previous studies, BBD was found in correlation with small environmental changes. Because the distribution of BBD has not been previously documented for Bonaire, I studied its distribution and measured environmental parameters (depth, temperature, pH, phosphate and nitrogen) at six sites. I also recorded the number of BBD incidents on 3 replicate transects, each 10 m 2 in area and 10 m apart at both 15 and 30 feet. BBD was found at Andrea II (both depths), Angel City (both depths) and Jeannie’s Glory (15 ft), but not at Karpata, Captain Don’s, or Yellow Submarine. Informal surveys at other dive sites on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire showed BBD cases at Monk’s Haven, Monte’s Divi, and Handsoff reef, but it was not present at Boca Bartol or Nukove. Most BBD cases were found shallower than 20 feet. I found no statistically significant differences between environmental parameters and observed BBD cases.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science I (Fall 2006)19: 26-32 from CIEE Bonaire.

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