Effects of Human Recreational Activities on Seagrass Beds in Lac Bay, Netherlands Antilles

Seagrass beds are important habitats associated with coral reefs. Seagrasses are nursery areas for juvenile fish, and they act as buffering zones by dissipating wave energy (Kemp, 2000). In the proposed study, human related impacts on seagrass beds were studied. Many issues affect seagrass beds health, such as water quality decline due to pollution, water temperature rise due to global warming, dragging of fishing nets, dredging, and human recreational activities (Kemp, 2000). This study aimed to measure the potential effects of human recreational activities on the seagrass beds in Sorobon on Lac Bay, Bonaire, an island of the Netherlands Antilles. In the first part of the study, the activities of windsurfers, swimmers, waders, kayakers, and others were monitored, and quantified. The intent was to determine which of these recreational activities may result in damage to seagrass beds in the study area. The second part of the study compared seagrass beds in areas exposed to high human activity to areas where human activities are less frequent, with the intent to assess the relation of health of the beds with high and low levels of human activities. The results of this study show that there is a relationship between human recreational activities and the health of seagrass beds. In areas of high human disturbances, both seagrass percent cover and number of leaves are lower than in areas of low human disturbance. This study also shows that not all human interactions interact with the seagrass habitat in the same amount; different recreational activities interact with the seagrasses in different amounts.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science III (Spring 2008)19: 37-41 from CIEE Bonaire.

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