Rapid Assessment of Stony Coral Richness and Condition on Saba Bank, Netherlands Antilles


Combining the findings of this study with that of other studies, the authors conclude that the coral assemblage on the Saba Bank is diverse and healthy; it is representative and typical of those found elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Coral Richness

  • A total of 43 species were documented.
  • There were no significant differences in coral composition amongst bottom types or depth classes.
  • There was a significant difference between sites near and far from the platform edge. The number of coral species observed ranged from 0 and 1 in algal dominated habitats to 23 at a reef habitat on the Bank’s southern edge.
  • Coral species richness was higher on reef dominated areas as opposed to algal dominated ones.

Coral Condition

  • Bleaching was evident at 82% of the sites assessed with 43 colonies bleached.
  • Only three coral colonies were observed to have disease.
  • Five reef sites had stands of Staghorn Coral (Acropora cervicornis), a critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List.
  • No physical damage consistent with anchor usage or sand scour from shipping activity was noted at any of the sites assessed.

Management Recommendations

  1. Immediate action is necessary to protect the diverse coral reef habitats documented.
  2. The five healthy stands of staghorn coral (A. cervicornis) and their surrounding should be given highest priority for full protection in the zoning use plan under development (in consultation with all stakeholders).
  3. More information is needed on the Saba Bank to create a comprehensive zone use plan. For example, more sites need to be studied so as to get a more comprehensive coverage of the bank’s coral composition.

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