Status of St. Maarten’s Reef
Last September, major category 5+ Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage to St. Maarten. This was a strong reminder of the urgency to preserve the natural buffers that protect our islands from storm damage, such as coral reefs and mangroves, and increase their resilience. Coral reefs are marine biodiversity hotspots that are not only invaluable for coastal protection but also have a high economic value through associated tourism and fishery.
There is limited information on the status of St. Maarten’s reefs over the past three decades as only a few studies have taken place. First rapid observer coral reef assessments since Hurricane Irma showed that the damage is extensive and significant, in the coming month qualitative coral reef research via the GCRMN method will be done to assess the reef damage. Post hurricane data will be analyzed and compared to recent pre-hurricane GCRMN reef assessments conducted in August 2017 and 2016. This will provide insights in the reef structure and can be used to assess the changes in reef condition since this major hurricane stroke St. Maarten.
This news-item was published in BioNews 7-2017