40-years study: the rise of slimy cyanobacterial mats

A team of researchers conducted a 40-year study off the coasts of Curaçao and Bonaire, documenting shifts in local reef populations, specifically: corals, algal turfs, benthic cyanobacterial mats, macroalgae, sponges and crustose coralline algae. It’s very likely that decreased water quality paired with an increase in water temperature are the main catalysts for the increase of algae and cyanobacteria. If current trends continue, these reefs will continue to experience a decrease in calcifying corals, which could lead to a decrease in the structural complexity of the entire reef system. Without waste water being properly treated and managed, this is a problem that will continue to grow as these islands further develop with increasing local populations and tourists, and increased coastal development.

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