Bonaire National Marine Park—Algal Survey and Inventory
The Littler’s team [including Barrett Brooks, Don Hurlbert, Barbara Watanabe and Larry Gorenflo (Conservation International)] traveled to the island of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles (1 Nov 06 to 14 Nov 06). The purpose of this expedition was to assist the Ministry of Nature Affairs for the Netherlands Antilles (MINA) and the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International to assess the current status of Bonaire’s marine flora. The team collected over 300 specimens from the upper reef to a depth of 56 m. This assessment increased the known species reported from Bonaire by 35% (Appendix II, List of Species). The marine flora is typical of many Caribbean reefs with no specific areas of extremely high diversity or unique species composition. Also included in this evaluation are over 100 digital images (Appendix III), properly identified to the species level in most cases. These images may be used by managers in web sites, oral presentation, training manuals, brouchures, etc., to make marine plant identification possible for Bonaire’s many divers, volunteers, conservationists or interested agencies.
The team surveyed the health of the reefs using key indicator species (recognized from our >30 continuous years of coral-reef research) in reference to the growing problems associated with eutrophication and overfishing along tropical and subtropical shorelines worldwide. The ecological responses of corals and macroalgae to nutrient enrichment and release from predation have been repeatedly cited as priority areas in need of further research (National Research Council, 2000; Littler & Littler 2006).