Spatial and Temporal variation of Chlorophyll-a and nutrients in coastal waters of Saba
Anthropogenic stressors such as improper wastewater treatment, dump sites and construction sites can increase nutrient input into marine coastal waters, thereby declining water quality conditions for coral reefs and the surrounding marine environment. Increased nutrient flow in the form of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and phosphorous (DIP) is taken up by phytoplankton leading to enhanced algal and cyanobacterial growth which can be measured by an increase of Chlorophyll – a (Chla). As part of the project, “Restoration of Nature and Resilience in the Dutch Caribbean”, water quality monitoring has been implemented on Dutch Caribbean islands to determine local stressors effecting costal water quality. Thus far, the role of land-based nutrient pollution has not been assessed on the Dutch Caribbean Island, Saba. This report analyses the water quality surrounding Saba’s coastal waters with a focus on Chla and nutrients and their relation to anthropogenic stressors on the island. We analysed the distribution of Chla and nutrients spatially and temporally. It is shown that Chla frequently exceeds the 0.2-0.3μM threshold around the harbour and in the two bays: Well’s Bay and Spring Bay/Cove Bay. Temporally, the highest elevated values can be attributed to the hurricane season form August-October. The first round of nutrient sampling from the week of 25-05-2022 shows that DIN exceeds its threshold for Cove Bay and Tent Reef, with ammonium contributing the largest to the DIN content. In future, attention needs to be paid to the DIN and DIP balance since high elevated ratios have been found at Tent Reef, possibly indicating DIP - limitation. With only one week of nutrient data available, no correlation between Chla and nutrients could be made. Overall, sites such as Tent Reef, Well’s Bay, and Spring Bay/Cove Bay demonstrate the most severely declining water quality based on frequently elevated Chla and nutrient levels. Further research on water quality data surrounding Saba is necessary to confirm these findings and to address stressors contributing to decreased water quality.