Dead corals Nelsons Island

On the northward facing slope of Nelsons island is one of the largest areas of heavily impacted reef that we saw in 2015. For several hundreds of yards the scene was one of heavy sediment and silt, even on this very steep slope. The reasons can be guessed at: a little further to the west a plague of crown of thorns starfish has been reported and these may have passed across this reef, leaving it essentially devoid of live coral. Secondly the water here was over 30°C which will have stressed the corals, perhaps enough to have killed them. Whatever the reason, live coral cover here is presently less than 1% on the steep reef. The condition of the coral skeletons that are visible here suggests they were killed within the last year.
habitat_degradation stress
Anne Sheppard
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