Dead reef slope 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, coral cover here is presently less than 1% on the steep reef. In addition this area experiences slumps from the reef at the top which slide downwards, leaving substantial scour marks. In this site a section of reef about 20 m across had slid down slope to come to rest at about 30 m deep.
habitat_degradation stress
Anne Sheppard
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