Sunday, July 7, 2013

Belize 2013 | After the Storm

New England Aquarium coral biologist Randi Rotjan, PhD, and aquarists Peter Gawne and Joe Masi have recently traveled to Belize to monitor coral health near Carrie Bow Cay. Tune in here for updates about their research and animal encounters, and see pictures from previous expeditions herehere and here

Today's post comes from Peter Gawne.

A large quantity of debris has gathered in an eddy behind the island.  Numerous coconuts, lumber, Styrofoam and even an entire palm tree are floating in the small debris field. Some of the debris, as well as a lot of dislodged algae, has washed up on the island itself. We’ve found some unusual seeds, small bits of trash and numerous snails and snail shells washed ashore by the unusually heavy waves. The hermit crabs were unusually active at the water’s edge once the waves subsided, prowling around for the possibility of a new home.

An elkhorn coral lays shattered and displaced shortly after the worst of the tropical storm.

A brief window in the weather allowed us to get out onto the reef and get the last of our transects done.  The waves were rather large which made for a rocky deck, and some heavy surge when underwater. The heavy storm conditions have affected the reef as well as the island above the waves.  Some large Acropora palmata have been dislodged and shattered in the shallows.  Some of the low-lying corals were also scoured by the sand.

Fresh damage on an elkhorn coral.

The weather service upgraded the tropical depression to Tropical Storm Barry. The impact on Belize’s coast was severe. Dangriga, our launch point to the Cays, was hit quite hard. The locals spoke of knee-deep water in the streets, and heavy winds that exacerbated the flooding. More intense weather was expected to come soon, so the effort was focused on bracing for the next storm, rather than picking up from Barry. I wish them well in the coming days.

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment