As if coral in the world didn’t have enough trouble, increased storm activity/strength is interrupting the reproductive/colonization process in southern Belize:
The team measured the size of more than 520 non-branching corals in two major coral reef areas in southern Belize: the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a world heritage site in the second largest barrier reef in the world, and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. In addition to providing habitat for an array of marine life, non-branching massive corals–robust and shaped like mounds, and sometimes called ‘brain corals’–buffer coastal zones from erosive wave energy.
Crabbe’s team determined the surface area covered by the corals and entered the growth rates of the corals into a computer model to determine when in history the coral colonies first settled. They compared numbers of corals that started life in each year with hurricane and storm data, and as suggested by data from fringing reefs of Jamaica, the coral recruitment was much lower during storm years, Crabbe said.
Not surprisingly, tourism and agricultural pollution are the top two threats to corals around Belize.