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The incidence of hurricanes on the north coast of Jamaica since 1870: are the reef descriptions atypical?
Woodley, J.D. (1992). The incidence of hurricanes on the north coast of Jamaica since 1870: are the reef descriptions atypical? Hydrobiologia 247: 133-138
In: Hydrobiologia. Springer: The Hague. ISSN 0018-8158, more
Peer reviewed article  

Also published as
  • Woodley, J.D. (1992). The incidence of hurricanes on the north coast of Jamaica since 1870: are the reef descriptions atypical?, in: Jaccarini, V. et al. (Ed.) The Ecology of Mangrove and Related Ecosystems: Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Mombasa, Kenya, 24-30 September 1990. Developments in Hydrobiology, 80: pp. 133-138, more

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Document type: Conference paper

Keyword
    Marine

Author  Top 
  • Woodley, J.D.

Abstract
    When the coral reefs of north Jamaica were described and studied in the 1950's, 60's and 70's, their shallow zones were dominated by dense thickets of Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis. Those stands were demolished by hurricanes in 1980 and 1988, but these seemed to be unusual events. Published records of storm tracks indicate that, in the last 120 years, about 35 hurricanes have passed within 364 km (200 nautical miles) of Discovery Bay, Jamaica. In the absence of information on their intensity, an approximate measure of their impact is the reciprocal of their closest distance. Recent experience suggests that passage within about 65 km, whether to the north or the south, generates waves capable of destroying Acropora stands. There have been 13 years, out of the last 120, in which hurricanes have passed that close to Jamaica, with a median interval of 6.5 years. Large colonies of A. palmata (over 1 m high) might take about 12 years to develop. The total number of years in which the reefs have been free of major disturbance for longer than 12 years is only 33, and 24 of them (1956-80) were in the unusually long interval of 36 years, from 1944 to 1980. The luxuriant Acropora stands of the classic descriptions may therefore be atypical; one extreme of a variable condition.

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