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Rapid assessment of stony coral richness and condition on Saba Bank, Netherlands Antilles
McKenna, S.A.; Etnoyer, P. (2010). Rapid assessment of stony coral richness and condition on Saba Bank, Netherlands Antilles. PLoS One 5(5): e10749. https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0010749
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203; e-ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine/Coastal

Authors  Top 
  • McKenna, S.A.
  • Etnoyer, P.

Abstract
    The benthic habitats of Saba Bank (17°25′N, 63°30′W) are at risk from maritime traffic, especially oil tankers (e.g., anchoring). To mitigate this risk, information is needed on the biodiversity and location of habitats to develop a zone use plan. A rapid survey to document the biodiversity of macro-algae, sponges, corals and fishes was conducted. Here we report on the richness and condition of stony coral species at 18 select sites, and we test for the effects of bottom type, depth, and distance from platform edge. Species richness was visually assessed by roving scuba diver with voucher specimens of each species collected. Coral tissue was examined for bleaching and diseases. Thirty-three coral species were documented. There were no significant differences in coral composition among bottom types or depth classes (ANOSIM, P>0.05). There was a significant difference between sites (ANOSIM, P<0.05) near and far from the platform edge. The number of coral species observed ranged from zero and one in algal dominated habitats to 23 at a reef habitat on the southern edge of the Bank. Five reef sites had stands of Acropora cervicornis, a critically endangered species on the IUCN redlist. Bleaching was evident at 82% of the sites assessed with 43 colonies bleached. Only three coral colonies were observed to have disease. Combining our findings with that of other studies, a total of 43 species have been documented from Saba Bank. The coral assemblage on the bank is representative and typical of those found elsewhere in the Caribbean. Although our findings will help develop effective protection, more information is needed on Saba Bank to create a comprehensive zone use plan. Nevertheless, immediate action is warranted to protect the diverse coral reef habitats documented here, especially those containing A. cervicornis.

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