Curaçao’s Oostpunt Reef among the Best in the Caribbean

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CSA’s Mark Hawkins comments on the article below, which highlights the importance of the reefs of Curaçao, Bonaire, Bermuda, and the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico: “Curacao’s south-east end of the island (“Oostpunt” or Eastpoint) has not until now been permitted to be developed and therefore, off the coast is one of the best reefs in the Caribbean. However, recent changes in zoning are going to allow development by the owners and this has started a protracted fight about economic development versus protection. This is especially an important fight because the Oostpunt reef ‘feeds’ the rest of the reefs along the south coast with coral larvae, which helps those reefs stay in better condition.” Many thanks to Mark (¡Hola!) for bringing this item to our attention:

Interim data shows that the reefs of Oostpunt—together with the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of Bonaire and Bermuda—is one of the few ‘success stories’ in the region. This was made evident during the biannual meeting of all marine biological research stations in the Caribbean area, united in the Association of Marine Labs of the Caribbean (AMLC). It was decided to plan the next AMLC-meeting on Curaçao in 2015. Carmabi was represented with three researchers – including scientific director Mark Vermeij – at the biannual meeting in Jamaica last week. [. . .] The interim results of a two-year independent study by Prof. Dr. Jeremy Jackson from the Scipps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla (California) who is also senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama were presented.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the environmental program from the United Nations (UNEP) ordered this study, which was conducted by 78 researchers from 34 Caribbean countries and contains information from over 35.000 separate studies from the period 1969 to 2012. This new study contains all known information on the situation of the Caribbean coral reefs for the first time.

‘Largest ever’: The study, which Vermeij describes as the largest coral study ever, draws attention once again to the reefs of Curaçao. “The other researchers showed great interest for the reefs of Curaçao after Prof. Dr. Jackson presented the results and for that reason AMCL decided to hold the next meeting on Curaçao in 2015”, said Vermeij.

Deterioration: The amount of coral in the entire Caribbean area has decreased with 68 percent since 1969. “This is the first time that a calculation was made to check if this deterioration is the same in the entire region. This does not appear to be the case. The Florida Keys and the Virgin Island are the worse off and the deterioration of coral doesn’t seem to stop. Other locations – Jamaica and Costs Rica – have already lost the largest part of their coral”, said Vermeij.

Exceptional’: It was also announced during the meeting which reefs are in the best condition. “The few reefs falling in this category are described in the report as the ‘Caribbean success stories’, namely the reefs of Oostpunt on Curaçao and three other reefs in the Caribbean – the Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico and certain parts of Bonaire and Bermuda”, said Vermeij. ‘This independent study now confirms previous allegations from among others Carmabi that the reefs of Oostpunt are considered exceptional in the entire Caribbean area”, he concludes.

For full article, see http://www.amigoe.com/english/156071-oostpunt-in-top-3-best-caribbean-reefs

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