Phillip Dustan 1*, Bernadette H. Chapentier 2, Liv Wheeler 3, and Judith C. Lang 4
- 1 Department of Biology, College of Charleston, 66 George St., Charleston SC 29424, USA
2 University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie, Ottawa, ON K1N 9A7, Canada
3 Diving Safety Program, University of Hawai’i, 2040 East-West Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
4 Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment, PO Box 539, Ophelia, VA 22530, USA
- presenting and *corresponding author
When first studied in the 1960s-70s, the ~25-55 m deep pinnacles off Discovery Bay, Jamaica, were well-developed, with high coral cover and a rich associated benthic biota. Biological and geological studies initiated under the leadership of Thomas F. Goreau demonstrated that pinnacle reefs are constructed by expanding frameworks of corals in which sediments are trapped and become lithified in-situ. Thus, at least some deep, modern reefs are naturally accreting, high-relief structures, rather than “thin skins” of living corals, overlying the presumed Pleistocene bedrock.
The 50th anniversary of the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory in 2018 provided an opportunity for us to revisit early research sites on the pinnacles. Combined with observations from field sessions on Dancing Lady Reef in 2013-15, our work has revealed that deep reef communities exposed to multiple stressors are engaged in ecological freefall. Live coral cover and abundance have declined precipitously and most coral skeletons are covered with algae. The present condition of the deeper reefs below 55 m remains unknown.
- Chapter 6 – Discovery Bay, Jamaica
- Dustan and J.C. Lang, 2019. Discovery Bay, Jamaica. pp. 85-109 in Y. Loya, K.A. Puglise, T.C.L. Bridge, (eds.). 2019. Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems, Coral Reefs of the World 12, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92735-0_1
As we continue to work with our partners on reef assessments we will update the website accordingly.