Attendees at the AGRRA protocol training workshop in Samaná Bay supported by the USAID Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program. Copyright Miguel Silva de la Cruz.
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy and El Centro para la Conservación y Ecodesarrollo de la Bahía de Samaná y su Entorno (CEBSE), AGRRA scientists Dr. Judy Lang and database manager Ken Marks conduced a training workshop in Samaná Bay, Dominican Republic on the AGRRA methodology, including the benthos and fish protocol and the online data-entry tool.
This training was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development and its Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program which is part of its activities in the Caribbean.
The workshop included classroom sessions at the La Tambora Beach Resort in Los Cacaos, and in-water training consisting of SCUBA dives in the area of La Farola and Cayo Levantado near Samaná and an offshore shoal in the middle of Samaná Bay.
Students conducting surveys at a boat wreck site near Samaná. Copyright Aurelio Reyes.
The seven trainees included representatives from Centro de investigación de Biología Marina, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (CIBIMA, UASD); UASD and CEBSE with the group split between benthos and fish training. The training was very well received and was considered instrumental in assisting with capacity building in that area.
In addition to receiving training on the AGRRA protocol, the group also participated in discussions on resource management. They concluded that due to the fishing pressures on holothurians (sea cucumbers), these organisms should be added to the list of exploited motile invertebrates counted in the benthic belt transects. They also prepared a list of recommendations for fish and coral reserves, co-management opportunities, and for greater networking among the governmental, non-governmental, fishing and diving groups that are active in the bay.
When herbivores are scarce, fleshy macroalgae can expand over dead corals, outcompete live corals and prevent coral larvae from settling. But they are not the only players in the benthic spatial competition game.
Caribbean reefs need diverse herbivores–the echinoid Diadema antillarum (to consume or remove turf algal sediment mats, peyssonnelid algae and macroalgae) , large parrotfish (to help remove the basal holdfasts ), small parrotfish and surgeonfish (to graze macroalgae)–plus fewer nutrients, sediment and other pollutants on nearshore reefs (to facilitate coral health).
The ICRS is sanctioned by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and held every four years. It is the primary international meeting focused on coral reef science and management. The Symposium brought together about 2,500 coral reef scientists, policy makers and managers from 70 different nations in a forum to present the latest research findings, case histories and management activities, and to discuss the application of scientific knowledge to achieving coral reef sustainability.
As we celebrate World Oceans Day today, The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Caribbean Program is happy to announce the launch of the first ever Coral Reef Report Cards for the six Eastern Caribbean countries of St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. CaribNode.org, which is an online data-mapping platform for marine managed areas, is also being launched today across the 6 countries.
Together, the report cards and the CaribNode are an important resource to educate communities and leaders about the health and status of our reefs, and to make informed decisions on marine resource management.
Click the photo below for a colorful cartoon video that explains the report cards, and head to www.caribnode.org to check out the maps, data and all six report cards. Also read full press release.
AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative team up to host “Train the Trainer’s” course.
AGRRA and Healthy Reefs Initiative teamed up to host an advanced “Train the Trainer’s” course in May 9-13, 2016 in Akumal, Mexico. Led by AGRRA’s Dr. Judith Lang and Ken Marks, 18 scientists and managers from Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico participated in the learning intensive hands-on field and classroom course. Over the 5 days participants focused on how to train others on the AGRRA sampling and survey methods, indicators of coral reef health, data consistency and accuracy training, online data entry system and the Reef Health Index.
“We were very enthusiastic on finally getting this certification to expand the human resources and capacities of the Mesoamerican Reef countries to do monitoring with AGRRA protocols”, said Marisol Reuda, Healthy Reef’s Mexico Coordinator. The field course was also a unique opportunity for participants from other countries to share their experiences and questions. The trainee benthic and coral trainers also had a first chance to see the feeding scars of a honeycomb cowfish on a large elkhorn coral, especially as the fish was still in the vicinity of the affected colony, said Dr. Judith Lang, Science Coordinator for AGRRA.
The trainers will now return to their countries to train additional members and prepare for the 2016 Field Season. During the summer, the Healthy Reefs Initiative and over 60 partners will team up to survey over 300 coral reef sites along the Mesoamerican Reef. This year will mark the 10th year anniversary that HRI has conducted AGRRA surveys in the Mesoamerican reef. Our teams will also be on high alert to look for corals potentially affected by coral bleaching since this year is predicted to experience elevated sea surface temperatures.
This Spring, the Bahamas released their first Bahamas-wide report on the state of their nation’s coral reefs. The 2016 Bahamas Report Card includes the condition of reefs, identifies threats affecting them and outlines strategies to help improve reef condition. The report is based on 214 AGRRA coral reef surveys conducted between 2011-2013.
For more information and the full report see the links below: