Field Update: Scientific Assessment of Curaçao’s coral reefs halfway complete
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Waitt Institute) – The Blue Halo Curaçao Scientific Assessment of all coral reefs around Curaçao that started November 9this halfway complete as of last weekend. A team of twelve visiting scientists from universities in the US as well as scientists from Carmabi, spent the first five days of this expedition diving near Westpunt where reefs on the south and north shore of the island were surveyed. Last Saturday, the Waitt research vessel that serves as a “moving laboratory” for this expedition has moved to Fuik Baai from where the reefs on the eastern side of the island will be surveyed.
So far, scientists have surveyed 150 meters of reef every 700 meters along Curaçao’s coast for 114 locations. Each location is being surveyed for the abundance and diversity of reef fishes and corals, other organisms that comprise the benthic community, the occurrence of microbes and viruses in the water column and water quality. These surveys will be the most comprehensive survey of Curaçao’s reef communities to date and likely will make the island’s marine resources the best surveyed in the world. After analyses, the data will be used to determine the status of marine resources in Curaçao’s coastal habitats. This scientific assessment is a critical step in the work of Blue Halo Curaçao, which was launched in February when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of Curaçao and the Waitt Institute. The Blue Halo initiative is a recent collaboration between the Waitt Institute and the Government of Curaçao to design strategies to sustainable manage the island’s marine resources for future generations. The data collected will be analyzed and compiled into a scientific report that will be released in early 2016 and all data collected during the Scientific Assessment will be provided to the Government and people of Curaçao.
The goal of Blue Halo Curaçao is to envision, create, and implement comprehensive sustainable ocean policies. Work toward achieving this goal is based on science and input from the community. Because the project started only recently, no ocean policies have yet been drafted and the data that is currently collected during the scientific assessment of Curaçao will be a first step towards what new ocean management measures might be appropriate and effective.
The expedition will end coming Sunday after surveying the reefs of Klein Curaçao and those along the North side of Oostpunt.