Coral Bleaching Pattern Identification Assists Management of U.S. Virgin Islands Monument
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science researchers and National Park Service partners published a study of the ecological condition of shallow-water coral reef habitats following a 2005 bleaching event in Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. During October 2005, widespread coral bleaching (approximately 51 percent of live coral cover) was observed within the study area, preceded by 10 weeks of higher than average water temperatures.
Nineteen of 23 coral species within 16 genera and two hydrocoral species exhibited signs of bleaching. In subsequent monitoring of the same study area, observed bleaching had subsided to 15 percent in April 2006, and 3 percent in October 2006.
Since 2001, biannual fish and habitat monitoring has been conducted in the shallow (< 30 m) waters of the Monument and adjacent areas. The study appears in the March 2009 issue of the Bulletin of Marine Science.