Coral Mortality Event Will Result in Increased Monitoring in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and its partners estimated a coral cover decline of 25% on a deep reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands based on photos taken using a remotely operated vehicle during a sea floor mapping mission in 2005. Deeper coral colonies were more affected than shallower colonies on the same reef.
This is the first discovery of such a pattern of coral loss on a deep reef in the Caribbean. The extensive loss of deep reef coral is especially noteworthy as they could serve as a source of future recruits for shallow reefs during times of stress.
NOAA and its partners are continuing their research efforts to fill critical information gaps about the condition of deep coral reefs and the possible ecological linkages with shallow reefs. NCCOS and their partners from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service reported these findings in the October 1st issue of the journal Continental Shelf Research.