Volume 73

The current status of the marine environment of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park: Results of the 2019 rapid ecological assessment

Knowles L; C. Dahlgre; K. Sherman
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 71

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Three Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Between the 12th and 17th of September 2019, a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) was conducted on selected reefs and mangroves found within and surrounding the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park (MHCNP), a national park found on mainland Exuma, in the central Bahamas. Standard methods were used to assess fish and benthic communities in both habitats as well as coral community composition and health for reefs: the Atlantic & Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) for the reefs and a modification of AGRRA for mangroves. The assessment was to provide information relating to the marine habitats and living marine species through mainland Exuma; information gained from the assessment will serve as baseline data feeding into the recently completed management plan and upcoming projects that will be undertaken within the park. A total of ten (10) coral reef sites and three (3) mangrove sites were surveyed. Of those sites surveyed, fish abundance and love coral cover within the mangroves and coral reefs that were surveyed was higher than average when compared to other sites within The Bahamas that have been surveyed in the past few years. There was a difference in the relative abundance of snappers/grunts on the reefs and within the mangroves; the mangroves had significant higher representation of those families. Twenty-one (21) species of coral were observed on site with four (4) families observed as large recruits and one (1) family observed as a small recruit. Based on the result of this rapid ecological assessment, the benthic, coral and fish communities are in relatively good conditions. Implementation of the current management plan would help to increase resilience on the systems. Restoration projects, particularly for those reef-building corals can help contribute to the overall improvement of the productivity of the system.

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