Coral Reef Monitoring
The St Maarten Nature Foundation carries out their coral reef monitoring program according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) Caribbean methods. Reef monitoring is conducted every year to determine the health, composition and state of the island’s reefs.
Following the collaborative GCRMN-Caribbean method gives reef managers more tools to compare reef monitoring data, which will be widely available for a variety of purposes including: to contributing to our understanding of the processes that shape coral reefs; and providing actionable advice to policy makers, stakeholders and communities at variety of special scales from local to Caribbean wide.
The Nature Foundation surveys mainly dive sites in the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area, however other important dive sites around the island are surveyed as well. Currently, The Nature Foundations surveys seven sites for their reef composition; Frenchman’s Reef, Mikes Maze, Proselyte Reef, Long Bay Reef, Fish Bowl, Shark Hotel, and Moonscape.
All measurements are conducted along a transect line and repeated five times on one site. First, abundance and biomass of all fish species is determined, secondly the cover of reef organisms (corals) will be analyzed based on photo quadrats made during the dives and photo quadrats will be also assessed for coral health.
Monitoring is also done looking for coral recruitments (juvenile corals) and algae coverage and heights. Invertebrate species (sea urgins, sea cucumbers, lobster and conch) are counted and water quality is measured. These measurements will help the Nature Foundation to better understand reefs and to determine if our reefs are doing well.