Coral Condition Survey Continues

By Charles LoBue

Second installment by our NYC scientist reporting from EPA’s ocean survey vessel, the BOLD.

We spent the first eight days of BOLD operations deploying dive teams to 60 locations spread across the entire southern coast of Puerto Rico to collect data on the corals.  Information collected at each station included observations and measurements of the corals, fish, reef structure, and other characteristic biota.  Everyone makes three to four dives a day, and the operation is quite repetitive: dive – eat – dive – eat.  If you’re wet, it’s time to eat; if you’re dry it’s time to dive.

As repetitive as it seems, the reef conditions that we encounter as we go along are diverse, and each dive is interesting.  We’ve seen a broad spectrum of reef conditions from severely impacted to thriving and healthy.  We’ve seen corals being impacted by sedimentation and invasive lionfish; we’ve seen the endangered elkhorn and staghorn corals flourishing.  Of course, these are only subjective observations, and scientific review of the data, especially in relation to land-based sources pollution, is needed to better understand reef condition and possible causes.

For more information about EPA’s coral condition survey, visit: Post your questions or comments and we’ll do our best to respond.

About the author: Charles LoBue is a biologist for EPA Region 2 Dredging, Sediment, and Oceans Team. He is an EPA-certified Chief Scientist for the Ocean Survey Vessel BOLD and is divemaster in EPA’s Scientific Diving Program, and has been actively involved in EPA ocean survey operations since 1998.