Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A comprehensive map of all BREAM survey sites

Points indicate reef and seagrass locations surveyed for benthic biota and fish populations by BREAM since 2004


After we mapped the coral reefs and other benthic habitats to a Geographic Information System (GIS) we went out and surveyed the coral reefs, seagrass beds etc to determine their condition, the abundance of the various animals and plants that lived there, whether there were disturbances such as disease and other general measures of ecological health. For a full list of parameters surveyed see the post below.
The map shows the location of each survey site we have assessed. Each site usually took 2-4 hrs to survey, with a team of 3 to 6 divers. All of the data collected was brought back to our office at BAMZ and processed and put into what is now a massive database.

We use this information to develop spatial models of the distribution of important animals such as groupers and brain corals. Also many of the areas we surveyed had never been surveyed before, so the data we collected will act as the "baseline" upon which future surveys can be compared. This will tell us whether the reefs or seagrass have gotten healthier or less healthy through time.

These surveys will also prove useful in indicating what will be lost if the cruise ship channels are re-dredged or widened. That said video surveys need to be done before dredging occurs if we are to really have an accurate measure of coral reef status before and after the impact occurs. AGRRA surveys allow us to get a comprehensive view of many key health indicators, but video surveys are more accurate. The trade-off is video surveys only can assess a smaller range of parameters,