A Coral Damage Index and its Application to Diving Sites in the Egyptian Red Sea
Coral damage index, Diver and anchor damage, Carrying capacities, Mooring buoys, Red Sea
A coral damage index (CDI) is provided, to screen sites to obtain a perspective on the extent and severity of physical damage to coral. Sites are listed as “hot spots” if in any transect the percent of broken coral colonies (BCC) is greater than or equal to 4% or if the percent cover of coral rubble (CR) is greater than or equal to 3%. To demonstrate its utility, the CDI is applied to a real-life management situation off Hurghada and Safaga, Egypt in the Red Sea. The extent of coral damage covered all four diving sites. Forty percent of all the transects were “hot spots” that required management action. Thirty-one percent of the 16 “hot spot” transects were identified by both broken coral and rubble criteria, 25% by only broken coral criterion and 44% by only coral rubble criterion of the CDI, suggesting that past breakage was responsible for most of the observed damage. Sixty-three percent of the “hot spot” transects were at 4 m depth versus 37% at 8 m depth, suggesting that most of the damage was caused by anchors dragging across the reef in shallow water. The severity of coral damage, reflected by CR, was the greatest at Small Giftun in transect 5 at 4 m depth (333% above the CDI). EI Fanous experienced the most severe degree of broken coral damage (325% above the CDI) at 8 m depth along transect 2. Estimates of the number of dives per year show diving carrying capacities for El Fanous, Gotta Abu Ramada, Ras Abu Soma and Small Giftun being exceeded by large amounts. The CDI can be used globally to; gauge the severity and extent of damage, focus managers on areas that need mooring buoys and associated dive site management programs, and provide a starting point from which to focus more detailed coral reef assessments and restoration programs.
S. C. Jameson, M. S. A. Ammar, E. Saadalla, H. M. Mostafa, and Bernhard Riegl. 1999. A Coral Damage Index and its Application to Diving Sites in the Egyptian Red Sea .Coral Reefs , (4) : 333 -339. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/324.