Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) Protocol for Reef Quality Assessment in the Northern Red Sea

Event Name/Location

Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment Workshop, June 2-6, 1998

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding




In order to evaluate the status of reefs and the boundaries for new marine reserves in the northern Red Sea, a large-scale survey, which included all reefs between the Straits of Gubal and Ras Banas, was initiated. The methodology was aimed at providing a maximum of information in a minimum of time. As key organisms, corals, fish, and algal turfs received most attention. Corals were visually assigned to one of six community types which had been identified by previous quantitative studies (exposed Acropora reef, sheltered Porites reef, current exposed Millepora orDendronephthya reef, Porites carpet, faviid carpet, soft coral carpet). Notes were made of dominant species, deviations from predetermined average cover values, framework integrity, disease frequency, damage frequency, unusual species, and frequency of high algal turfs. Additionally, photo transects of 10x2m areas were taken in depths of 20, 15, 10, 5 and 1 meters and four 2x2 m squares were photographed at 4m depth. These photographic records allow a more sophisticated evaluation of coral health parameters (vitality, lesion frequency, etc) and are a good visual database. Fish were counted at the same depths by 5 minute point counts, or, where necessary, by 100m transect swims. During the counts frequency was only recorded to family level. The 21 most common families were counted. Additionally, a list of all encountered species was made. The occurrence of other important organisms (crown-of-thorns starfish, Drupella cornus, unusually high sea urchin density, etc.) was recorded.

The REA data were consistent and provided good results, also for the description of impact severity. Degradation of coral communities and concomitant shifts in fish community structure were clearly proven whenever encountered.


The 1998 AGRRA Workshop was held at the University of Miami June 2-6, 1998. Its major purpose was to review the Protocol for Rapid Assessment of the condition of coral reefs and to lay plans for beginning the evaluation of representative examples of Reefs of the Americas (Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico).

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