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

Status of the Reefs in the Turks, Caicos, and Mouchoir Banks

Event Name/Location

9th International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali, Indonesia, October 23-27, 2000

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Coral reef of the Turks, Caicos and Mouchoir Banks (TCI) were surveyed using the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) protocol in August 1999. Twenty-eight study sites on the rims of the banks were surveyed and a total of 3276 corals in 289 transects, 1421 algal quadrats and 279 fish transects were measured. The TCI expedition focused on the reefs of both remote and more popular areas, and reefs in marine protected and unprotected areas. The TCI area is at the far southern extent of the Bahamas Archipelago and may be an important source of larvae for the reef dwellers and builders as ocean currents drift up from the south. Live coral cover and coral recruit occurrence was lowest, and the percent recent mortality, old mortality and total mortality and the incidence of white, black, and yellow band syndromes was the highest on the Mouchoir Bank, the most remote location. Coral cover averaged 17.8% across the region, but was 13.8% on the Mouchoir Bank. Bleaching was not observed at any of the study sites, whereas, the white plagues were found at every site. Acropora palmata stands occurred mainly on the eastern facing areas of the bank, and A. cervivornis was rare at all but one location. Fish size and abundance was lowest on the Mouchoir Bank. The reefs in the TCI are most at risk from under regulation in marine parks where tourism and development and from poaching and hazardous fishing practices (Dominican poachers and local fishers using gasoline mixtures) which is obvious in the Mouchoir and South Caicos regions.


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