A measure of the coral reef in Puerto Rico

This week, we had the opportunity to review a paper written from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez by Emmanuel Irrizarry-Soto and Ernesto Wail in 2009. The paper is titled “Spatial and Temporal Variability in Juvenile coral Densities, Survivorship and Recruitment in La Parguera, southwestern Puerto Rico.”

What they describe in this paper is a method for counting the juvenile population of coral; basically, coral that is growing and developing and is of small size. The experiment was conducted in La Parguera Puerto Rico and it covered a terrain of a quarter of a square mile and measured at different depths to collect their samples. Photographic samples were taken at different depths, more than 18 meters deep, and examining a total of 96 meters.

Globally, coral reefs are disappearing at an increased rate with discernable means of stopping it. Performing spot checks like this seem to be a great way to gather a snapshot of where we are at locally.  It allows us to benchmark and document the rate of coral loss or gain each year and the results are pretty scary. The study found 718 juvenile corals in the area in 2003, then reduced to 396 in 2005.  Not only did the total amount of coral went down, but also the number of species that they found. The total number of species collected reduced from 31 to 28.

Irrizarry-Soto and Wail also speculate possible factors that could be causing this change, separating them by corral species and external factors. The discussion on reproductive mechanisms was pretty interesting, especially for someone like me who is not familiar with the specificities of coral.

This coral problem is one of the biggest natural disasters that we are currently seeing in the world. Just this month, a new article was released by Scientific American on this very topic.

Its important that we do scientific experiments like this locally and we should try to provide our support.

If you want to read the entire paper you can find it online at the following location: