26 Sep Annual Coral Reef Monitoring in the Nusa Penida MPA
It is that time of the year again to check-up on the health of the coral reef ecosystems in the Nusa Penida MPA! On 26-30 September, 2018, a dedicated team of scientific divers braved strong currents, swells, and cold water to measure the structure of benthic organisms (coral, sponge, algal, and other invertebrate communities) and fish abundance in 15 monitoring sites across the three islands comprising the Nusa Penida MPA: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. The annual reef health monitoring surveys in the Nusa Penida MPA area are conducted to obtain the most up to date data on coral reef substrate and reef fish populations, both of which are important factors for determining reef health and the effectiveness of management in the MPA. Annual monitoring results are essential for preparing work plans to achieve successful MPA management. These activities also aim to establish and further strengthen collaborations between partners and managers involved in the Nusa Penida MPA management.
The coral reef substrate is measured using the Point Intercept Transect (PIT) method, which involves 3 x 50 m transects and recording the life form category at every 0.5 m point, totaling 100 points per transect and 300 points in total. The fish abundance is measured by fish observers who swim along a transect of 5 x 50 m and record the type of large and small fish along with the length of the fish which gets converted into weight in order to determine the fish biomass. Fish observers also do a 400 m or 20 minute long swim.
Data retrieval for two sites, Kutampi and Manta Bay, were unsuccessful due to dangerous ocean conditions such as close proximity to watersport activities (jet skis, banana boats, and fly fishing) as well as dangerously strong current, swell, and very cold-water temperatures. Data will be retrieved from Kutampi and Manta Bay once the ocean conditions are safer for divers.
The survey team observed a high abundance of fish in several locations, including a number of unique and important marine biota such as sharks, turtles, snappers, giant trevally as well as large sunfishes and manta rays. Specifically, the Atuh Bay site, which is a core zone found several types of sharks, barracuda, and various types of large sized fish. This location is critical because it is a fish spawning area and is prohibited from carrying out any activities without a permit from the Management Unit of the MPA. Coral reefs in some locations have been damaged as a result of a storm that occurred in July so this monitoring is important to record how much damage was caused by the storm. The location that was most affected by the big waves was Crystal Bay where there was a decrease in live coral cover up to around 28%. The impact of the massive waves on average caused a 10% reduction in live coral cover in the Nusa Penida MPA. There is a high enthusiasm from tourists to dive in Nusa Penida, so it is crucial that the MPA is continuously managed to ensure sustainability.
The reef heath monitoring program in 2018 was carried out by the CTC based on assignments by the DKP of Bali Province, with full support from partners: Lembongan Water Sports, Tamarind Divers, Ceningan Divers, Nusa Penida Water Sports, World Diving Lembongan, Bali Diving Academy, Siren Dive, Blue Corner Lembongan, Legend Dive, Lembongan Dive Center, SPN Lembongan, and UPT KKP Nusa Penida. The divers were composed of staff and volunteers from the CTC, Blue Corner Lembongan, Ceningan Diver, UPT KKP Nusa Penida, Lembongan Dive Center, Lembongan Water Sport, Bali Diving Academy, Tamarind Divers, STP, and SPN Lembongan.