15 Oct Reef Health Monitoring Shows Thriving Corals in Lease Islands Despite Warming Temperatures
On October 13-15, 2020, CTC resumed the biophysical survey in the Lease Islands Marine Protected Area which was delayed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey observed trends in changes in resource conditions such as coral cover and fish abundance and biomass in the Lease Islands. The team covered three survey sites to collect reef health data on Nusa Laut Island, three sites for Saparua Island, two sites for Molana Island and one for Haruku Island.
One of the highlights of the team’s initial findings was the significant reduction in coral bleaching compared to the survey in March, where many bleached corals were seen in several locations. The team also noted that many target fish species dominated most sites, such as snapper and parrotfish families as well as surgeonfish, which play an important role in the processes underlying coral reef resilience. Also, the abundance of fish observed suggests that fishing pressure may be reduced in the newly formed marine protected area.
During the survey, the team also found large aggregations of racoon butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) and foxface rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus) indicating spawning activities near Haria. Surgeonfish and wrasse were also seen in large numbers indicating healthy fisheries in the proposed MPA.
This biophysical survey was supported by the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and builds on the earlier surveys under the USAID SEA Project. Biophysical monitoring is planned to be carried out routinely every two years in the area to observe trends in changes in resource conditions and to identify changes in trends in each of the MPA’s zones to assess conservation efforts and marine resource management effectiveness in the Lease Islands.