Overview of Bahamian Coral Reef Health: Current Status and Recent Trends

Presented by Craig Dahlgren

Craig Dahlgren, Krista Sherman, Judy Lang & Patricia Kramer

The health of Bahamian coral reefs is affected by multiple threats from global, regional and local human impacts, which have increased over the past 40 years or more. As a result, corals and the fish and invertebrates that depend on them have seen dramatic declines. Here we give a synoptic overview of the current state of Bahamian coral reefs and the important fish and invertebrate populations associated with them. The current health of coral reefs in various parts of The Bahamas was determined using comprehensive assessments of reef health, using the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) or comparable survey methods, which include assessments of the condition of benthic communities, coral populations, and populations of key fish and mobile invertebrate species. Results of these surveys were used to evaluate and compare important indicators of reef health on reefs throughout The Bahamas and the Caribbean region. Additional data from other sources and survey types are also included to complement these data. In some locations, repeated surveys over 5 to 20 years enables us to document changes in reef health. Results indicate that Bahamian Reefs are generally in Poor condition for most indicators, but conditions throughout the country vary considerably. Based on our analyses, some of the key threats driving declines in reef health are identified and strategies to reverse the decline of Bahamian reefs are presented.

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