October 2009 – Bleaching Summary Report for Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR)
Nicola L. Foster – Senior Marine Biologist and Marlon Williams – Junior Marine Biologist
On the 1st and 2nd October 2009, a bleaching survey was conducted at six sites within the Port Honduras Marine Reserve (Table 1). Two surveyors used the weighted-bar swimming transect (WBST) to assess the extent of coral bleaching at each of the sites. At each site, 200 colonies, along two transects, were assessed for paleness, partial bleaching and whole bleaching (>90%).
Colonies affected by bleaching were observed at all six sites surveyed in october 2009. The two most severely affected sites were East Snake Caye 2 and Middle Snake Caye, two of the shallowest sites surveyed. The site at Frenchman Caye was least affected by bleaching, with less than 10% of colonies exhibiting signs of bleaching. The percent of colonies affected by bleaching (pale, partial and whole) was notably less than that observed during the surveys 12 months previously in October 2008, 18% versus 48%, respectively. The lower number of colonies affected by bleaching in the current surveys suggests that bleaching is not as severe as 2008 within Port Honduras Marine Reserve. However, given the current dry, warm period surveys are recommended for the following two months (November and December).