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Reef systems show resilience

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, March 08, 2018

THE "Marine Biological Survey of Coral Reefs in the northern Lau Group" report revealed that Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston affected half of the 33 reef sites surveyed.

Results of the survey conducted last year by the Vatuvara Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed profiles of each site were made to describe the reef type, current, exposure, reef structure and relief, habitat complexity and general observations.

"A total of 47 coral types (genera) were found across the sites, including massive and sub-massive Porites, Platygyra, Favites and Acanthastrea corals; and branching, plates, tabular and encrusting coral forms of Pocilliopora, Stylophora, Turbinaria, and Acropora," the report stated

"Hard coral was the dominant substrate with the highest cover recorded at Vatuvara Island (27.9 per cent) and lowest at Adavaci Island (9.1 per cent).

"Reef systems in northern Lau appeared to show a high degree of resilience to natural disturbances, likely a result of their exposure to extreme wave action and weather conditions.

"A high number of fish totalling 293 species was recorded during the survey."

The report revealed that overall, fish populations showed high diversity within the families — Labridae, Pomacentridae, Chaetodontidae, Acanthuridae and Scaridae.

"Populations of at least eight species listed on the 2017 IUCN Red List of threatened species were identified," the survey revealed.

"This includes the globally endangered humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), four shark species and the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas) including the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)."

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