Study finds holes in Saba Bank coral reef

POSTED: 05/6/11 2:36 PM

WAGENINGEN – The Saba Bank, one of the largest atolls in the undersea world, is suffering from rising sea temperatures. According to a study from the Imares scientific institute at Wageningen University, the Saba Bank coral reef shows large holes and significantly decreased growth.

The study was commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation following last year’s adoption of the Saba Bank as part of the Netherlands. It was appointed a national park in October 2010.

The Saba Bank is about 2,000 square kilometers in size. Earlier international studies have shown the area is rich in species and important for marine biodiversity.

Imares researcher Eric Masters took 200 photographs and films of the Saba Bank coral in recent months. Several times he said he could see with his own eyes how coral reefs were degrading. According to him, areas of coral that were close together 16 years ago are now far apart. The good news, he says, is that Saba Bank reefs growing closer to shore exhibit virtually no problems.

The ministry wants the Imares institute to re-examine the Saba Bank later this year to better understand its natural ecological processes. The ministry also wants to assess the bank’s capacity as a lobster fishing location.


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