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06 Cuba Expedition 1998
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01 transects 1 and 2
June 3, l998 Bahia Honda The water depth in this area is about four feet in the deepest area and shoals to about two and a half feet. There was a very healthy sea grass field at the beginning of this snorkel on the outside of the bay however it was lacking lacking in fish and conch. We snorkeled from the fort toward the area where Stormy Weather was anchored. As we moved in toward the bay, algal blooms became prevalent: Sargassum helix and Chaetomorpha linum. It is very obvious that a nutrient overload is pulsing out of the bay as the water color changed dramatically from deep Gulf Stream blue from the entrance of the harbor to an opaque green on the inside, a distance of less than one mile. June 4, l998 Bahia Honda transect #1 The first video transect was on a reef to the west of the entrance to the Bay. this area of very shallow water 6-10 feet was located directly west of entrance buoy #2 which is identified on the chart. N 22 59.008 W 083 10 .065. This reef is subject to the majority of water flowing out of the bay due to the westerly set of the onshore current flowing westerly past the mouth of the bay. There were no sea urchins or fish of any size and macroalgae dominated this reef. Several fresh boat grounding scars were evident one of which smashed into the only healthy Diploria clivosa in the area. DeeVon discovered a fresh water senote with much cooler water on the reef. The few formations of Elkhorn coral that were present were dead. It was of little surprise to find algae dominating this reef considering Bahia Honda is a port where dangerous chemicals are transferred. June 4, l998 Bahia Honda transect #2 Transect 2 was located on the east side of the entrance to the harbor . The area was very shallow and flat surrounded by sand and sea grass. There were very few large corals in the area, giving the impression that this area has always taken the brunt of heavy seas protecting the entrance to the bay. There was a wide diversity of small coral colonies, all of which were threatened by an abundance macroalgae. In both transect #1 and #2 there were no healthy sea fans. At T#2 two men in snorkel gear were spear fishing. This reef had a yellow turf dominating the bottom, similar to an algae that we saw growing on the shallow reefs near Negril, Jamaica in Long Bay
03 Cayo Levisa transect 3
Cayo Levisa June 6, l998 transect #3 water green Transect #6 was located due east of the sea buoy marking Quebrada San Carlos, the western approach to Cayo Levisa, which is marked on the charts N22 53 00 W 83 34 00. This reef sits on a shelf very near to deep water. This reef was dominated by a yellow turf algae approximately 4cm in height. This yellow algae was also growing on sea fans and other gorgonians in this area. There was one large patch of Acropora palmata along with many other isolated palmata colonies. Dozens of Coralliophila could be found on each colony suggesting that the white spots observed on the coral were due to snail grazing. Many of the sea fans exhibited signs of Aspergillosis.
04 Cayo Paraiso transect 4
June 7, l998 Cayo Paraiso Transect #4 water green Transect 7 was in twenty feet of water at N22 55 00 W 83 28.5, a position west of Cayo Paraiso. This dive took place in the early morning on a once majestic coral reef. This reef is dominated by a wide variety of macroalgae and exhibited symptoms of Black Band disease and other non- specific ‘white’ coral diseases. This was the first reef to have well established coral colonies of considerable size. An interesting observation was the fact that near many coral outcroppings the Thalassia sea grass had grown right up to the edge of the coral without the presence of sandy ‘halos’ that normally surround them. The lack of a sandy halo surrounding the perimeter of the majority of coral formations indicates an absence of fish. Very few fish were observed. Many of the sea fans exhibited symptoms of aspergillosis.
05 Cayo Paraiso transect 5
June 7, l998 Cayo Paraiso Transect #5 water green This was a very shallow snorkel transect at N 22 55. 579 W 083 27. 106 Once again macroalgae dominated the sea floor. This was a flat shelf exposed to northerly winds with quite a bit of Acropora palmata in various stages of health. The extremely shallow palmata was completely dead. The other palmata colonies appeared to be in decline. Very few Coralliophila coral eating snails were observed. There was a great deal of the White Plague Type II observed and much of the Acropora palmata was covered in macroalgae.
06 Cayo Levisa transect 6
Cayo Levisa June 9, l998 transect #6 water green This dive was located north east of Cayo Levisa at N 22 54. 179 W083 30. 866 on a reef marked on the chart. This reef is very close to a deep drop off on a plateau ranging from six feet to thirty feet. On the ledge of the embankment there was a wide variety of coral species dominated by macroalgae. A ‘stop light' parrot fish was observed with fish lesions similar to infected fish that were seen in Palm Beach, Florida during the summer of 1987. The Acropora palmata observed were not very healthy and the sea fans displayed symptoms of aspergillosis. Coral bleaching was evident on the Diploria clivosa but not pronounced on other species of coral. White plague was also present on the small Montastrea colonies. The Dichocoenia stokesi looked very healthy. At another reef close to this one we snorkeled without laying a transect. No sea urchins or commercial species of fish were seen. We did see a spear fisherman at the resort indicating that these reefs are fished. Tobacco farming is within a couple of miles from this area. There was an abundance of Coralliophila on the few colonies of Acropora palmata at this reef
07 Cayo Jutias transect 7
June 14, 1998 Cayo Jutias North corner—transect 7 water green. This reef is located off of the western corner of Cayo Jutias. There are many Diplora Strigosa colonies on this reef which has grown on top of ancient shallow coral plateaus very close to the shore line. Many cases of Black Band disease were observed on Diploria clivosa colonies that appeared otherwise, healthy. The Acropora palmata were not looking very healthy either. There were no commercial species of fish nor sea urchins observed. A causeway built to this cay makes it accessible to local tourists. Tobacco farms are located very close to these reefs and there is a large industrial complex nearby at Santa Lucia.
08 Cayo Jutias transect 8
June 14, 1998 Cayo Jutias—Sea buoy on the west side. Transect 8. Transect 8 west of Cayo Jutias was the most diverse reef encountered even though there was a lot of dead coral. This area is not as heavily fished because of its remote location. For the first time, we saw large parrot fish and a few large snappers. Diadema were also spotted in a few areas. Acropora cervicornis was on this reef as well as Acropora palmata. Like most all of the reefs on the north coast, they are subject to north winds and winter storms. There was not as much algae on this reef as on the other transects.
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