University of Connecticut, Williams College
With the increasing popularity and promotion of marine park tourism, coral reef ecosystems may be subject to stresses beyond their sustainable thresholds. Mnemba Island’s house reef was surveyed to assess impacts of public use and efficacy of current protection measures. The study was conducted with objectives of characterizing physical damage and providing a holistic overview of reef conditions. To obtain relative impact profiles in the area, line transects were carried out in two different zones - one more frequented by private island guests and one more frequented by boat tour operators. Benthic coral cover and damage, biological indicators (fish populations and sea urchin abundance), and proximal human activity were documented over a two-week period. While instances of tissue damage were comparable at both sites, it was found that the boat-side had a significant amount of unhealthier, bleached, and dead coral as well as rubble and algal growth. More anchor breakage and sediment damage were also observed on the boat-side. All these factors indicate that overall health on the boat-side is compromised, and suggests that coral in that section are more vulnerable and less resilient as a result of higher human activity. The findings demonstrate negative impacts of human activity on coral status, and demand immediate further action in protecting the reef as a whole. Recommendations were made for future monitoring and management in an effort to balance human usage without causing permanent environmental degradation.
Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment
Nangle, Allison and Sheng, Vicki, "Paradise Lost? Impact of Tourism and Public Use on the Mnemba House Reef" (2010). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 826.