DIVERS BELOW: EZEMVELO’S LONG TERM MONITORING OF SUBTIDAL REEFS IN KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA
Jennifer Olbers
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract
Marine research at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife includes a long term monitoring programme of the subtidal reefs of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). This project has been ongoing since 2007 and falls within a larger programme which monitors the marine and coastal resources of KZN to facilitate decision making processes and to manage natural resources effectively. The reefs of KZN are subject to a number of threats, i.e. diving impacts, fishing and climate change. This monitoring programme aims to detect subtle changes echoed by the benthic and fish communities on a number of reefs. Six reefs are monitored, three in the north, with host tropical/subtropical species and three in the south, dominated by subtropical/warm-temperate species. Benthic cover is estimated at all sampling sites using a random quadrat method in which photographs are obtained and the benthic cover analysed. To complement this data, underwater temperature recorders are situated at four sites within KZN, recording sea surface temperature at 30 minutes intervals. In late 2013, Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) monitoring will be rolled-out to undertake fish monitoring of both key-species and fish communities in areas with different levels of protection, i.e. sanctuary (no take) vs fished areas (open). In addition to this, a coral bleaching response plan is to be developed over the next four to five years which will include user-based monitoring at Sodwana Bay and will guide management decisions for coral reef management. The biodiversity data, temperature data, progress towards the implementation of the BRUV and a brief insight into the preliminary coral bleaching response plan will be presented.

 
Presentation Topic
DIVERS BELOW: EZEMVELO’S LONG TERM MONITORING OF SUBTIDAL REEFS IN KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA
Contact Ms Olbers:
Email Jennifer Olbers