Up to 85 % of wave energy can be reduced by reef crest, once dominated by Elkhorn coral, currently an endangered species as its relative Staghorn coral. A comprehensive survey of Elkhorn/Staghorn corals was carried out in Jardines de la Reina National Park (JRNP), Cuba, between August 27 and October 15, 2017, in order to assess species status and distribution patterns.
The Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research (5 scientists, 5 research assistants), MV OFY (2 environmental advisors, 4 crew) and Avalon/Marlin (2 dive instructors) joint efforts to survey 100 % of the 91 km of suitable habitat for these species in JRNP. During the survey almost 7 300 colonies were recorded (about 7 000 of Elkhorn coral). About 100 Elkhorn coral thickets and 3 600 fragments of Elkhorn coral were recorded as well.
Conservation, protection and sustainable management to all corners of the Earth– BLUE SANCTUARY
Elkhorn coral thickets will be the focus for conservation and monitoring efforts. 96 % of the colonies, 94 % of the thickets and almost 100 % of the fragments are located in the western half of JRNP.
More than half of the colonies rank in “good” and “very good” condition, an indicator of a healthy population. Data process and analysis are underway to assess whether these species are recovering in JRNP as it seem to be. This is only the second survey of its kind in the Western Atlantic and the largest one (previous covered 7 km).