Last week we showed our feature story on Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. It is killing the corals in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. Fortunately, is has not spread to other areas as yet. Well, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is also off the coast of Ambergris Caye and the reserve managers say they have to double up on their coral monitoring system to ensure their corals remain healthy. A new feature of that monitoring system is a water quality testing project. Technical Manager of Hol Chan Kirah Castillo told us more about it.
Kirah Castillo, Technical Manager, Hol Chan Marine Reserve "So water quality is important for the reef health, you look at nutrient run off, how much sediment and shading in the water column, pH levels and all of these things so we have just acquired new equipment that will enable us to monitor all of these different parameters that are very important for reef health. We know that one of the things with this disease is that when corals are more stressed, they are more likely to have it so these parameters will help us to see how stressed our corals are. We are collecting temperature data at the moment which is another stress level so we are looking at the parameters that are needed for a healthy reef and we are monitoring these parameters for changes in them."
"We do want to collaborate with the University of Belize and the Department of the Environment who has the capacity to actually test the water but this is where we take the samples and we sent it off to them, we are still working on that and building those relationships in order to do that but for now, we will be starting an initiative just on site and the equipment will give us accurate readings at the site. There are different organizations also doing it so it is just filling in the gaps in our area in specific."
Hol Chan reserve managers regularly monitor the corals in their area.