After confirming eutrophic conditions existed around Anguilla, a desk study was conducted combined with photographic and survey evidence that supports the theory of Caribbean wide regional eutrophication. Of interest include increased incidences of coral disease, high levels of cyanobacteria overgrowing seagrass beds, recent increases in Sargassum inundation, and episodic ‘Green Water Events’ that have been reported throughout the region over recent years. This theory does not suggest that regional eutrophication is the sole cause of Caribbean coral reef demise, but that it has been under-represented in the scientific literature, with many attempts made to disprove the role nutrient levels have on the current situation. If there are any doubters, then read the research of Galapagos Marine Iguanas, and how their food source runs out in times of nutrient poor upwellings. In terms of the Caribbean declines, nutrient levels are usually down-played to factors such as climate change and ocean acidification: global stressors that local management can do very little about. Regional eutrophication on the other hand would be easier to manage, simply by changing land-use patterns, particularly in North America and Brazil (intensive farming runoff, discharge of industrial effluent etc). However, the financial implications of this are huge for big business, and so it is usually brushed under the carpet and a scape goat sought…. i.e. the usual suspect, climate change.
Project Report > Observational Evidence of Regional Eutrophication (833 downloads )