During our last day on Ambergris Caye, I am looking out over the waves and considering coral recovery on the nearby reef.
Coral polyps feed upon small organisms, zooplankton, and provide the coral with their distinctive colors.
At times, if the coral is enduring the stress of high temperatures, the coral expels these polyps; if this occurs, the coral is considered “bleached”, due to its white color, and has about 2-3 months to regain the polyps before it dies.
The other way coral die is by being overtaken with macro-algae. These algae are typically consumed by grazing fish- parrotfish being the most common example.
In this study, it is asserted that coral recover well in reserve areas because there are adequate grazing fish to fee upon the macro-algae which cover the ever-important coral polyps; in conclusion, the researchers state it would be wise to reduce the number of grazing fish harvested by fisheries and locals for the health of the coral.
My source, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008657, provides a much greater context for the rehabilitation of coral and the management of commercial and personal subsistence on the reef. I strongly suggest reading it to aid understanding of marine life on the reef.
If you have questions or suggestions of natural features or wildlife of Belize for me to discuss here, please contact me at [email protected]