July 18 2007

Reserva Marina Tres Palmas Marine Debris Removal Project

by Chad Nelsen

Marine debris poses a serious and lethal threat to animals in ocean environments where tires, clothing and other trash is present. It can also be hazard to safe navigation. The reef communities of the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas include protected species and other rare and wildlife. The threatened Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) and the endangered hawksbill sea turtle both have documented entanglement threats of debris. In addition to marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds; fish and crustaceans are also at risk from entanglement in marine debris.

Furthermore the movement of debris across shallow reefs threatens the ecological balance of the reef community itself. Once marine debris snags on the corals of the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas, it beg

In order to protect the threatened Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, and surrounding benthic environment and inhabitants, this marine debris removal project aims to census, document, and remove derelict fishing gear, clothing, tires and other marine debris in shallow water coral reef environments.

The work includes extensive manta tows and snorkel surveys to establish or resurvey areas to examine debris accumulation rates at sites that have already been cleaned.

The benthic survey and subsequent removal of marine debris from the Reserva Marina Tres Palmas will be carried out in three fashions based on the depth and proximity to coral. Towed free diver surveys, paddleboard-led swim surveys and SCUBA surveys will be employed to cover the reserve in its entirety. By employing three methods, the project will have a greater flexibility in dealing with the fragile benthic environment and the natural environment.

Reserva Marina Tres Palmas

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