REEF HEALTH MONITORING PROGRAM
Duration: October 2022 - now
About the project
In Matemwe (north-east of Zanzibar) lies the the Zanzibar Reef. This is a shallow coral reef, providing natural breakwaters which buffer shorelines from waves and storms. Their rough surfaces and complex structures disperse the force of incoming waves. This prevents flooding, erosion, property damage and loss of life.
Coral reefs undergo cycles of disturbance and recovery. The extent differs among regions. These cycles take place over decades. Understanding the changes is complex. From October 2022 we started our reef health monitoring program. In this program we’re collecting data about the reef in a repeatable way. This helps scientists and the government to understand the natural variability of reef populations. Which is essential to make the right marine management decisions.
Snorkeling to get better insights
First, the volunteers of World Unite are getting trained. After training they snorkel together with a marine biologist from Under The Wave to collect detailed information about the reef. Details like fish species abundance, diversity, length and biomass, numbers of juvenile corals, numbers of crown-of-thorns starfish and difference in corals. They also look at factors which cause coral death, such as coral predators, coral disease and levels of bleaching. These data are recorded in our database.
Snorkelers survey a marked stretch of reef on a weekly basis. These fixed site surveys offer detailed information about animal life and plants of the reef community and how they change.
We also conduct a beach monitor in Matemwe on a weekly basis. The beach monitoring helps us to investigate activity. Like fishermen walking over the reef, women harvesting seaweed, tourists and anchored boats on the shallow reef by low tide. We measure the impact of these activities on the corals and reef invertebrates on the shallow reef.
From understanding to restauration
Our reef health monitoring program is an important source of data and information about the health of the Zanzibar Reef. It contributes to fundamental knowledge about coral reefs and how reefs are changing. The collected information is shared with local communities to take proper action for restoration and protection of the reefs. A healthier marine ecosystem will benefit all the local actors exploiting the sea.
If you want to help us to investigate the Zanzibar Reef, please donate for the reef health monitoring program. Thanks a lot!