Reef Ecology

With a population approaching 300,000, Barbados is one of the most densely populated islands in the world. As a result human impact on coastal and marine habitats has been noticeable. Combined with the increase in tourism, this has had a long term effect on the reefs and beaches. In fact, long-term monitoring studies on some fringing reefs show that the cover of live coralline algae and corals has been significantly reduced over the past two decades. There are numerous reports of reef stress from sewage, thermal effluent, dredging, fishing with explosives and an increase in suspended matter nitrates and phosphates. Acropora palmata was common on the Barbados fringing reefs in the Pleistocene and large tracts were even reported on the south coast in 1910, but this species has since virtually disappeared as a reef builder.