The Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP) has been running for 25 years, monitoring the health of coastal ecosystems in the wider Caribbean region. Results from that monitoring have recently been published.
A team including Smithsonian marine biologists just released 25 years of data about the health of Caribbean coasts from the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP). The study provides new insights into the influence of both local and global stressors in the basin, and some hope that the observed changes can be reversed by local environmental management.
The largest, longest program to monitor the health of the Caribbean coastal ecosystems, CARICOMP revealed that water quality decreased at 42 percent of the monitoring stations across the basin. However, significant increases in water temperature, expected in the case of global warming, were not detected across sites.
More than 25 years ago, in 1992, researchers at institutions across the Caribbean began to set up stations to gather environmental data on mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs at coastal sites.
They began to take weekly measurements of water temperature, salinity and visibility at stations placed to avoid direct interference from cities, towns and other direct human impacts.
The team gathered CARICOMP data from 29 sites in Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Colombia, Costa Rica, Florida, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saba, and Venezuela and organized it into a single data set. This includes data taken for periods from three years, at stations added to the network more recently, to 22 years.
The related research article, Widespread local chronic stressors in Caribbean coastal habitats, is available online in its entirety.