‘Algae taking over some Brunei reefs’

National 1 minute, 55 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A SURVEY by Reef Check Brunei has shown that some coral reefs in the sultanate are experiencing an increase of algae growth, which may be attributed to overfishing and pollution.

This was revealed during the International Symposium on Marine Biodiversity 2016 held at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism building in Berakas yesterday.

Speaking to the media, Lydia Koehler, a marine biologist who delivered a presentation during the symposium entitled “Reef Check Brunei 2016 – What changed since 2012?” said that the survey showed that the coral reefs in Brunei are generally in good condition.

However, she said that there are some parts of the country’s coral reefs that were in “worse conditions.”

Koehler, who was a trainer for Reef Check Brunei, said that when her team surveyed the reefs that were not in good condition, they saw a lot of “damage” in the form of trash as well as “a lot of algae covering the corals.”

During her presentation, she said that algae cover in the nation’s coral reefs has increased by 61 per cent since the country’s last reef check survey in 2012.

She attributed the increase to overfishing. She explained that the herbivorous fauna in the coral reefs are decreasing therefore the algae growth cannot be controlled as they are not consumed.

She added that nutrients or chemicals from sewage channels may also contribute to the increased growth of algae in the nation’s coral reefs.

Koehler said that algae is detrimental to coral reefs, as well as the fauna that live in it, because coral is unable to resettle or grow on a reef dominated by algae.

“When you cannot control algae growth, the ecosystem (of the coral reef) might shift where there is more algae than coral (and) this will be less beneficial for marine animals,” she said.

“This is because the less coral cover you have, the less marine animals you will find living in those reefs,” she added.

The survey was conducted over ten days involving 42 survey sites on 16 different reefs and 30 hours in the water.

The International Symposium on Marine Biodiversity was organised by Oceanic Quest with the support of Shell Deepwater Borneo Limited.

It was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism and the Biodiversity Research & Innovation Centre.

The Brunei Times