Document Type

Article

Abstract

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike hit South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 4 hurricane. This study examines the differential damages caused to varying common growth forms, size, locations, and depths of coral by Hurricane Ike on South Caicos reefs. Belt transect techniques as well as line intercept techniques were conducted at nine sites, looking at 14 common species of coral, representing four different growth forms. A total of 9,011 coral colonies were surveyed. 2,832 colonies (31.4%) were found to have at least one type of damage. It was expected that branching and digitate growth forms as well as large colonies would sustain the most damage. The difference in damage between growth forms was found to be highly significant. Large colonies were also found to have significantly more damage (41.1%) than small colonies (29.0%). Colonies located at depths of 9-18m were significantly more damaged(33.3%) than colonies located at depths of 5-8m (28.4%). Coral colonies located at exposed reef sites were found to have more damage (33.5%) than colonies located on protected reef sites (28.4%); however, this difference was not significant. The findings suggests that the intensity of damage sustained by a reef during a hurricane is partially dependent upon the morphology of the species found at the reef and the location of the reef.