By Troy Kinder
May 18, 2018
Today our Professor, Dr. Chantale Bégin, presented the preliminary findings of our research to various stakeholders at the Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques Constituency Council. St. Lucia requires that anyone who comes to the island to collect data and perform research must hold a stakeholder meeting to discuss and present findings. The stakeholders represent a variety of organizations that have a vested interest in the preservation and conservation of the fringing coral reefs and their biological inhabitants. Many of these organizations depend on tourism associated with the coral reefs as a primary source of revenue.
The presentation began with a brief overview of the past work Dr. Bégin and other field experts had performed back in 2011. Her 2011 research had been compared to the data collected when the Soufriere Marine Management Association was established in 1995. After reviewing the background data, the presentation pushed towards the preliminary results of our field work and data collection. The data showed that there could potentially be a slight increase in coral throughout the 16 sites we surveyed. Better data will be available once the transect photos are processed and analyzed in Fall 2018. Furthermore, once the sediment collected from the sedPods is dried and analyzed, we can determine if there is a correlation between the amount and type of sediment and the percentage of coral cover.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.