The coral reefs of Tobago represent some of the southernmost reefs in the Caribbean and have developed under the influence of runoff (e.g. terrestrial sediment and nutrients) from South American rivers. Local terrestrial runoff resulting from poor land management practices have also impacted reef development. Benthic surveys were conducted at 11 sites around the island in order to assess reef status. Mean (±SD) coral cover across Tobago was 14.9 (±7.6) % and macroalgae cover was highly variable ranging between 65 % at Bulldog Reef (Atlantic Coast), to 1.2 % at Mt Irvine (Caribbean coast). Montastrea faveolata (Ellis) and Diploria strigosa (Dana) dominated scleractinian coral communities and gorgonians accounted for 12.3 (±7.1) % of total benthic cover. Yellow band disease was observed on the major reef builders, M. faveolata, at most sites. The grazing urchin, Diadema antillarum (Philippi), have not recovered since their demise in the 1980's. However despite limited grazing, the majority of monitoring sites were still dominated by coral communities.
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