GVI Mexico Punta Gruesa Oct-Dec 2010 Annual report

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GVI MexicoPunta Gruesa Marine Expedition Mahahual

Quarterly Report 104 Review: January 2008 - December 2010

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GVI Mexico, Punta Gruesa Expedition Report 104 Submitted in whole to GVI Amigos de Sian Kaan Comisin Nacional de reas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP)

Produced by Laura McHugh Science Officer Erin Lawrence Base Manager AndGenevieve Gammage Tristan Brown David Blundell Oliver McGuinness Ruaidhri Le Mage Rachel Budworth Joanna Richardson David Sawyer Carolina Ruiz Lozano James Wilderspin Gareth White Mark Cowking Brad Doyle Sarah Glanfield Jennifer Jones Base Manager Science Officer Field Staff Field Staff Field Staff Scholar Scholar NSP NSP Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Faith Morrison James Broadway Kelly Markowitz Kyle Antonchuk Lisa Gagliano Maria Kroeger Mike Wood Maura Schonwald Catherine Daly Chad Brooks Carlita Foster-Hogg Alexander Gowan Samuel Stellmach Sebastien Languille Daniel Benito Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer Volunteer

Edited by Stuart Fulton GVI Mexico, Punta Gruesa Email: mexico@gviworld.com Web page: http://www.gvi.co.uk and http://www.gviusa.com

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Executive SummaryThe twelfth 10-week phase of the Punta Gruesa, Mexico, GVI expedition has now been completed marking 3 years at the site. The expedition has maintained working relationships with local communities through both English classes and local community events. The expedition has continued to work towards the gathering of important environmental scientific data whilst working with local, national and international partners. The following projects have been run during Phase 104:

Monitoring of strategic sites along the coast.

Training of volunteers in the MBRS methodology including fish, hard coral, and

algae identification.

Continuing the MBRS Synoptic Monitoring Programme (SMP) for the selected sites within the Mahahual region to provide regional decision makers with up to date information on the ecological condition of the reef.

Providing English lessons and environmental education opportunities for the local community.

Further developing the current Marine Education programme for the children of

Mahahual that works alongside the standard curriculum. Liaising with local partners to develop a successful and feasible programme of

research in collaboration with GVI into the future.

Contining to add to a coral and fish species list that will expand over time as a comprehensive guide for the region.

Continuation of the National Scholarship Programme, whereby GVI Punta Gruesa accept a Mexican national on a scholarship basis into the expedition.

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary Table of Contents List of Figures List of Tables 1. Introduction 2. Synoptic Monitoring Programme 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Aims 2.3 Methodology 2.4 Results 2.5 Discussion 3. Community Work Programme 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Objectives 3.3 Activities and Achievements 3.4 Review 4. Incidental Sightings Programme 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Aims 4.3 Methodology 4.4 Results 4.5 Discussion 5. Marine Litter Monitoring Programme 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Aims 5.3 Methodology 5.4 Results 5.5 Discussion 6. Bird Monitoring Programme 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Aims 6.3 Methodology 6.4 Results 6.5 Discussion 7. Seagrass Monitoring Programme 7.1 Introduction 7.2 Aims 7.3 Methodology 7.4 Results 7.5 Discussion 8. References 9. Appendices Appendix I SMP Methodology Outlines Appendix II - Adult Fish Indicator Species List 4 GVI 2010 Page 4

Appendix III - Juvenile Fish Indicator Species List Appendix IV - Coral Species List Appendix V - Fish Species List Appendix VI - Bird Species List

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List of FiguresFigure 2-3-1 Figure 2-4-1 Figure 2-4-2 Figure 2-4-3 Figure 2-4-4 Figure 2-4-5 Figure 2-4-6 Figure 2-4-7 Figure 2-4-8 Figure 2-4-9 Figure 2-4-10 Figure 2-4-11 Figure 2-4-12 Figure 2-4-13 Figure 2-4-14 Figure 2-4-15 Figure 2-4-16 Figure 2-4-17 Figure 2-4-18 Figure 2-4-19 Figure 2-4-20 Figure 4-4-1 Figure 4-4-2 Figure 4-4-3 Figure 4-4-4 Figure 4-4-5 Figure 4-4-6 Figure 4-4-7 Figure 5-1-1 Figure 5-3-1 Figure 5-3-2 Figure 6-4-1 Figure 6-4-2 Figure 7-4-1 Figure 7-4-2 Figure 7-4-3 Figure 7-4-4 Figure 7-4-5 Figure 7-4-6 Map of the monitoring (yellow) and training (green) sites for GVI Mahahual Percentage cover of hermatypic coral and macro algae by phase Percentage Cover of Hermatypic Coral and Macro Algae by Site for Phase 104 Percentage cover of hermatypic coral by site from phase 081-104 Percentage cover of macroalgae by site from phase 081-104 Deviation from Average Percentage (081-104) of Common Corals in 104 Relationship between Dictyota and Halimeda Bleaching Occurrence 081-104 Bleaching occurrence in Siderastrea siderea compared with bleaching occurrence in other coral species Disease Occurrence 081-104 Percentage of coral colonies with signs of disease Predation Occurrence 081-104 Predation Index: Total number of predation events divided by number of colonies monitored 081-104 Adult fish recorded per transect across phases Total adult fish biomass per phase Average Percentage Abundance of Adult Fish by Family: Phases 081-104 Changes in adult fish family percentage abundance Percentage abundance of adult fish families per site during 104. Percentage abundance of juvenile fish families by phase Percentage abundance of Acanthuridae and turf algae by phase Density of Diadema antillarum and Stenopus hispidus recorded by phase Sightings of common elasmobranch species per site visit 091-104 Sightings of moray eels per site visit 091-104 Turtle sightings per site visit 091-104 Number of dolphin encounters per site visit from 091-104 Number of S. barracuda sightings per site visit from 091-104 Number of Lionfish Sightings per site visit 101-104 Size distribution of lionfish recorded during phases 101-104 Marine litter washed up on the beach at Punta Gruesa Percentage of total weight by category for phase 104 Average weekly weight of rubbish collected by phase Composition of common bird species (30 or more sightings) in phase 104 Composition of most common (average 5% or more) bird sightings as a percentage across all phases (092-104) Average percentage cover of seagrass on seagrass transects during phase 102 and 104 Average percentage cover of T. testudinum and S. filiforme on seagrass transects during phase 102 and 104 Average blade length of T. testudinum on seagrass transects Relationship between T. testudinum blade length and predation during phase 102 Relationship between T. testudinum blade length and predation during phase 104 Average epiphyte cover on T. testudinum blades on seagrass transects during phase 102 and 104

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List of TablesTable 2-3-1 Table 2-4-1 Table 2-4-2 Table 2-4-3 Table 5-3-1 Table 7-3-1 Name, Site ID, Depth and GPS points of the monitoring sites. Coral colonies monitored by CC at Punta Gruesa Number of transects and adult fish recorded per phase Number of transects/juvenile fish recorded per phase Marine litter collected as actual weight (kg) for phase 104 GPS positions for seagrass transects (Units in WGS 84 Format hddd.dddddo )

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1. IntroductionThe Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) extends from Isla Contoy at the North of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, to the Bay Islands of Honduras through Belize and Guatemala and is the second largest barrier reef in the world.

The GVI Marine Programme within Mexico established its first base, Pez Maya, in the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve in 2003. Since then the programme has flourished, with a sister site being set up to the south of the Biosphere near Mahahual. The current projects of GVI Pez Maya and Punta Gruesa are assisting Amigos de Sian Kaan (ASK) and Comisin Nacional de reas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) to obtain baseline data by conducting marine surveys along the coast of Quintana Roo. By obtaining this data, ASK and its partners can begin to focus on the areas needing immediate environmental regulation; therefore, implementing management protection plans as and when required.

Such a project is especially significant in current times of rapid development along the coast near the small fishing village of Mahahual area, due to the tourism industry generated by the cruise ship pier that was built near the town in 2002.

The cruise ship pier was badly damaged following Hurricane Dean in August 2007 and remained out of operation until October 2008 when Mahahual again began to receive cruise ships. The current terminal can berth three cruise ships with, on average, seven arrivals per week during high season. The cruise ships bring a flood of tourists into the Mahahual region, an area that, at present, only has a limited infrastructure to deal with large numbers of people. Furthermore, plans are underway to increase the number of cruise ships in port and to develop the roadway through the mangrove system, increasing access to vacation homes and hotels. There are also plans to re-open the small airport about 5 km from Mahahual in an effort to get more people to the area. Such development invites degradation of the ecosystems contributing to the health of the reef, as well as activities directly disturbing the reef, such as wave runners and environmentally unaware tourists, increasing the pressure on marine resources. Consequently, effective monitoring is becoming ever more important. By assessing the health of the marine environment, new

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policies can be formulated and environmental degradation prevented if the appropriate measures are taken to advocate long-term, sustainable ecotourism.

Punta Gruesa is located approxima