This second expedition is part of an NWO funded project entitled Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems - interactions of anthropogenic ocean acidication and eutrophication with bioerosion by coral excavating sponges.

The goal of NIOZ's Saba Bank expeditions is to understand the interaction between the environment and coral reef functioning. Researchers aim to better understand the hydrography and to determine if net ecosystem calci cation occurs on the Saba Bank. In other words is the Saba Bank growing or eroding and which factors can explain these processes?

Healthy coral reefs exist in dynamic environments in which its primary builders, corals, experience a bal- anced growth (calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production) and erosion. Corals are exposed to bioeroding organism such as sponges, worms and parrotfish scraping off the associated algae or directly degrading the reef’s carbonate skeleton. For example coral excavating sponges are reported to be the most important bioeroding organism in the Caribbean often killing the corals when competing for space. A variety of human-induced pressures cause ocean acidification and eutrophication of the marine environment. This negatively affects corals and other carbonate producing organism living on our reefs.

Recent studies have demonstrated that ocean acidification not only weakens the calcium carbonate skeleton of coral but also increases sponge biomass.

In BioNews 29 the full article of NIOZ Saba Bank expedition

More information

BioNews 29

Scientific contact persons:
Fleur van Duyl
Lennart de Nooijer

Communication contact:
Jan Boon (also for pictures in high resolution)