Top Story

Hurricanes in 2017 did not greatly damage corals, but reefs were already in trouble

Marine biologist Peter Edmunds was prepared for the worst. Back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes had torn through the Caribbean in September 2017. The scientist and his colleagues weren't sure what they'd find when they visited fragile coral reefs near the island of St. John after the storms. Decades of reef degradation created a coral community that was resistant to the devastation usually seen after severe storms like hurricanes Irma and Maria, which hit the Caribbean and Eastern United States in the fall of 2017. Edmunds and colleagues have spent 31 years mapping and documenting the state of the coral community off the island of St. John. Their three decades of research gave them the background to assess how badly the 2017 hurricanes had impacted the coral community. Edmunds thinks the coral reefs of the 1980s and 1990s are not likely to come back. But, he said, information he and other scientists have gathered can contribute to the management of the resilience of the coral ecosystem.

Visit Website | Image credit: Peter Edmunds