Physical Habitat Mapping and Assessment in Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary, Westmoreland, Jamaica
Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences
Geography, Geology, and Planning
Rising population in the coastal Caribbean have caused the decline of marine resources as demands exceed sustainable levels. The decline of fish populations and fish habitats like seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangroves is costly because the regional economy depends heavily on tourism and fishing. Major causes of damage are overfishing, climate change, pollution, and sedimentation. In order to address this problem in Jamaica, the Agriculture Ministry created a network of marine protected areas in 2009 including the Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary (BBFS) in Westmoreland. The legislation specified the need for a baseline survey of each new fish sanctuary. This study reports on the baseline physical habitat survey of BBFS which is located between Belmont and Savanna-La-Mar and is about 8 km long, 2 km wide, and 10 m at maximum depth. Satellite imagery and field observations were used to map benthic habitat. GPS photologging was completed to map and assess intertidal habitat. Depth, water quality, and benthic habitat type were recorded via GPS along offshore transects. Bathymetry contours were generated from a kriging interpolated surface with a 95% confidence level and error of +- 2.3 ft. Diver validation of benthic habitat yielded 90% accuracy. The most common type of habitats were mangroves (41.7%) for intertidal and seagrass beds (82%) for benthic. Patch reefs with total area 0.77 km2 made up 6% of the benthic habitat; but some small coral reefs may have not been detected given the scale of the assessment.
Jamaica, marine protected area, habitat, bathymetric, kriging
Marine Biology | Natural Resources and Conservation
© Jennifer Denise Carroll
Carroll, Jennifer Denise, "Physical Habitat Mapping and Assessment in Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary, Westmoreland, Jamaica" (2013). MSU Graduate Theses. 2766.