Today we were out diving the shallow southern reefs after a bit of a hiatus thanks to hurricane Sandy. While we weren’t directly affected by the hurricane, the storm did stir up some very large swells in our area. This, of course, means a lot of beach erosion as the large waves continuously impact the littoral edge for many days.
But what most people do not see is that these strong swells also affect our reefs. If the swells are strong enough they can even rip out a good amount of the soft corals and sponges. The storms can even topple over hundred year old stony corals. Thankfully, from what we assessed on our dives today, this was not the case.
What the forces of hurricane Sandy did do was remove a lot of sediment from the edges of the reef. Many of the ledges we know so well were almost indistinguishable. Some areas had an extra 2-3 feet of reef structure exposed from the bottom. Normally, this reef structure is buried under a lot of fine sediment which is deposited here thanks to the improper and constant beach renourishment projects done on our beaches.
Thankfully, most marine life inhabitant do not take long to colonize this new reef structure. Eels were already hiding in the bleach white structure. Even a pair of neon gobies had opened up a cleaning station on a large brain coral that had been suffocated under the sand. I’m sure it won’t be long before these areas are covered in soft corals and sponges again.
The marine life did not seem affected by the storm. It is believed most marine animals are gifted with senses that help them predict any impending natural disaster. Don’t believe me? Watch for the erratic schooling behavior of some fish like the pork fish just before a cold water upwelling affects our area. Whatever their secret, it was good to see the large schools of fish still busy in their day-to-day life on the reefs we visited.
We hope you enjoy today’s photos from our dive:
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