World renowned for its beauty, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) also plays a key role in marine conservation and supporting sustainable fisheries in The Bahamas. The ECLSP is the oldest national park in The Bahamas and one of the first of its kind in the world. Since 1959 it has been protected and it has been a no-take sanctuary for marine life since 1986.
In July, the Perry Institute for Marine Science led a team of scientists to assess the health of reefs in the ECLSP as part of a long-term monitoring effort that extends over 15 years. Reef assessments included surveys of corals, fish and benthic communities using AGRRA protocols as well as photomosaics of 10m x 10m sections of reef. The research team, comprised of scientists from the Perry Institute, Bahamas National Trust, University of Miami, and Nova Southeastern University conducted surveys at 10 sites within the Exuma Park and 2 outside the park.
While data collected during the trip is still being analyzed, preliminary results indicate that the ECLSP harbours healthy fish populations with an abundance of Nassau grouper and other large grouper species seen in only a few other places in the Caribbean region. Further analysis will allow us to see how protection within the park has benefitted the rest of the reef communities. Stay tuned for the results.