Feb 15th - Feb 21st, 1999
Some noted - approx 10% of corals affected
None conclusively identified
Relatively low at study site, much plankton in the water, though on surrounding reefs it seemed quite good.
One spotted, very large, on a patch reef
The Togian reefs were all very interesting. Many of the reefs in the area, including our study site, looked as if they had experienced a massive die out at some point in the past, and had re-grown more or less successfully. Without access to past data, we can only surmise that the cause of the die-off was a volcano which erupted in the area approximately ten years ago (source: Supplement 6-1996 to Indonesia Pilot, Vol. II, 1983, corrected to 1996). There were many large heads which retained only small patches of living polyps. In other areas new species appeared to have colonized the dead corals. A vast proportion of the corals in our transect were dead and algae-covered (95% of colonies analysed with Vitareef showed signs of algae overgrowth). There was very little soft coral evident.
The reef we studied was a fairly large barrier reef (main section approx. 2.5 miles long, with a section we didn't explore which (according to the charts) may reach up to 5 additional miles; most of the other reefs in the area were fringing or patch reefs. The reefs were also, in most areas, at least partly destroyed by fishermen using bombs. During the course of our 11 day stay in the region, we heard five underwater blasts. Most of the reefs we dived on had sections of corals reduced to rubble, and subsequent algal growth due to fertilizers used in the bombs. They were larger bombs than we have experienced in Banggai and in Wowoni Island, causing greater areas of devastation. We did not see many large fish in the area, and even smaller reef fish were relatively sparse.
Corals were growing extremely deep - crest generally dominated by Acropora, Porites slightly deeper, and lettuce corals at great depths (to 40m)