In 2013, Colombian scientists discovered Varadero reef in the least expected place. The reef is located off one of the entrances of Cartagena Bay (Colombia), a highly polluted Bay that receives industrial and sewage waste, as well as high sediment and freshwater loads from an outlet of Magdalena River. The latter is the main cause of the loss of all reefs within the Bay and the high reef degradation at nearby Rosario Archipelago. Varadero reef was overlooked as the high turbidity of its overlying waters led to the assumption that no corals would develop. After a quick initial characterization, Varadero reef was shown as one of the healthiest reefs in Colombian Caribbean waters (up to 80% live coral cover). To understand how and why a highly developed reef is thriving under such unusual conditions, in 2015 data were collected to have a more complete description of the reef in terms of extension, community composition and diversity, coral health and water quality. Varadero reef extends over 1740 m and continues towards Baru island. Although reef structure starts at 30 m, high coral cover is between 2 and 12 m depth. A total of 38 coral species occur there, with Orbicella spp. as the dominant genus. Average live coral cover was 47% and disease prevalence was less than 0,4%. Varadero reef seems to be healthier than nearby reefs, despite the poor quality of its overlying waters. Future research includes studies on the coral holobiont and its responses to environmental drivers and physiological observations to assess algal performance and coral calcification rates.


Pizarro, V., ECOMARES (NGO), Colombia, valeria.pizarro@ecomares.org

López-Victoria, M., Pontificia Universidad Javeriana - Cali, Colombia, malov@javerianacali.edu.co

Rodríguez, S. C., Pontificia Universidad Javeriana - Cali, Colombia, sarisrod13@hotmail.com

Zapata, F. A., Universidad del Valle, Colombia, fernando.zapata@correounivalle.edu.co

Zea, S., Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia, sezeas@unal.edu.co

Alvarado, E., Colombia, ealvaradochacon@gmail.com

Pollock, F. J., Penn State University, USA, FJPollock@PSU.edu

Medina, M., Penn State University, USA, mum55@psu.edu


Poster presentation

Session #:28A
Date: 06/20/2016
Time: 18:30 - 20:00
Location: Poster/Exhibit Hall

Presentation is given by student: No

PosterID: 300