Topography and coral community of the Sisal Reefs, Campeche Bank, Yucatán, México
The Campeche Bank, Gulf of Mexico, is a region with abundant coral reef ecosystems that haven't been studied despite providing goods and services to some human communities. This work presents the topography, coral community and conspicuous reef associated fauna of three reefs of this region: Sisal, Madagascar and Serpiente. Three-D models of reef topography were derived using a GPS-echo-sounder coupled with geostatistical methods. The coral community was assessed through composition, richness, density and size of the colonies.
The size of the Sisal Reefs was bigger than other Gulf of Mexico reefs. Hard coral colonies presented an average diameter of 9 cm and an average density of 9 colonies/m2, whereas octocoral colonies averaged 11 cm in height and presented an average density of 24 colonies/m2. We found 18 hard coral and 14 octocoral species, all of them distributed in the Atlantic Ocean; however, this work is the first to report Carijoa riseii and Phyllangia americana for the Mexican reefs of the Gulf of Mexico.
The conspicuous fauna consisted in species with aquaculture potential (e.g. Octopus maya, Panulirus argus, Periclimenes pedersoni) and conservation priority (i.e. Eretmochelys imbricata). This study shows that these reefs are important centers of marine life and provides a baseline for future research.