4 Dec 2009

Coral breakage main tsunami casualty in American Samoa reef damage report

1:24 pm on 4 December 2009

A preliminary assessment in American Samoa of coral reef damage from the tsunami has identified coral breakage as the main outcome.

The report, released by the Governor's Coral Reef Advisory Group this week, is based on a 13-reef survey.

All were reef flats with two having crest and slope sites.

The report says the impact of tsunami was variable, with reef flats and reefs within bays hardest hit.

Large amounts of rubble cover, composed of newly formed and existing coral rubble, were recorded.

About 11 percent of coral colonies were overturned.

The reef flats in the villages of Leone, Poloa and Alofau were the most and equally damaged in terms of coral breakage and rubble.

The report suggests that research and rehabilitation programs need to be established and/or enhanced in order to determine the tsunami's long-term impacts and to protect the reefs from future such events.

Recommendations include preventing more damage being done now by removing debris such as clothing and ropes that have attached to living corals, especially in the reef flats.