Unique in all the Mesoamerican Reef, Tela's Coral Reef System is today one of the last vestiges of how reefs in the Caribbean used to look like before the sharp decline of our coral reefs due to global warming, river run offs, over population of our shore lines, excessive commercial fishing practices and many others.
With an insane coral coverage of 70% per m² Tela's Coral Reef System is simply called by many marine biologists a "Misbehaving Reef". This unique story of resilience and survival could be the key to understanding how and why we have lost over 50% of the Mesoamerican Reef in the last 30 years, but most importantly it may lead to answers that could help us save or even recover our Mesoamerican Reef.
The Diadema antillarum mass mortality event in 1983, was not only the largest mass mortality event ever recorded in history, but was very probably the single most stressful factor to have ever affected our Mesoamerican Reef. This event has been compared to infecting the entire human race with the HIV virus. The lack of Diadema compares to the lack of white blood cells that protect our body from our relentless battle against viruses. In the case of coral, their relentless battle against algae.
Over 30 years later the Mesoamerican Reef has not yet recovered. Averaging one (1) Diadema for every 100m² of reef, and steadily losing ground to fast growing algae that now covers over 70% of our Reef. A far cry from what a healthy reef used to look like averaging 2.5 Diadema for every 1m². For reasons unknown till this day Tela´s Coral Reef System still averages this pre-mortality rate of Diadema, and can proudly boast an extremely low 2% algal coverage.
This magnificent coral used to be a common site in the Caribbean. Its complex structure and fast growth made it the most important reef builder and habitat provider of the Mesoamerican Reef. Unfortunately it is estimated that 90-95% of all Elk Horn Coral in the Caribbean has been lost to pollution driven diseases since 1980. Incredibly Tela has two of the largest conglomerations of healthy colonies in the Mesoamerican Reef.
Recent surveys estimate over 1,200 healthy colonies in the Bay Area. Sexual reproduction through broadcast spawning was successfully recorded on August 2014. Billions of Elk Horn coral gametes are released every year from the Bay of Tela, making it one of the last significant sources of genetic material to be broadcasted in this magnitude into the waters of the Caribbean Sea.