Southern Caribbean Sea

About the Area

The southern Caribbean Sea is home to extensive seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and coral reefs that provide breeding habitat for many species of fish and shellfish.
The Gulf of Paria between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago is particularly rich and provides a basis for major marine fisheries.

Local Species
In the south Caribbean Sea live Manatees turtles (Trichechea spp.), regionally endangered Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), and Kemp's ridley sea turtles (L. kempii). Marine fish species include Bocon toadfish (Amphichthys cryptocentrus), and Hogfish (Cachnolaimus maximus). A newly discovered species from the drum and croaker family, Stellifer chaoi, also calls these waters home.

Threats
Chemical pollution produced by industry and agriculture, slash and burn forest clearing, silt from dredge and fill operations, overfishing, and poor land management pose threats to these ecosystems, as do untreated wastes from coastal cities, towns, and tourist centers (10% of wastes are currently treated).

This has resulted in eutrophication and anoxia in nearshore waters, sedimentation, fish kills, and decline of reefs and seagrass beds. Chronic oil pollution from oil drilling in Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados has wiped out mangrove swamps, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs.

Mercury pollution is a threat, especially in Venezuela's Puerto Moron. In terms of tourism, this region is second only to the Mediterranean and coupled with over population and rapid growth in coastal cities, tourism has led to degradation of coastal habitats. Impacts on species includes the death of sea turtles and marine mammals from ingestion of floating tar, as well as loss of nesting sites for turtles and hunting for meat and shells, and drownings in fishing nets (e.g., shrimp trawls).

Resources

Size:
N/A

Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location: Southern Caribbean Sea

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

Quiz Time!

What is so peculiar about the eating habits of Parrotfish?

Answer:
Parrotfish eat coral and grind it in their guts. The chalky residue secreted is a source of sand in the tropics!

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