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Impacts of the 2004 Tsunami on Surin Marine National Park, Thailand

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Abstract:

The impacts of the tsunami in 2004 on the reefs in Surin Marine National Park, Thailand, varied with the location and exposure of the reefs. Channel areas between islands were severely damaged. Areas with steep reef slopes were damaged by sand slides or coral collapse more than areas with low slopes. Massive, sub-massive, and encrusting corals were more resistant and resilient to the direct impact of the tsunami than branching, tabulate, and foliose life forms whereas the latter were more tolerant of temporary coverage by sand. Sub-massive corals were the most tolerant overall and survived sand coverage, breakage, and overturning. Live coral cover measured three months after the tsunami was significantly greater than immediately post-tsunami as broken, moved, or sand-covered corals, recorded as impacted in the initial survey, had survived and were regenerating. Low turbidity, lack of pollution, and mild currents possibly contributed to rapid recovery and limited long-term effects of the tsunami. Impact assessment shortly after a major disturbance may give an initial measure of damage but subsequent surveys must be undertaken to identify long-term effects. Understanding patterns of reef damage can help to formulate reef zoning and protection strategies in response to catastrophic events, but also in advance of such events to improve likely resilience of the marine park to disturbance.

Keywords: Surin Marine National Park; coral reef; environmental impact; management response; tsunami

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08920750601169667

Affiliations: 1: School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, QLD, Australia 2: School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, QLD, Australia

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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