Transport processes linking shelf and back reef ecosystems in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas
Shallow-water transport processes are reviewed to describe the physical linking of inner shelf and back reef environments. Data from Exuma Sound and Great Bahama Bank near Lee Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas provide examples of tidal and wind-driven transport. Along-shelf currents on the seaward side of Lee Stocking Island are predominantly northwestward, and speeds are usually <25 cm s–1. Amplitudes of tidal currents are 2 cm s–1 or less. Across-shelf currents are generally between ± 5 cm s–1 and amplitudes of across-shelf tidal currents are less than 1 cm s–1. Near-surface flow is deflected landward, and a weak downwelling pattern holds surface-layer water close to the coast. Water passing Adderley Cut on the flood tide is carried onto Great Bahama Bank. Maximum flood current speeds in the channel reach 60–70 cm s–1. In back reef areas, maximum tidal current speeds are 20–40 cm s–1, but the tide-induced residual speed is <1 cm s–1. Wind-drift currents at three back reef sites are 3–4 cm s–1. Plots of salinity recorded in tidal channels show "spikes" that represent high-salinity bank water leaving during the ebb. Hyperpycnal ebb tide plumes increase the effi ciency of tidal exchanges and enhance the linkage of shelf and back reef ecosystems.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2004
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