Research Station Carmabi
Mangroves & Seagrass Beds
In comparison to the fringing reefs bordering the open ocean, inland bays are only partially connected to the open ocean. They are historically characterized by factors that are thought to be detrimental to coral community development such as elevated temperatures, higher salinity, increased nutrient and sedimentation levels, reduced water flow due to low tidal fluctuations and a large reduction in water transparency (Wagenaar Hummelinck 1977, Van Duyl 1985, Djohani and Klok 1988, Debrot et al. 1998, Bak and Meesters 2003).
Consequently the inland bays are expected to be a less suitable environment for coral community development (often notionally referred to as a “marginal habitat”) than the nearby fringing reefs that directly border oceanic water (Van Duyl 1985, Perry and Larcombe 2003, Debrot et al. 1998).
On Curaçao, numerous inland bays are structural components of the present day reef ecosystem that were created when old riverbeds flooded during the Holocene sea level rises (
Inside the inland bays one often finds mangroves and seagrass beds. The area occupied by mangroves is currently 55 hectares which is equivalent to 0.12% of the island’s land surface.
Together with the seagrass beds mangroves function as nursery areas for many Curaçaoan reef fish (see work by Nagelkerken and Cocheret de la Morinière) as well as nesting habitats for a wide variety of local birds.