Offshore Fore Reef


The offshore fore reef on the north shore of Moorea a year prior to the start of a large perturbation (an outbreak of crown-of-thorns seastars, which was followed immediately by Cyclone Oli) that killed almost all of the coral on the fore reef around the island. The live coral shown in this photograph covers about half of the bottom. Time series data for several previous disturbance events on Moorea indicate that coral on the fore reef returned to its pre-disturbance levels within about a decade and that macroalgae were not able to overgrow the reef following these sudden losses of coral. MCR investigators found that the increased benthic production following the widespread loss of coral fueled a rapid increase in biomass of herbivorous fishes, primarily parrotfishes, that kept macroalgae in check. Credit: Russell J. Schmitt

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