Saline levels dropped 10 percent in one day over parts of Flower Garden Banks
The more than 13 trillion gallons of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey have created a massive plume of freshwater in the Gulf of Mexico that is threatening the coral reefs of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary about 100 miles offshore of Galveston.
Harvey produced more than 13 trillion gallons of rain over southeast Texas, and that water is now flowing through the Gulf. The Texas Automated Buoy System, run by the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) at Texas A&M University, is a network of buoys that monitors the waters off the Texas coast and relays real-time ocean data. On Sept. 28, the system measured a 10 percent drop in salinity at Buoy V in the Flower Garden Banks coral reefs. Next week a team of experts from Rice University, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Texas A&M and Boston University will sail from Galveston on a five-day expedition to the reefs. They will work in collaboration with staff scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to collect samples of water, microbes, sediment, corals and sponges to monitor the health of the reefs.
“The salinity at one buoy on the reef dropped from 36 to 32 on Sept. 28, but it rebounded to 36 by Oct. 4, and it has been between 35 and 36 since then,” said Rice marine biologist Adrienne Correa, one of the expedition scientists. “We don’t yet know what impact the low salinity had on the reef while it was there.”
Continue reading at Rice University
Image via Jesse Cancelmo