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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


MENDEZ-VENEGAS, Mauricio; JIMENEZ, Carlos; BASSEY-FALLAS, Giovanni  and  CORTES, Jorge. Condition of the Playa Blanca coral reef, Punta Gorda, one of the most extensive reefs on the Pacific of Costa Rica. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2021, vol.69, suppl.2, pp.194-207. ISSN 0034-7744.


Coral reefs are negatively affected by different anthropogenic and environmental causes in the Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rican Pacific coast.


The health status of the Playa Blanca coral reef was evaluated.


Between August 2010 and September 2011, the percentage of live coral cover (LCC) per species and of the macroalgae Caulerpa sertularoides was determined in four sectors and at three depths of the coral reef; the annual growth of Pocillopora damicornis and P. elegans was measured and related to temperature, nutrients, wind, sun irradiation and rain.


14 species of corals were found, two of them, Fungia curvata and Leptoseris papyracea, only as skeletons. The area with the highest LCC was offshore in the middle zone of Playa Blanca. The species with the highest coverage in all depth ranges was P. damicornis, followed by P. elegans. The LCC decreased from 29% in September 2010 to 1% in October 2010 due to a mass coral mortality caused by harmful algal blooms. The growth rate of P. damicornis (26.0 ± 8.9 mm year-1) and P. elegans (27.9 ± 4.5 mm year-1) did not show significant differences between depths or location in the reef.


The exuberant Playa Blanca coral reef experienced a sudden drop in LCC similar to those described by Glynn et al. (1983). This suggests that cycles of mortality and natural recovery of coral reefs occur, although anthropogenic pressures reduce the resilience capacity of the reefs. Spatial planning, both on land and in the sea, is vital for adequate human development, in which the increase in the resilience of coral ecosystems is incorporated into the analysis.

Keywords : coral reef; Gulf of Papagayo; environmental variables; mass mortality; coral growth.

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