Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 555–563 | Cite as

To preserve or to develop? East Bay dredging project, South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands

  • Chris Zuidema
  • Richard Plate
  • Angela Dikou


The Turks and Caicos Islands are currently in the midst of an economic revolution from a marine-based provisional economy to a tourism economy. East Bay, South Caicos, is currently under construction with plans for a 160-unit condominium complex. Included in the project plan is removal of seagrass beds in front of the development to make a sandy beach for tourists. The aims of this study were to (i) describe the bathymetry and benthic habitat coverage of East Bay before dredging takes place and (ii) perform an economic valuation on the turtle grass beds that will be dredged using ecosystem valuation and emergy analysis techniques. The bathymetry survey revealed shallow waters (<1.5 m) until the reef drop off (∼650 m offshore). Benthic habitat exhibits zonation following the general progression: sand plain, algal plain, seagrass, coral rubble and seagrass, rock and turf algae, and reef flat. Ecosystem services valued the proposed dredging area at USD $28,807 per year, compared to emergy analysis, which valued the proposed dredging site at USD $32,060 per year. The baselines presented in the study may facilitate a quantitative assessment of dredging impacts on turtle grass once dredging is complete and an economical cost-benefit-analysis of the dredging project to see whether the economic gains outweigh the ecological costs of dredging in front of the East Bay development.


Bathymetry Benthic habitat Economic valuation Ecosystem services Emergy Turks and Caicos Islands 



We thank The School for Field Studies for educational, financial, and logistical support throughout the duration of this study and Amy Fleischer for her contribution during field work. Figure 1 was originally drawn and generously offered by Dr. J. Claydon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The School for Field Studies, Center for Marine Resource StudiesSouth CaicosBritish West Indies

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