Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 405–428 | Cite as

Assessment of the aquatic biodiversity of a threatened coastal lagoon at Bimini, Bahamas

  • David E. Jennings
  • Joseph D. DiBattista
  • Kristine L. Stump
  • Nigel E. Hussey
  • Bryan R. Franks
  • R. Dean Grubbs
  • Samuel H. Gruber


Coastal biodiversity is threatened worldwide by both direct and indirect anthropogenic activities. To more effectively manage and protect coastal biodiversity, accurate assessments of genetic, species, and ecosystem level diversity are required. We present the results from an assessment of the aquatic species diversity of a small (3 km2), shallow, mangrove-fringed Bahamian lagoon (the North Sound) subject to ongoing anthropogenic development. The assessment was conducted through a collation of field observations and data in published literature. We found that eight angiosperm species, 30 macroalgal species, and 370 animal species (including 95 fishes, 69 arthropods, 56 birds, and 45 mollusks) were documented within the lagoon. At least 11 of these species are of conservation concern, such as the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). Comparisons of community similarity indicated that the North Sound has a relatively distinct fauna and flora, but available data suggest that the species found there are most similar to those found in nearby habitats in Cuba. The lagoon forms a key nursery habitat for many species, including lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus), and queen conch (Strombas gigas). Recently, the lagoon was included as part of a new marine protected area (MPA), but much of the habitat has already experienced considerable anthropogenic disturbance and the MPA boundaries have yet to be established. We have therefore analyzed the lagoon biodiversity and expect the data presented here to serve as a baseline for future comparisons.


Aquatic biodiversity Bahamas Lagoon Mangroves Marine protected area Seagrass 



We thank all of the volunteers and staff at the Bimini Biological Field Station who collected field data presented in this manuscript, and also A. Grant for assisting with historical data collection. We are grateful to C. Higgs and M. Braynen, Directors of the Bahamas Department of Fisheries, for issuing a scientific permit in support of our research. The study was made possible with financial support from the Bimini Biological Field Station, Earthwatch Institute, National Science Foundation (NSF-OCE 97–12793), PADI Project Aware, Florida Department of Education (FLORIDA 8749703000001), L. Hoover, the Hoover Foundation, and T. and T. Fujino for generous personal support. We gratefully acknowledge the following corporate support: M. Aiello, President of Davey Marine; the late D. Schaad of Mercury Division, Brunswick Corporation; W. Bell, President Sundance Boats; Destron-Fearing Corporation, especially S. Casey; P. Ramsay, Bimini Island Air; and Pelican Products. We also thank D. Green and two anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David E. Jennings
    • 1
  • Joseph D. DiBattista
    • 2
  • Kristine L. Stump
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nigel E. Hussey
    • 5
  • Bryan R. Franks
    • 6
  • R. Dean Grubbs
    • 7
  • Samuel H. Gruber
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Hawai’i Institute of Marine BiologyUniversity of Hawai’iKane’oheUSA
  3. 3.Bimini Biological Field StationBiminiBahamas
  4. 4.Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Great Lakes Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  6. 6.Department of BiologyRollins CollegeWinter ParkUSA
  7. 7.Florida State University Coastal and Marine LaboratorySt. TeresaUSA

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