Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 775–789 | Cite as

Sewage pollution in Negril, Jamaica: effects on nutrition and ecology of coral reef macroalgae

  • B. E. LapointeEmail author
  • K. Thacker
  • C. Hanson
  • L. Getten
N:P Ratios, Nutrient Loads and Ecology


Coral reefs in the Negril Marine Park (NMP), Jamaica, have been increasingly impacted by nutrient pollution and macroalgal blooms following decades of intensive development as a major tourist destination. A baseline survey of DIN and SRP concentrations, C:N:P and stable nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) of abundant reef macroalgae on shallow and deep reefs of the NMP in 1998 showed strong P-limitation and evidence of increasing sewage pollution. In 1999, a sewage collection and treatment project began diverting wastewater from the resort and urban areas to a pond system that discharged partially-treated effluent into the South Negril River (SNR). These sewage discharges significantly increased concentrations of NH 4 + and SRP (N:P ∼13) in the SNR, which flows into Long Bay and around Negril’s “West End”. Concentrations of SRP, the primary limiting nutrient, were higher on shallow reefs of the West End in 2001 compared to 1998. Stable nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) of abundant reef macroalgae on both shallow and deep reefs of the West End in 2002 were significantly higher than baseline values in 1998, indicating an escalating impact of sewage nitrogen pollution over this timeframe. The increased nutrient concentrations and δ15N enrichment of reef macroalgae correlated with blooms of the chlorophyte Chaetomorpha linum in shallow waters of Long Bay and Codium isthmocladum and Caulerpa cupressoides on deep reefs of the West End. Sewage treatment systems adjacent to coral reefs must include nutrient removal to ensure that DIN and SRP concentrations, after dilution, are below the low thresholds noted for these oligotrophic ecosystems.


macroalgae sewage carbon nitrogen phosphorus stable nitrogen isotopes eutrophication 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. E. Lapointe
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Thacker
    • 2
  • C. Hanson
    • 2
  • L. Getten
    • 2
  1. 1.Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic UniversityFt. PierceUSA
  2. 2.Negril Coral Reef Preservation SocietyNegril, JamaicaWest Indies

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