Little is known about effects of large storm systems on mesophotic reefs. This study reports on how Typhoon 17 (Jelawat) affected Ryugu Reef on Okinawa-jima, Japan in September 2012. Benthic communities were surveyed before and after the typhoon using line intercept transect method. Comparison of the benthic assemblages showed highly significant differences in coral coverage at depths of 25–32 m before and after Typhoon 17. A large deep stand of Pachyseris foliosa was apparently less resistant to the storm than the shallower high diversity area of this reef. Contradictory to common perception, this research shows that large foliose corals at deeper depths are just as susceptible to typhoon damage as shallower branching corals. However, descriptive functional group analyses resulted in only minor changes after the disturbance, suggesting the high likelihood of recovery and the high resilience capacity of this mesophotic reef.
Japan - Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa)
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)