(Peer-Reviewed) Substrate damage and recovery after giant clam shell mining at remote coral reefs in the southern South China Sea
Shengnan Zhou 周胜男 ¹ ² ⁴, Qi Shi 施祺 ¹ ², Hongqiang Yang 杨红强 ¹ ² ³, Xiyang Zhang 张喜洋 ¹ ², Xiaoju Liu 刘小菊 ¹ ² ⁴, Fei Tan 谭飞 ¹ ² ⁴, Pin Yan 阎贫 ¹ ²
¹ Key Laboratory of Ocean and Marginal Sea Geology, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, CAS, Guangzhou, 510301, China
中国 广州 中国科学院南海海洋研究所 边缘海与大洋地质重点实验室
² Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), Guangzhou, 511458, China
中国 广州 南方海洋科学与工程广东省实验室(广州)
³ Nansha Marine Ecological and Environmental Research Station, CAS, Sansha, Hainan, 573199, China
中国 海南 三沙 中国科学院南沙海洋生态环境实验站
⁴ University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China

Giant clam shell mining (GCSM), a unique phenomenon occurring at remote coral reefs in the southern South China Sea (SCS), forms striking scars on the reef flats and damages the reef flat substrate. Through image analyses at three times (2004.02.02, 2014.02.26, and 2019.04.10) and in situ surveys at Ximen Reef, a representative site that has experienced GCSM, we quantified the GCSM-generated substrate damage and the corresponding recovery.

GCSM was estimated to have occurred sometime between 2012 and 2014, causing reduction in live coral subarea and formation of micro-relief as trenches and mounds. GCSM-generated damage was restricted to the reef flat. After GCSM, coral and algae subarea increased, and the trenches and mounds tended to be filled and eroded, representing a natural recovery of the substrate. The legal prohibition on human disturbances at the coral reefs contributed to substrate recovery at Ximen Reef. This case also implied that recovery of the other coral reefs that suffered from GCSM is possible.
Substrate damage and recovery after giant clam shell mining at remote coral reefs in the southern South China Sea_1
Substrate damage and recovery after giant clam shell mining at remote coral reefs in the southern South China Sea_2
Substrate damage and recovery after giant clam shell mining at remote coral reefs in the southern South China Sea_3
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