Hotsarihie also known as “Helen Reef” located in Hatahobei, 350 miles southwest of Palau was heavily impacted by a bleaching event in 1998. In the 2000 a survey was done with the objective to establish a baseline of the fish abundance and coral cover after the bleaching event. In 2007, fish and coral cover were assessed to determine if recovery has occurred since 2000. From the 2018 survey efforts results indicated that the Hotsarihie MPA took about 10 years to fully recover from the 1998 bleaching event.
In May 2018, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researchers traveled to Hotsarihie(Helen Reef) Marine Protected Area in Hatohobei State to conduct an assessment of the protected area as part of the Protected Areas Network (PAN) MPA Assessments done in 2017 – 2018. Two previous assessments had been conducted at Hotsarihie MPA in 2000 and 2007.
Studies show that more corals had grown since 2000 and has been the same since the 2007 survey which showed that the coral cover has recovered since the bleaching event in 1998 and continues to grow. Another interesting finding was fish abundance and biomass in a stable state. A published study showed that the expected fish biomass in a 40 year old protected area or a ‘pristine reef’ is 1,000 kg per hectare. Hotsarihie has been protected since 2001, making it 19 years old MPA, and the fish biomass is 730 kg per hectare. This shows that Hotsarihie is on track to achieving its pristine biomass, given that no major disturbance, such as typhoons or bleaching event, disrupts this progress. This is good news for Hotsarihie, but continued protection and monitoring is essential to reach this goal.