The tradewinds blowing across the tropical Atlantic bring millions of tons of dust from the Sahara and Sahel regions of Africa to the Caribbean every year. This atmospheric transportation has occurred for millenia, but scientists suspect that the quality and quantity of that dust may be changing and may affect humans and ecosystems where the dust is deposited.
Research has found that the dust that reaches the Caribbean contains viable bacteria and fungi, nutrients, and persistant organic pollutants. Scientists now study the connections between atmospheric deposition and the health of coral reefs.
Links and Sources
Coral Mortality and African Dust summarizes the US Geological Survey studies on the connections between coral mortality and African dust. View photos, satellite images, video documentary and reports.
When the Dust Settles summarizes NASA studies on African Dust and coral disease. Contains satellite images, links, and photos. Includes comparative photos from St. John on clear and dusty days.
Did You Know?
One of the smallest lizards on St. John is the Dwarf Gecko. This tiny, inch-long reptile is native to the island, while many of the other geckos arrived on sailing ships in the 17th century. Dwarf Geckos feed on insects in the forest during the day, while most other geckos are nocturnal feeders.