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Variable hydrology and salinity of salt ponds in the British Virgin Islands

Author(s): Jarecki Lianna | Walkey Mike

Journal: Saline Systems
ISSN 1746-1448

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Abstract Caribbean salt ponds are unique wetlands that have received little scientific attention. They are common features of dry Caribbean coastlines, but they are threatened by rapid coastal development. We compared hydrology and salinity of 17 salt ponds in the British Virgin Islands. Ponds were mostly hypersaline (>50 ppt), and they exhibited dramatic salinity fluctuations in response to rainfall and evaporation. Individual ponds varied in their mean salinities and thus experienced different ranges of salinity. Differences in mean salinity appeared to be linked with hydrological characteristics. Hydrological variation ranged from permanently inundated ponds with direct sea connection to those fully isolated from the sea and retaining water only after rainfall. We characterized groups of ponds by their major hydrological characteristics, particularly their period of inundation and their degree of connection with the sea. The resulting classification appeared to reflect a continuum of increasing isolation from the sea, concurring with published geological records from salt pond sediments elsewhere. The patterns of variability and succession described here are applicable to salt pond management interests throughout the Caribbean.
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