The coral reef which surrounds two thirds of Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group, consists of a reef flat, reef margin and fore-reef which slopes gradually into deeper water. The range of sublittoral habitats provided by this topography is limited, reflecting a low level of coral diversity. Spur and groove formations of the fore-reef are present around the northern end of the island which contrasts with the south-western corner, where, in the absence of a fringing reef platform, subaerial cliff faces are fronted by a cliff foot submarine `trench'. In general, live coral cover on the fore-reef was estimated at between 10–30%, though at sites off the east coast it reached 80%. The associated communities, particularly of sessile filter-feeding groups, were found to be impoverished. The two factors of biogeographical isolation and of local bioerosion processes are proposed as being the main reasons for the depauperate nature of the island's reef. Brief notes are included on the lagoon and fore-reef bathymetry and habitats of Ducie and Oeno Atolls for comparative purposes.
Overall benthic (groups)
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)