Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Benthic communities are normally both physically and biologically regulated: However, if an interaction of the physical environment becomes significant, then the community becomes predominantly physically regulated. The arrival of "Hurricane Agnes", presumably causing a considerable reduction in salinity in nearby estuaries, would appear to create a significant physical stress on a benthic community. According to the "theory of environmental stability" (Sanders 1968) , the less stable the environmental parameters - such as salinity, oxygen., and temperature - the fewer species present. Thus, one might expect a decrease in benthic community diversity, due to the occurrence of such a natural disaster as Hurricane Agnes. Agnes was a tropical storm which formed off the Yucatan Peninsula. Originally, the storm was predicted to remain in the Florida Panhandle area and soon die there. However, it moved across the South toward the Atlantic Ocean. When approaching the Virginia Capes, Agnes met with a low pressure area at approximately 18,000 feet and altered its course inwardly. The full force of the storm with its heavy rains then hit the Richmond area on June 21, 1972. By morning of June 22, the James River Valley had received billions of gallons of flood water., and in the Richmond area soon crested to a record height of 36.5 feet. (Facts on Agnes taken from Boone, 1972).


Benthos -- Effect of hurricanes on -- Virginia -- Hampton Roads (Harbor), Hurricanes -- Environmental aspects -- Virginia -- Hampton Roads (Harbor), Hurricane Agnes, 1972