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‘Complete collapse’ of coral possible

March 26, 2010

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Coral reefs are dying, and scientists and governments around the world are contemplating what will happen if they disappear altogether.

The idea positively scares them.

Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide — by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone — depend on them for their food and their livelihoods.

If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue.

“Whole nations will be threatened in terms of their existence,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for extinction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom-dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral.

At least 19 percent of the world’s coral reefs are already gone, including some 50 percent of those in the Caribbean. An additional 15 percent could be dead within 20 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Another Article on the subject.

Coral reef on Lord Howe bleached by summer

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THE world’s southernmost coral reef is on a knife edge, according to scientists who say this summer’s above-average water temperatures have left Lord Howe Island’s unique reef stressed and bleached.

In parts of the reef, especially areas around the island’s lagoon, up to 95 per cent of corals have been bleached since January.

”This is a significant bleaching event,” said Peter Harrison, director of marine studies at Southern Cross University, who has been monitoring the reef since 1993.

Professor Harrison said the situation, caused by warmer-than-usual waters carried south by the currents from the Great Barrier Reef, had been compounded by a period of light winds and little cloud cover.

”That means both increased temperature and increased light penetration into the water, which stressed the symbiotic algae which lives in the corals,” he said.

It is the first major bleaching of the reef, which is considered globally significant because of its unique combination of tropical, subtropical and temperate species.

Professor Harrison said the bleaching was significant for another reason. This, he said, was evidence that subtropical areas were not immune to the impact of climate change.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 3:14 pm

    The coral reefs are beautiful.
    and need protecting

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