coral reef tagged posts

Biodiversity, climate change and the fate of coral reefs

An international group of researchers representing thousands of coral scientists across the globe is calling for new commitments and actions by the world’s policymakers to protect and restore coral reefs. In a paper presented July 20 at the International Coral Reef Symposium, the scientists said that the coming decade will likely offer the last chance for policymakers at all levels to prevent coral reefs “from heading towards world-wide collapse.”

The paper, developed by the International Coral Reef Society, pushes for three strategies to save the reefs: addressing climate change, improving local conditions and actively restoring coral.

“The model projections show that up to 30% of coral reefs will persist through this century if we limit global warming to 1...

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Declines in coral colonies throughout the world

We are seeing declines in coral colonies throughout the world, including reefs off Australia, Hawaii, the Florida Keys and in the Indo-Pacific region. The widespread decline is fueled in part by climate-driven heat waves that are warming the world’s oceans and leading to what’s known as coral bleaching, the breakdown of the mutually beneficial relationship between corals and resident algae. But other factors are contributing to the decline of coral reefs as well, including pollution and overfishing.

According to a new study, “Local conditions magnify coral loss after marine heat waves,” published in the journal Science, what’s key to coral reefs surviving climate-driven heat waves and subsequent bleaching is managing global climate change — and local conditions.

“We foun...

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Rebuilding Reefs – With Lego

In a makeshift saltwater nursery located on an offshore Singapore island, a vital scientific experiment is taking place involving corals and sea invertebrates – and Lego bricks.  

“We needed to create flat and stable surfaces for the animals to rest on,” explained Neo Mei Lin, a leading marine biologist and senior research fellow from the National University of Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute. “Detachable Lego bricks proved very useful in helping us to hold corals and giant clams in place.”

This quirky and ingenious approach has benefited Neo and her colleague Jani Tanzil, a fellow marine scientist at the institute...

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Don’t Want to Imagine an Ocean Without Coral Reefs? – You Might Have to

Coral reefs are under threat

Coral reefs across the world may disappear by the 2040s, according to a new report. While it’s tempting to blame ‘humanity’ for this crisis, the truth is that it is the social formation called capitalism that is central to global warming.

With a recent report titled “Projections of Future Coral Bleaching Conditions,” published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in November, Leticia Carvalho—head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch of UNEP—said on December 21 that coral reefs are the “canary in the coalmine for climate’s impact on oceans.” The image of the canary in the coal mine is used over and over again to refer to many aspects of the climate catastrophe: reflecting on his studies of glacier decline in Greenland, glaciologist Ian Howat said that “Gr...

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In high seas, scientists see a lifeline for coral reefs

The vast, underexplored seas covering much of the planet could be the key to saving what remains of a more familiar undersea feature, a new study finds. The “living rock” that thrives in tropical shallows around the world, coral supports a quarter of all marine life. Yet around 20 percent of the world’s coral is already gone, and most of the rest is severely threatened by climate breakdown, overfishing and pollution.

Now, a deep dive into history on the “high seas” — the waters that lie beyond maritime borders — is providing a ray of hope for the world’s reefs: Combing through historical data and more than half a million records on the distribution of corals worldwide, researchers identified more than 116 coral reefs flourishing throughout the high seas.

Conser...

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How coral transplants could rescue Turkey’s threatened reefs

Transplanting coral is difficult work. “You only have 20 minutes to dive down 30 metres and transplant the coral to the correct part of the rock, where hopefully it will live for hundreds of years,” explains Serço Ekşiyan, one of a small group of volunteers who have taken on the huge task of saving the corals around the Princes’ Islands (Adalar), a picturesque archipelago in the Marmara Sea about a 40-minute boat ride from Istanbul.

The Marmara Sea, made up of water from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, is home to 24 Alcyonacea coral species whose existence is threatened by the onslaught of nearby property development. Among those disappearing are sea whips, sea pens, sea fans and some types of red and yellow soft corals.

“Most of these corals you would never find outsid...

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Scientists Race Against Time To Save Coral Off Florida Keys

Scientists reached a major breakthrough recently in their efforts to restore coral off the coast of the Florida Keys. Researchers in South Florida have figured out a way to get coral to spawn more rapidly, which is notable because much of the coral in the Florida Reef Tract is dying. Over the last 40 years, nearly 90% of the live corals that once covered those reefs have died off.

Scientists are using a technique called microfragmentation or reskinning to get coral to reproduce, says Sarah Fangman, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is leading a 15-year, $100 million project to restore the coral.

“The Florida Reef Tract is the only barrier reef system that we have in the United States. The only one,” Fangman says...

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Divers cut, plant coral off UAE coast to build reef

Coral growing after being transplanted

Off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coral freshly removed from a reef is cut into pieces and replanted by a group of divers in the waters below. The divers, from the Fujairah Adventure Centre, are building artificial reefs they hope will spur a resurgence in sea life degraded over the years by climate change and development.

The small team and other volunteers have planted more than 9,000 corals over about 600 square metres in the past year. Within five years, they hope to cover 300,000 square metres with 1.5 million corals.

“It’s a fertile environment for coral reefs, and this diversity has started spreading and has helped bring back sea life,” diver Saeed al-Maamari told Reuters.

Reefs, developing over thousands of years, are crucial to the survival of many ma...

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Scientists are trying to save coral reefs. Here’s what’s working.

The coral reefs around Fiji cover 3,800 square miles and face threats from climate change, overfishing, and pollution.

The world’s coral reefs do more for the planet than provide underwater beauty. They buffer shorelines from the effects of hurricanes. An estimated 500 million people earn their livelihoods from the fishing stocks and tourism opportunities reefs provide. The tiny animals that give rise to reefs are even offering hope for new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.

Despite their importance, warming waters, pollution, ocean acidification, overfishing, and physical destruction are killing coral reefs around the world. Schemes to save those reefs are as creative as they are varied; most recently, scientists released data showing that marine protected areas can help save reefs if they are placed in just the right spots...

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Glowing reefs are striving to recover from bleaching

As oceans warm due to climate change, some coral reefs have been devastated in recent years by bleaching events that cause them to die and damage the biodiversity that depends on them. Multiple studies are underway to understand more about these bleaching events and if corals can bounce back. While bleaching is associated with the stark white skeletal remains of corals after they have lost their live tissue, an opposite effect can also take place when such an event occurs.

It’s known as colorful bleaching, where corals seem to amp up their pigments and provide brilliant displays of neon color.

Colorful bleaching has been observed since 2010 in coral reefs aroundthe globe, but the mechanism and reasoning behind it hasn’t been understood...

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