coral reefs tagged posts

Can Red Sea coral show us how to save the world’s reefs?

Feathery orange moss, bouquets of tightly bound lime green and mustard yellow buds, gently swaying blood red branches, and huge pebbles adding a shock of blue and purple – to the uninitiated, this dazzling display might resemble an underwater garden, albeit an improbably colourful one.

And in a way it is. Except when you get up close, really close, and you see the thousands of tiny creatures, often no bigger than half an inch wide, packed tightly together in colonies to create this ethereal Red Sea landscape. We are of course talking about coral polyps, the soft-bodied organisms that together can form reefs the size of islands.

They only cover a tiny area of the earth – less than one per cent – but they are the vital building blocks of a healthy marine ecosystem...

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Half of Earth’s coral reefs have been lost since 1950

Great Barrier Reef

Coral reefs provide an irreplaceable ecosystem for marine life, protect coastlines and sustain livelihoods of communities around the globe — so you can understand why scientists are concerned about the worldwide phenomenon of coral reef erosion. A new study indicates the pace of reef destruction is faster than previously thought.

Half of the Earth’s coral reefs have died out in the last 70 years, according to a study published in the One Earth journal. Researchers note that fishes caught per capita (or rather, per “unit of effort”) have declined 60% since 1950 and that coral reefs are half as able to provide ecological services as they were in the 1950s. The result is less biodiversity in the world’s reefs.

“Coral reefs worldwide are facing impacts from climate change, overfishing,...

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Reforestation could help save coral reefs from catastrophe

Increasing reforestation efforts in coastal regions could substantially reduce the amount of sediment run-off reaching coral reefs and improve their resilience, a University of Queensland-led study has found. The study analysed more than 5,500 coastal areas from around the world and found that nearly 85 per cent of them leached sediment to coral reefs, the second most serious threat facing the world’s reefs behind climate change. Dr Andrés Suárez-Castro from UQ’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science said it was important to address the issue of sediment runoff if efforts to reduce the human impact on reefs were to be successful.

“Increased sedimentation can cause aquatic ecosystems to be more sensitive to heat stress, which decreases the resilience of corals to pressures ...

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Scientists Create the First Complete Map of the World’s Coral Reefs

Ailinginae Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (photo by Greg Asner; courtesy of Allen Coral Atlas)

Coral reefs are sometimes referred to as “the rainforests of the seas” — they are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Although they cover just one percent of the ocean floor, these mesmerizing, scaly habitats support an estimated 25 percent of all marine life. They are also highly endangered: the climate crisis, coastal development, ocean acidification, and destructive overfishing are a few of the many factors contributing to their alarming decline. By some estimates, nearly all remaining reefs will be at risk by 2050.

Scientists have now completed the first comprehensive, continually-updated map of the world’s shallow coral reefs, a critical tool for their preservation. Using 2...

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Groundwater Runoff Changing Metabolism of Coral Reef Ecosystems

Maunalua Bay in Hawaii, where CSUN marine biologist Nyssa Silbiger and her colleagues found that submarine groundwater discharge is changing the metabolism of coral reefs ecosystems. Photo by Doug Harper.

Submarine groundwater discharge — the flow of fresh water from land through the coastal seafloor into the ocean — is changing the metabolism of coral reef ecosystems, according to California State University, Northridge marine biologist Nyssa Silbiger, which can affect coastal economies around the world.

The findings by Silbiger and her fellow researchers, Megan Donahue with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and Katie Lubarsky with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, have implications for understanding human impacts on marine ecosystems, as well as informing the decisions of policy makers as they consider coastal development or anticipate the impacts of sea-level rise.

“If we can understand how actions and decisions made miles away from the ocean affect marine ecosyste...

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Is Key Gene System Discovery Suffocating Corals’ Last Gasp?

A unique stress experiment aligned deoxygenation stress to the natural night-day cycle of common reef-building corals from The Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Morgan Bennett-Smith

Ocean deoxygenation is now being recognized as major threat to future global coral reef survival.

Oxygen is life, in or out of the water, raising concerns that declining ocean oxygen stores are adding an additional environmental stress to already highly vulnerable coral reef ecosystems. While the twin effects of ocean warming and acidification are well studied, until now there has been limited understanding of how the growing threat of ocean deoxygenation may impact the ability of corals to function and ultimately form reefs.

A unique deoxygenation-reoxygenation stress experiment has given researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of Konstanz and University of Copenhagen insight into how corals manage deoxygenation stress and the key genes that likely dr...

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12 things you can do to help save coral reefs

Coral reefs are under threat

Coral around the world has been dying at unprecedented rates, largely the result of warming ocean waters due to climate change. Now, the International Coral Reef Society’s scientists have published what they call the “Pledge for Coral Reefs,” a list of 12 actions everyone can take to help protect coral and coral reefs.

“This is an educational tool to remind people that, ‘Wow, when I purchase products with single-use plastic, that affects coral reefs. When I don’t eat sustainably, that affects coral reefs. If I don’t vote, that affects coral reefs. So many environmental and climate change related issues impact coral reefs,” said Andréa Grottoli, professor of earth sciences at The Ohio State University and president of the International Coral Reef Society.

“Each of th...

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Dying coral reefs are being saved by automation

Coral bleaching occurs when water is too warm, causing corals to expel the algae living in their tissues and turn completely white -- often killing the cora

On a 24-hour boat trip off the coast of Western Australia, Dr. Taryn Foster was seeking out a coral reef treasure known as Scott Reef. It was a familiar place for her, as the research associate at the California Academy of Sciences had gone on dives and conducted coral surveys there as part of her postdoctoral work studying coral.

“There’s no tourists out there,” Foster said. “It’s as untouched as you can get these days.”

But Foster found the condition of Scott Reef had changed wildly from years past. She was about to dive into the coral reefs during the worlds’ 2016 mass bleaching event — one of the longest and most severe coral bleaching events on record.

“In a way, it’s actually quite beautiful...

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British family moving to Africa’s smallest island to save its coral reefs

A British family is leaving their comfortable life in London in order to pursue something more. The Seath family, including Karolina, Barry and their two children, are about to move to an island you probably never heard of in a bid to help replenish and revitalize the area’s coral reef, which have been ravaged by the rising sea temperatures off the coast of Africa’s smallest island.

The island in the Seychelles, measuring just 400 metres long by 300 metres wide, will play host to the family’s land-based coral farm, which will only be the second of its kind in the entire world — the other being on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“We are just a normal husband, wife, and two kids, living the sort of life that most others do… but we felt the need to make a positive change for oursel...

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Protect Red Sea’s Coral Reefs, Scientists Urge

Red Sea Coral Reef with abundant fish

UNESCO should declare the Red Sea’s 4000km of coral reef a Marine World Heritage Site and take additional measures critical for the reef’s survival, urges an international group of researchers led by Karine Kleinhaus, MD, of Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS).

Their article, “Science, Diplomacy, and the Red Sea’s Unique Coral Reef: It’s Time for Action,” appears in Frontiers in Marine Science. Kleinhaus and co-authors argue that while rapid ocean warming due to climate change is predicted to decimate 70 to 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs by mid-century, the coral reef ecosystem in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba is strikingly resilient to rising sea temperatures.

Corals in the Gulf of Aqaba, at the northernmost portion of the Red Sea, wi...

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