Tag Archives: coral reefs

Egypt must go green to save Red Sea

17 Oct

The Red Sea’s ecosystem is under threat from pollution and Egyptians refusing to accept there is an environmental problem

Coral reefs in the Red Sea north of Jeddah Coral reefs in the Red Sea are under threat from oil spills and plastic waste. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

The Red Sea is facing a crisis that could see much of its wonderful marine life cease to exist. Continued polluting of the water, constant oil spillage from offshore rigs and a lack of awareness in Egypt and around the region about the importance of maintaining vital ecosystems all contribute to the threat.

A few travellers passing through Cairo earlier this month sent me an email describing their disappointment at the diving they experienced off Egypt’s top resort, Sharm el-Sheikh. What they saw was “completely a different scene” from their first visit in 2004. “The coral was turning grey and dying,” they said.

Over and over I have heard stories from divers about the decaying state of the Red Sea’s coral reefs. It is unfortunate, but true. No longer is the Red Sea a pristine location to witness the spectacle of marine life and coral reefs. One of the main causes is the constant pouring of waste from hotels along the coastal areas, but the tourism industry more generally has done further harm by pumping chemicals and other waste products into the sea. Resolving these problems is proving extremely difficult.

Not only are coral reefs under threat, but other marine life, too. Offshore oil rigs have been in the Red Sea waters for decades, but little has been done to ensure the equipment is up to date. These rigs stream a constant pool of oil into the sea. Ahmed el-Droubi of the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Agency (Hepca) told me earlier this year that much of the dolphin population has migrated further and further south as a result.

read whole article at the Guardian.co.uk

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Call to Heal the World’s Coral Reefs

14 Oct

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2010) — There is still time to save the world’s ailing coral reefs, if prompt and decisive action can be taken to improve their overall health, leading marine researchers say

Writing in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, eminent marine scientists from Australia and the USA have called for an international effort to improve the resilience of coral reefs, so they can withstand the impacts of climate change and other human activities.

“The world’s coral reefs are important economic, social and environmental assets, and they are in deep trouble. How much trouble, and why, are critical research questions that have obvious implications for formulating policy and improving the governance and management of these tropical maritime resources,” explains Jeremy Jackson from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The key to saving the reefs lies in understanding why some reefs degenerate into a mass of weeds and never recover — an event known as a ‘phase shift’ — while on other reefs the corals manage to bounce back successfully, showing a quality known as resilience.

This underlines the importance of managing reefs in ways that promote their resilience, the researchers say.

They presented evidence that coral decline due to human activity has been going on for centuries, but has been particularly alarming in the past 50 years. In all some 125,000 square kilometres of the world’s corals have disappeared so far.

The most recent global report card (2008) estimated that 19% of all reefs were effectively lost, another 15% were critical and likely to be lost in 10-20 years, and a further 20% are under threat from local human pressures (already experiencing 20-50% loss of corals). The remaining 46% of reefs were at low risk from direct human impacts, but were nevertheless vulnerable to climate change and ocean acidification.

read whole article at Science Daily

Extreme Heat Bleaches Coral, and Threat Is Seen

21 Sep

article by the NYtimes

This year’s extreme heat is putting the world’s coral reefs under such severe stress that scientists fear widespread die-offs, endangering not only the richest ecosystems in the ocean but also fisheries that feed millions of people.

From Thailand to Texas, corals are reacting to the heat stress by bleaching, or shedding their color and going into survival mode. Many have already died, and more are expected to do so in coming months. Computer forecasts of water temperature suggest that corals in the Caribbean may undergo drastic bleaching in the next few weeks.

What is unfolding this year is only the second known global bleaching of coral reefs. Scientists are holding out hope that this year will not be as bad, over all, as 1998, the hottest year in the historical record, when an estimated 16 percent of the world’s shallow-water reefs died. But in some places, including Thailand, the situation is looking worse than in 1998.

Scientists say the trouble with the reefs is linked to climate change. For years they have warned that corals, highly sensitive to excess heat, would serve as an early indicator of the ecological distress on the planet caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases.

“I am significantly depressed by the whole situation,” said Clive Wilkinson, director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, an organization in Australia that is tracking this year’s disaster.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first eight months of 2010 matched 1998 as the hottest January to August period on record. High ocean temperatures are taxing the organisms most sensitive to them, the shallow-water corals that create some of the world’s most vibrant and colorful seascapes.

read whole article @ NYtimes

Billionaire saves marine reserve plans

13 Sep

If more rich folk would spend there money on enviromental projects like this maybe we still can save our oceans. We urgently need more protected ocean/marine reserves all over the world where marine life can live safe and have a save home to breed.

article: Independent.co.uk

Ernesto Bertarelli A Swiss billionaire has stepped in to save plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve from public spending cuts, it emerged today.

Ministers are in talks over a £3.5 million deal for America’s Cup-winning yachtsman Ernesto Bertarelli to fund the policing of the zone around the British-owned Chagos Islands.

The Marine Protected Area (MPA) will cover some quarter of a million square miles of sea around the archipelago in the Indian Ocean and include a “no-take” reserve banning commercial fishing.

It was approved by then foreign secretary David Miliband in April amid complaints that the Government failed to take account of the needs of the territory’s exiled inhabitants.

The Chagos have been the subject of a long-running controversy as the islanders exiled to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase continue a legal fight for the right to return home.

Fears had been raised however that the project could be scrapped without private funding to offset the £750,000 a year set to be lost in fees for lucrative tuna fishing licences.

But campaign group the Blue Marine Foundation said it had secured the backing of the Bertarelli Foundation to provide the necessary financial backing – with ministers agreeing the deal in principle last week and detailed contracts now being drawn up.

read whole article @ independent.co.uk

Dive into coral reefs

10 Sep

From Nature.org

Marine Scientist Rod Salm talks about the state of our coral reefs, how and why our coral reefs are dying and how we can reverse this process.

Healthy Coral, Sick Coral: See Photos Conservancy marine scientist Rod Salm narrates a slide show about coral reefs — why they matter, what’s killing them and how we’re helping preserve them.

watch slideshow presentation here!