Archive for the 'Reef Science' Category

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UN urges coral reef action

A new United Nations report urges a global partnership, backed by commitment and resources, to tackle the threats posed to coral reefs by climate change, including damage from increasingly severe tropical cyclones and ocean acidification.

Read about the report in Web Newswire

Read the full report

Review of coral-bacterial relationship

A review article discussing the importance of associations between microorganisms and their invertebrate coral hosts has recently been published. The study of coral–bacteria interactions is an emerging field, driven by the necessity to understand the microbial relationships that both maximize coral health and cause coral disease.

Mouchka, M. E., Hewson, I., & Harvell, C. D., 2010. Coral-associated bacterial assemblages: Current knowledge and the potential for climate-driven impacts. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50(4): 662-674.

Read the abstract (subscription required to see full article).

Algal blooms decimate reefs

The large scale bloom that occured in the Gulf of Oman in Oct / Nov 2008 has now been shown to have caused widescale damage to corals in the area. Harmful algal blooms, often linked to human pollution and agricultural run-off, are predicted to rise significantly in coming years and pose a serious threat to fragile coral ecosystems. A recent report in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, entitled: “Tropical harmful algal blooms: An emerging threat to coral reef communities?” discusses details.
Read the original report (requires subscription to journal).

Scuba fees save reefs

A recent report by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington discuss how scuba divers, diving in marine protected areas (MPAs) can contribute to the costs of maintaining the MPAs. The report is entitled: “The role of SCUBA diver user fees as a source of sustainable funding for coral reef marine Protected areas.”

This report highlights the fact that in most most cases, no contribution is made by divers towards the maintenance of the areas in which they dive. This is despite a willingness on the part of divers to help. Additionally, dive tourism can generate employment & significant income within local communities. They discuss in details amounts that could be charged as well as going into cost / benefit analysis.

So are we all missing a trick?

Read the full report.

Sponge wars

It’s seaweed vs. sponge in battle for dying coral reefs.

The spread of a large sponge species could provide a buffer to the dramatic decline of corals on reefs in the Florida Keys and Caribbean, scientists say.

“There’s a turf war going on under the warm waters off the Florida Keys, a battle for no less than dominance of dying coral reef tracts.”

Read the Full Article in the Miami Herald.

10 new coral species

Scientists returning from a 30-day research expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands found what they believe are 10 new species of coral.

Read the Full Article by The Associated Press.

Coral vanishing faster than rainforest

Coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans are dying off much quicker than previously thought, a new study shows. For the last two decades, Indo-Pacific reefs have shrunk by 1 percent each year—a loss equivalent to nearly 600 square miles (1,553 square kilometers). That makes the rate of reef loss about twice the rate of tropical rain forest loss. The research also revealed that the decline began in the late 1960s—much earlier than had been assumed.

Read the Full Article in National Geographic

Sponge in DNA spotlight

The first draft of the sponge genome has been published. Sponges are believed to be the earliest multicellular organism (over 650 million years old). DNA sequencing of a sponge, Amphimedon queenslandica, found on the Great Barrier Reef revealed surprising genetic diversity and may offer insights into cancer biology as well as an understanding of the origins of multicellular life.

Read the Full Article in Nature.

Coral reefs doomed?

The world’s coral reefs are in great danger from dual threats of rising temperatures and ocean acidification, Charlie Veron, Former Chief Scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, told scientists attending the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation meeting in Sanur, Bali.

Read Full Article at Mongabay.com – 22 July 2010

Corals struggling

Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef

Reef-building corals are under increasing physiological stress from a changing climate and ocean absorption of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We investigated 328 colonies of massive Porites corals from 69 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Australia. Their skeletal records show that throughout the GBR, calcification has declined by 14.2% since 1990, predominantly because extension (linear growth) has declined by 13.3%. The data suggest that such a severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least the past 400 years. Calcification increases linearly with increasing large-scale sea surface temperature but responds nonlinearly to annual temperature anomalies. The causes of the decline remain unknown; however, this study suggests that increasing temperature stress and a declining saturation state of seawater aragonite may be diminishing the ability of GBR corals to deposit calcium carbonate.

Glenn De’ath, Janice M. Lough, Katharina E. Fabricius

Science 2 January 2009, Vol. 323. no. 5910, pp. 116 – 119