75% of the world’s coral reefs are threatened, according to a study coordinated by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) study, which involved more than 25 environmental organizations and hundreds of international scientists. The report states that if measures are not taken, by 2030 the percentage will be over 90% and almost 100% in 2050. The corals of Haiti, Granada, Philippines, Comoros, Vanuatu, Tanzania, Kiribiati, Fiji and Indonesia sufferers more vulnerable and degraded the study situation.
Corals, seriously threatened, could be used to fight cancer or AIDS
Some paradigmatic coral areas suffer significant degradation. The Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site since 1981 and extending over 2,600 kilometers on the northeast coast of Australia, has lost 50% of their coral over the last 30 years. Caribbean reefs in the percentage rises to 80%, according to a report published last year.
The threats to corals are very diverse. Climate change is assuming the rise in water temperature. A few degrees are lethal to corals, very sensitive to temperature changes. When water exceeding 30 ° C undergo a process and returning them more prone to white diseases.
Acidification of the oceans is another serious problem, related to the above. The waters are becoming more acidic instead by increased carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main greenhouse gases implicated in global warming. Overfishing and pollution of the oceans also deteriorate the condition of corals.
In certain parts of the world corals face particular threats. The conservation organization WWF has launched a campaign to stop the development of large projects in the Australian coast, as megaports a “highway” marina for large cargo traffic, or dredging and dumping of millions of tons of earth and rocks, which They are destroying the Great Barrier Reef. In India, China and the United States the dumping of fertilizers from the fields to the ocean is one of the most serious problems: the algae grow and smother corals. In Southeast Asia, it aims to dynamite fishing and poor management of wastewater.
The Indo-Pacific coral, representing 75% of corals around the world and the largest biodiversity in the world, is disappearing at a rate double that of the rainforest.
John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have performed a statistical study based on 6000 2600 who have been monitoring coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans from 1968-2004.
To measure the state of health of these reefs used as reference surface covered by coral. The live coral rock without cover that makes it grow is quickly eroded by marine agents.
Between 1968 and 2004 the decline of coral was 1% a year compared with an annual 0.4% of the rainforest from 1990 to 1997 (Science, vol 297 p 999). In the early eighties 40% of reefs were covered with live coral but in 2003 was only 20%. Today only 2% of the reefs in that area have the same amount of live coral in the eighties. His conclusion is that, on average, have been disappearing each year 1,554 square kilometers of sea corals.
These figures are more alarming than previously thought. The decline of coral seems to be widely and uniformly over large areas. It was believed that in the Indo-Pacific region coral ran much less danger that the Caribbean. This error is probably due to the fact that the Caribbean reefs have been studied more extensively. In the Caribbean, coral declines at a rate of 1.5% per year.
The researchers found little difference between protected corals and which are not. In terms of fish population itself protected reefs thrive, but no corals.
These researchers concluded that warmer waters due to climate change are occurring this decline. It is known that the warm waters produce coral bleaching by disappearance of the symbiotic algae that live inside the polyps. They also facilitate the spread of disease. In any case, the end result is the death of the coral.
Local policies for fisheries control and other types can make enough to keep the coral short term, but long-term international cooperation is needed to stop global warming.
Although it was suggested (2004 Andrew Baker of Columbia University) in the past that the coral could adapt to change, the study indicates that Bruno does not seem to occur. Although there is sometimes an earlier recovery of damage in general this is not so. It seems that the change of environment (or what is the same temperature rise) occurs at a greater speed adaptability.
Andrew Baker says he could try to inoculate reefs with symbiotic algae tolerant to temperature increase to try to alleviate the problem.
The disappearance of coral involves the disappearance or even extinction of many animals that live on reefs or species of them. We have already lost half of the coral reefs in the world.
Coral reefs are considered the ecological equivalent at sea rainforests because of its rich biodiversity. Both are directly threatened ecosystems due to human hands.
One of the problems in protecting the reefs is the perception that these people have in general. Most do not dive and when he sees a turquoise tropical sea thinks there is no problem.
This study can be a wake up call to this serious environmental problem. If we want to save coral reefs we control the greenhouse effect and acidification of the waters.