Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The last days of coral reefs

UPDATE: The coral reefs of New Caledonia were just recognized as a UN World Heritage Site. Book your tickets soon...

This week is the International Coral Reef Symposium, down in Fort Lauderdale. The news is not hopeful. NOAA's triennial state of the reefs report says half of all corals in U.S. waters are in trouble, with two species of coral making the threatened species list under the ESA.

What with damage from hurricanes, pollution, ships, marauding crown-of-thorns starfish, and the threat of an acid ocean it's hard to find good news about corals, though NOAA does try in its text-laden summary from the report's press kit. You get one "good news" bit and one "bad news" bit for each location.
An example:
U.S. Virgin Islands

GOOD Marine Conservation Districts covering 45 km2 now protect important fish spawning aggregations south of St. Thomas and have increased the mean size and number of some species in St. Thomas but not in St. Croix
BAD A regional mass coral bleaching event and subsequent coral disease epidemic in 2005-06 reduced overall coral cover by about 50%.
Most of the news is in a similar vein: we're taking some action, but our measurements show corals in decline.

1 comment:

Jives said...

Major Brainstorm:

We get Monsanto to genetically alter coral that eats plastic and drop the spores on garbage island.