Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Researchers Deliver Blueprint For Rescuing America's Troubled Coral Reefs

Date:
March 23, 2005
Source:
Stanford University
Summary:
An international team of marine ecologists is urging the United States to take immediate action to save its fragile coral reefs. Their message is contained a strongly worded essay titled, "Are U.S. Coral Reefs on the Slippery Slope to Slime?" that appears in the March 18 edition of the journal Science.

An international team of marine ecologists is urging the United States to take immediate action to save its fragile coral reefs. Their message is contained a strongly worded essay titled, "Are U.S. Coral Reefs on the Slippery Slope to Slime?" that appears in the March 18 edition of the journal Science.

Related Articles


"We're frustrated with how slowly things are moving with coral reef conservation in the United States," said Fiorenza Micheli, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station. "Tiny steps are being taken, but they really don't address the overall problem."

Micheli and Stanford graduate student Carrie Kappel are among 11 researchers from the United States and Australia who co-authored the Science essay, which focused on America's two major coral reef systems in Hawaii and Florida.

Florida's coral reef barrier stretches some 200 miles along the Florida Keys and plays an important role in the state's economy. "Annual revenues from reef tourism are $1.6 billion, but the economic future of the Keys is gloomy owing to accelerating ecological degradation," the authors noted. "Florida's reefs are well over halfway toward ecological extinction…Large predatory fishes continue to decrease, reefs are increasingly dominated by seaweed and alarming diseases have emerged."

In 1990, the U.S. government established the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to protect the reef--third longest in the world behind Australia and Belize. But pollution, overfishing, disease and thermal stress caused by climate change remain significant problems throughout the sanctuary, according to the authors. "Conversion of 16,000 cesspools to centralized sewage treatment and control of other land-based pollution have only just begun," they noted, and only 6 percent of sanctuary waters have been set aside as "no take zones" where fishing is prohibited.

In contrast, the neighboring countries of Cuba and the Bahamas have agreed to conserve 20 percent of their coral reef ecosystems, while Australia recently zoned one-third of its massive Great Barrier Reef as "no take" in an attempt to reverse further ecological decline.

The coral reefs of Hawaii's main islands--Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii--also show degradation similar to that of the Florida Keys, according to the authors. And while reefs in the isolated northwest Hawaiian Islands remain in relatively good condition, they, too, are showing signs of decline: "Monk seals and green turtles are endangered; large amounts of marine debris are accumulating, which injure or kill corals, seabirds, mammals, turtles and fishes; and levels of contaminants, including lead and PCBs, are high."

To prevent further ecological deterioration, the research team recommended that the United States start managing its coral reefs as whole ecosystems instead of fragmented habitats. "For too long, single actions such as making a plan, reducing fishing or pollution, or conserving a part of the system were viewed as goals," they wrote. "But only combined actions addressing all of these threats will achieve the ultimate goal of reversing the trajectory of decline. We need to act now to curtail processes adversely affecting reefs."

Stopping overfishing will require integrated systems of "no take" areas as well as quotas on harvests, they said, and "terrestrial runoff of nutrients, sediments and toxins must be greatly reduced by wiser land use and coastal development." In addition, "slowing or reducing global warming trends is essential for the long-term health of all tropical coral reefs."

Like any other successful business, managing coral reefs requires investment in infrastructure, according to the authors. However, such investment will produce long-term benefits for the economy and the environment.

"Short-lived species, like lobster, conch and aquarium fish will recover and generate income in just a few years," they noted. "Longer-lived species will recover, water quality will improve and the ecosystem will be more resilient to unforeseen future threats. Ultimately, we will have increased tourism and the possibility of renewed sustainable extraction of abundant megafauna. One day, reefs of the United States could be the pride of the nation."

The Science essay was co-written by lead author John Pandolfi of the University of Queensland, Australia; Jeremy Jackson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama; Nancy Baron, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis; Roger Bradbury, Australian National University; Hιctor Guzman, STRI; Terry Hughes, James Cook University, Australia; John Ogden, Florida Institute of Oceanography; Hugh Possingham, University of Queensland; and Enric Sala , Scripps.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stanford University. "Marine Researchers Deliver Blueprint For Rescuing America's Troubled Coral Reefs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323120043.htm>.
Stanford University. (2005, March 23). Marine Researchers Deliver Blueprint For Rescuing America's Troubled Coral Reefs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323120043.htm
Stanford University. "Marine Researchers Deliver Blueprint For Rescuing America's Troubled Coral Reefs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050323120043.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Obama's Wildlife Plan Renews Alaska Drilling Debate

Newsy (Jan. 26, 2015) — President Obama&apos;s proposal aims to protect more land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so far, all that&apos;s materialized is a war of words. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) — A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dramatic Footage Shows Coast Guard Rescue Off Scottish Coast

Dramatic Footage Shows Coast Guard Rescue Off Scottish Coast

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — Footage just released by the UK Coast Guard shows a dramatic helicopter rescue off the Scottish coast, where five men were plucked to safety after their fishing boat sank on Saturday. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stunning Wingsuit Proximity Flying in Norway

Stunning Wingsuit Proximity Flying in Norway

Rumble (Jan. 23, 2015) — A collection of amazing shots from flights made in the Aurland Valley in Norway. How incredible is that? Credit to &apos;BASEjumper&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins