Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Reserves Could Save Coral Reefs

Date:
May 16, 2007
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Marine reserves have already proved to be a successful way of protecting marine life against commercial fishing. New research shows for the first time how marine reserves could also help in the recovery of corals, which are already suffering the effects of climate change and over-fishing.

Blue parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus), one of the largest herbivorous fishes on Caribbean coral reefs.
Credit: Evan D’Alessandro

Threatened coral reefs could be given a helping hand by establishing marine reserves, according to a research team led by the University of Exeter. Marine reserves have already proved to be a successful way of protecting marine life against commercial fishing. Now, research published 15 May 2007 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows for the first time how marine reserves could also help in the recovery of corals, which are already suffering the effects of climate change and over-fishing.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the research was carried out on The Bahamas' Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. At 442 square km, this is one of the largest and most successful marine reserves in the Caribbean.

The team found that the number of young corals doubled in areas in which native fish, such as parrotfish, were protected from being caught. Young corals are needed to replace older corals that have been killed by storms, disease or other problems. The reserve enabled young corals to survive exceptionally well because marauding seaweeds were controlled by grazing from plentiful numbers of parrotfishes living in the reserve.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Mumby of the University of Exeter said: 'This is the first evidence we have that marine reserves benefit coral. Coral reefs are unique ecosystems that have supported thousands of fish and other marine species for millions of years. We estimate that humans have already destroyed around 30% of the world's coral reefs and climate change is now causing further damage to coral. These findings illustrate the need to maintain high levels of parrotfishes on reefs in order to give corals a fighting chance of recovering. This can either be done using marine reserves or national fisheries legislation that protects parrotfish.'

Marine reserves are areas of the sea that are protected against potentially-damaging human activity, like mining and fishing. Approximately 19% of the world's coral reefs are located within marine reserves.

Reef facts

  • A coral reef is made up of thin layers of calcium carbonate (limestone) secreted over thousands of years by billions of tiny soft bodied animals called coral polyps.
  • Coral reefs are the world's most diverse marine ecosystems and are home to twenty-five percent of known marine species, including 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral and thousands of other plants and animals.
  • Coral reefs have been on the planet for over 400 million years.
  • The largest coral reef is the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches along the northeast coast of Australia, from the northern tip of Queensland, to just north of Bundaberg. At 2,300km long, it is the largest natural feature on Earth.
  • Coral reefs occupy less than one quarter of one percent of the Earth's marine environment, yet they are home to more than a quarter of all known fish species.

As well as supporting huge tourist industries, coral reefs protect shorelines from erosion and storm damage.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Marine Reserves Could Save Coral Reefs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515074933.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2007, May 16). Marine Reserves Could Save Coral Reefs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515074933.htm
University of Exeter. "Marine Reserves Could Save Coral Reefs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515074933.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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