Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Catastrophe? Soft Corals Melting Away Due To Global Warming, Says Researcher

Date:
November 13, 2007
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Coral extinction could mean a worldwide catastrophe impacting all marine and terrestrial life. Environmental stress is damaging the symbiotic relationship between soft corals and the microscopic symbiotic algae living in their tissues. There is no doubt that global warming is to blame, warns a prominent marine biologist, explaining that this symbiotic relationship is key for the survival of most soft corals.

Sinularia, a common soft coral found on reefs. The photo shows a colony that, suffering from high temperatures, has partially lost its symbiogic algae and is in danger of disappearing.
Credit: Image courtesy of Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University Professor (and alumnus)Hudi Benayahu, head of TAU's Porter School of Environmental Studies, has found that soft corals, an integral and important part of reef environments, are simply melting and wasting away. And Prof. Benayahu believes this could mean a global marine catastrophe.

Related Articles


Environmental stress, says Benayahu, is damaging the symbiotic relationship between soft corals and the microscopic symbiotic algae living in their tissues. There is no doubt that global warming is to blame, warns the marine biologist, explaining that this symbiotic relationship is key for the survival of most soft corals.

Soft corals help maintain the health and balance of reef ecosystems and provide protection to numerous animals such as “Nemo”, the famous clown fish from the Walt Disney movie. They are also a rich and promising source of life-saving drugs against cancer and deadly infectious diseases.

Says Prof. Benayahu, “It's too late. We have now actually missed the boat in finding some key pharmaceuticals. There is a huge gap in our knowledge of soft corals in the reef environment, and with the rate of extinction, we have lost certain species forever.”

We may never recover certain therapeutic drugs, and humans could not live witha wide-spread extinction of marine life, he points out. Life as we know it could not exist if the marine environment, an important producer of oxygen,continues to follow this course.

Unlike their harder brethren, soft corals have no stony calcified outer skeleton to protect them. When they die, they are gone for good, leaving no trace of their existence. Where soft corals were once found in about 50-60 percent of Prof. Benayahu’s study sites around the globe, a few years later he is finding that only about 5 percent remain.

Earlier this year, Prof. Benayahu observed of a Japanese soft coral reef,“There was a massive disappearance of soft corals. You can't imagine this was the same site. Just two years passed and the entire area was deserted, lifeless."

But there is still hope. Prof. Benayahu recently returnedfrom Phuket, Thailand, where he gave a training workshop to international students on the biology of soft corals. Future marine biologists from countries such as Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Israel and Thailand participated. The workshop was intended to increase awareness of what could be a global environmental catastrophe.

“I am hoping that these young scientists will take what they learned to better understand how they can save soft corals back in their home countries,” says Prof. Benayahu, who is also a professor of marine biology in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University.

With more than 35 years experience in the field, Prof. Benayahu is one of a handful of world experts who devotes his life to the taxonomy, ecology and biology of soft corals. He has discovered dozens of new soft coral species across the entire Indo-Pacific region, and he carefully studies with his students the role these species play in the reef environment. He has received numerous grants to support his work, including one from the National Geographic Society to study marine life and soft corals on shipwrecks.

Prof. Benayahu received both his Masters and Ph.D. degress in marine biology from Tel Aviv University. In 1982 he did post-doctoral training at natural history museums across Europe, as well as one year at Florida International University (Florida). Since 1987 he has been a Professor in the Department of Zoology at TAU and has published over 125 refereed papers.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "Marine Catastrophe? Soft Corals Melting Away Due To Global Warming, Says Researcher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112105938.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2007, November 13). Marine Catastrophe? Soft Corals Melting Away Due To Global Warming, Says Researcher. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112105938.htm
Tel Aviv University. "Marine Catastrophe? Soft Corals Melting Away Due To Global Warming, Says Researcher." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112105938.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day. Whichever way you prepare them, oats provide your body with many health benefits. In celebration of National Oatmeal Day, Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has a few recipe ideas, and tips on how to kickstart your day with this wholesome snack! Video provided by Buzz60
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