Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It's not too late for coral reefs, experts say

Date:
October 3, 2012
Source:
Nova Southeastern University
Summary:
Coral reefs – ecosystems of incredible environmental and economic value – are showing evidence of significant degradation, but do not have to be doomed. We can make a difference, researchers say.

From Left to Right: back row - Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D.; dean of Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center and executive director of NSU's National Coral Reef Institute; Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; and NSU President George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D.. Front row - NSU Oceanographic Center graduate students demonstrate how NSU's onshore coral reef nurseries work
Credit: Nova Southeastern University

Coral reefs -- ecosystems of incredible environmental and economic value -- are showing evidence of significant degradation, but do not have to be doomed. We can make a difference.

Once plentiful, coral reefs worldwide and locally have been ravaged by a number of stresses, including global threats like rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, and local threats like pollution, overfishing and coastal development. An estimated 25-30 percent of the world's coral reefs are already severely degraded or lost, and another very high percentage are in danger of greater impact or worse. Some even predict reefs could be essentially wiped out within a human generation unless action is taken.

The coral reef issue is not only an environmental problem, but an economic one. The United Nations estimates globally, coral reefs generate over $172 billion per year from the services they provide including tourism, recreation and fisheries. In South Florida alone, where 84 percent of the nation's reefs are located, reef ecosystems have been shown to generate over $6 billion in annual economic contributions and more than 71,000 jobs.

In July, hundreds of scientists joined in a consensus statement written at the recently held 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns Australia, stating: "Across the globe, these problems cause a loss of reef resources of enormous economic and cultural value. A concerted effort to preserve reefs for the future demands action at global levels, but also will benefit hugely from continued local protection."

Is there good news for the posterity of reefs? There can be. Research is allowing greater understanding about how reefs response to threats. Consequently, there are clear steps that must be taken to ameliorate stresses. Some of these are easy fixes that include stopping overfishing, controlling pollution and establishing marine protected areas. Others, like the rising ocean temperatures that are causing coral bleaching or the increasing acidity in our oceans, are more complex.

Research can also help us learn how to restore these valuable reefs. This includes raising corals in places where larvae and juveniles are nurtured in a relatively safe environment before being moved to a location where we can hope to restore a coral population.

Offshore coral nurseries are showing tremendous potential for restoration. A corollary, and less studied technique, is to grow corals under more controlled conditions in on-land nurseries where they are less subject to stress and variation. These specimens can then be transplanted back to degraded reefs that need a kick start. It's a fairly new idea -- and one among others that we hope will lead to increasing the tools for restoring coral reefs.

Because coral nurseries can play a significant role in restoration, we are expanding our grow-out facilities. With our new reef research facility, the Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research in Hollywood, Fla., we will triple the size of our land-based coral nursery operation. Our offshore nursery research area with thousands of corals will continue its efforts. We'll use state-of-the-art facilities to study coral stressors in a controlled environment in order to better understand the impacts of these threats and how to better take corrective actions.

There are many unanswered research questions: What size of coral best survives transplantation? When is the optimum time to conduct the transplantation? What genetic strains and mix of a single species will have greatest survivorship? How are the most appropriate species for restoration? How long does it take to restore a reef?

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. And like the Amazonian rainforest that's facing extreme degradation, reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate. We are embarking on a critical mission to understand and restore reef ecosystems. It's a mission that must be accomplished.

Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D., is dean of the Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center in Hollywood, Florida, and executive director of its National Coral Reef Institute.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Nova Southeastern University. "It's not too late for coral reefs, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132058.htm>.
Nova Southeastern University. (2012, October 3). It's not too late for coral reefs, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132058.htm
Nova Southeastern University. "It's not too late for coral reefs, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121003132058.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
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