Coral reefs survive tsunami relatively unscathed, report finds
April 15, 2005
The discovery contradicts initial reports suggesting that the region's reefs were devastated by the disaster, which killed around 300,000 people and caused billions in losses to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka.
The report notes that there are encouraging signs of coral regrowth and "it would appear that healthy coral reef systems such as those of Surin can begin to regenerate rapidly even in the aftermath of a natural event as momentous as a tsunami."
Coral Cay Conservation
For more on the assessment, please visit http://www.coralcay.org/archives/2005/04/06/13.20.43.php
Corals are tiny animals that live in colonies and derive nourishment and energy from a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae algae. Coral reefs are formed over the course of thousands of years as limestone skeletons constructed by corals accumulate and form a structural base for living corals. Scientists estimate reefs provide a home for millions of species - from brightly colored tropical fish to sea cucumbers which produce anti-cancer compounds.
Like tropical rainforests, coral reefs are imperilled by human influences. Coral reefs are particularly fragile ecosystems, partly due to their sensitivity to water temperature. When corals are physiologically stressed - as is the case when water temperatures are elevated - they may lose much of the their symbiotic algae, an event known as "bleaching." Corals can recover from short-term bleaching, but prolonged bleaching can cause irreversible damage.
Although reefs face other threats from pollution, industrial activities, overfishing, siltation, cyanide and dynamite fishing, and anchors, it is global climate change that most concerns scientists.
Coral Reef Decline Began Centuries Ago