Marine reserves improve health of coral reefs finds study
University of Exeter
January 5, 2006
It may be no surprise that marine reserves protect the fish that live in them, but now scientists from the University of Exeter have shown for the first time that they could also help improve the health of coral reefs.
Dr Peter Mumby, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, said: "While an increasing number of larger predators is essentially good news we had concerns that this might result in a decrease in the numbers of parrotfish, which could ultimately damage the health of the reef. More than 20 years ago sea urchins in the Caribbean were wiped out by disease, leaving parrotfish as the main grazer of reef surfaces. The fish use their teeth to remove seaweed from the reef which allows new corals to settle and grow.This grazing process is essential to the health of the system."
What we have found is that marine reserves might provide exactly the right conditions to allow this to happen. Interestingly, once parrotfish reach a length of around 28 cm, they become too big for even the largest grouper to swallow. This 'escape' from a risk of predation means that most reserves are unlikely to reduce the amount of grazing even after the number of predators rises."
Peter added, "Diving in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was fun because a large number of sharks turned up to watch us work. Sharks have been heavily fished on most coral reefs so it's always a thrill to visit one of their sanctuaries."
Coral reefs decimated by 2050, Great Barrier Reef's coral 95% dead
Australia's Great Barrier Reef could lose 95 percent of its living coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees Celsius projected by climate scientists. The startling and controversial prediction, made last year in a report commissioned by the World Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland government, is just one of the dire scenarios forecast for reefs in the near future.
Caribbean reefs suffer severe coral bleaching event
The Caribbean experienced one of the most devastating coral bleaching events on record during September and October while hurricanes battered the Gulf of Mexico. In response, NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have sent a team to assess the situation.
Recordings of coral reef sounds attract fish
According to an international team of researchers based in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, using recordings of reef sounds may increase reef fish stocks depleted by shipping traffic, underwater drilling and overfishing. Scientists have discovered that some species of young coral reef fish are lured back to home reefs by sounds they hear while still developing in the egg. By piping in convincing reef music,' consisting of recorded fish and shrimp noises through underwater speakers, marine biologists have been able to attract reef fish to artificial reefs to start new colonies. In the future, researchers hope to employ the same tactics to lead young reef fish to natural reefs where fish stocks have been decreased by outside factors or to populate newly established conservation areas.
Dubai's artificial islands have high environmental cost
While there have been numerous articles written recently about the proliferation of artificial island projects, the astounding "The World" venture among them, few have addressed or assessed the environmental impact of such massive undertakings and the transformation of both the sea and landscape. Until recently, Nakheel, the government-controlled corporation developing these ambitious projects, has been able to focus predominantly on promoting rather than defending the islands, but new evidence of environmental detriment is bringing the company and its projects under fire from certain groups.
This is a modified news release from the University of Exeter