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News articles on Coral Reefs
Mongabay.com news articles on Coral Reefs in blog format. Updated regularly.
(07/28/2008) Coral reefs are particularly susceptible to climate change. Warming waters have been shown to bleach coral, killing off symbiotic algae that provide them with sustenance, and often leading to the death of the coral itself. Much attention has been placed on bleaching coral, but now scientists have discovered an additional danger to coral reefs in a warming world: erosion.
Coral susceptibility to bleaching due to small differences in symbiotic relationship
(07/22/2008) Coral reefs are now considered the second most threatened group of animals in the world, with nearly one-third of corals listed as endangered (amphibians retain the dubious honor of being number one). Although corals face many threats, the greatest is bleaching caused by warming oceans due to climate change. However, some coral populations are more susceptible to bleaching than others, even including corals of the same species. New research has uncovered that the reason lies in small differences in the symbiotic relationship between corals and their symbionts, small marine animals and protozoa. Such differences, however miniscule, have a huge impact on the likelihood of a coral's ability to survive warming oceans.
Moving species may be only way to save them from climate change
(07/17/2008) Desperate times call for desperate measures, according to a new paper in Science. conservation scientists from the US, the UK, and Australia are calling for the consideration of a highly controversial conservation technique: assisted migration. According to the policy piece, species would be relocated to sites "where they do not currently occur or have not been known to occur in recent history".
1/3 of corals face extinction
(07/10/2008) Nearly one-third of reef-building corals are vulnerable to extinction, according to an assessment of 845 species of coral. Rising temperatures, increased incidence of disease, and human disturbance are driving the trend.
Good news for reefs: giant coral structure found off Brazil
(07/07/2008) Amid a series of dire reports on the status of coral reefs, scientists announced the discovery of a reef off the southern coast of Brazil's Bahia state that doubles the size of the Southern Atlantic Ocean's largest and richest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank.
U.S. coral reefs in trouble
(07/07/2008) Nearly half of U.S. coral reefs are in "poor" or "fair" condition according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
CO2 emissions could doom fishing industry
(07/03/2008) Aside from warming climate, rising carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to ocean acidification, threatening sea live, warn researchers writing in the journal Science. This trend makes it all the more important to reduce emissions, argue the authors.
Scientists aim to catalogue tropical island from mountaintops to seafloor
(06/04/2008) Scientists are launching an effort to catalogue a complete tropical ecosystem, the first time anyone has attempted such an ambitious undertaking. Led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, a U.S.-French team plans to collect DNA "barcodes" for every animal, plant, and fungus on the small island of Moorea in the South Pacific, scouring habitats from coral reefs to high-reaching cloud forests. The island could eventually serve as a model for how ecosystems respond to stresses such as climate change, invasive species, and pollution.
Environmental damage costs $4.8 trillion annually
(05/28/2008) Environmental damage and biodiversity loss in forest ecosystems costs 2.1 to 4.8 trillion dollars per year, according to a report released Thursday at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Bonn, Germany.
50 years after the blast: Recovery in Bikini Atoll's coral reef
(05/27/2008) Fifty years after atomic bombs rocked Bikini Atoll and pulverized its coral reef, the lagoon again boasts a flourishing coral community. Scientists diving in the two-kilometer-wide Bravo Crater, created in 1954 by a blast 1,000 times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, found a thriving habitat with treelike corals 30 centimeters (one foot) thick. The study shows that coral reefs can recover from profound damage?when humans leave them alone.
Microbes could be the key to coral death
(04/02/2008) Coral reefs could be dying out because of changes to the microbes that live in them just as much as from the direct rise in temperature caused by global warming, according to scientists speaking today at the Society for General Microbiology's 162nd meeting being held this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Fast-growing coral may help reefs survive global warming
(03/13/2008) Two fast-growing coral species may hold the key to Caribbean reefs surviving global warming, report researchers writing in the journal Science.
Belize's world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk
(03/03/2008) Belize's world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical conservation Science.
Expedition finds inverted pyramid where sharks dominate marine ecology
(02/25/2008) A survey of a remote Pacific archipelago turned up pristine coral reefs that could offer a "baseline" for measuring the human impact on reefs worldwide, report researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California at San Diego.
Widespread butterflyfish may go extinct due to global warming, pollution
(02/24/2008) The Chevroned Butterflyfish, a colorful fish found in tropical oceans around the world, faces extinction due to overexploitation, pollution and climate change, report researchers writing in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. Despite its widespread distribution, the species could be doomed by its specialized feeding habitats: the Chevroned Butterflyfish (Chaetodon trifascialis) feeds on only one type of coral.
Why are oceans at risk from global warming?
(02/17/2008) Climate change is putting the world's oceans at risk by increasing the temperature and acidity of seawater, and altering atmospheric and oceanic circulation, warned a panel of scientists this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston.
Only 4% of the ocean is pristine according to first oceanic map of human-impact
(02/14/2008) There is a much used adage regarding the ocean that goes something like this: we know more about our solar system than our ocean. Whether or not one believes this to be true (less than 5% of the ocean has been explored), a group of over twenty researchers, by agglomerating the available information on the oceans, have created a large-scale image of the ocean's health.
World's largest marine protected area established in the South Pacific
(02/14/2008) Kiribati, a small island nation in the South Pacific, has established the world's largest marine protected area.
Natural ocean thermostat may protect some coral reefs
(02/07/2008) Natural processes may prevent oceans from warming beyond a certain point, helping protect some coral reefs from the impacts of climate change, new research finds. The study provides evidence that an ocean "thermostat" may be helping regulate sea-surface temperatures in a biologically diverse region of the western Pacific.
Sunscreen damages coral reefs
(01/31/2008) Sunscreen can damage reefs by worsening viral infections in symbiotic algae that provide corals with sustenance, reports Nature News
Groups call for doubling of reef protection for International Year of the Reef
(01/25/2008) Thursday 17 countries and 30 organization launched the International Year of the Reef, a campaign to protect coral reefs increasingly threatened by climate change, pollution, and unsustainable activities.
Starfish invasion threatens world's richest coral reefs
(01/14/2008) Outbreaks of the notorious crown of thorns starfish now threaten the "coral triangle," the richest center of coral reef biodiversity on Earth, according to recent surveys by the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
Human activity is killing coral reefs in the Caribbean
(01/08/2008) A wide and thorough study of the Caribbean's coral reefs--including 322 sites in 13 countries--has shown that the main indicator of coral destruction in the Caribbean is the proximity of human populations: the larger the population the greater the deterioration of the reefs. Contributing factors are numerous, but the study showed that coastal development causes the most damage to coral reefs and fish populations, because of increased sewage and fishing pressure; while proximity to agriculture results in macroalgae due to runoff of agricultural chemicals.
Global warming will degrade 98% of coral reefs by 2050
(12/13/2007) Ocean acidification caused by human-induced carbon dioxide emissions could dramatically alter the planet's coral reefs and marine food chains, warns research published in the December 14 issue of Science and presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco.
Coral reefs with seasonal temperatures may survive climate change
(11/29/2007) Scientists have revealed an important discovery that raises doubts concerning the viability of plans to fertilize the ocean to solve global warming, a projected $100 billion venture.
Global warming is melting soft corals
(11/13/2007) Soft corals are "simply melting and wasting away" due to global warming-induced environmental stress says Dr. Hudi Benayahu, head of Tel Aviv University's Porter School of Environmental Studies.
Environmentalists may use Endangered Species Act to pressure gov't on global warming
(09/07/2007) The addition of elkhorn and staghorn corals to the Endangered Species Act due to threats from climbing ocean temperatures, may be environmentalists' best weapon for levering the U.S. government into action on global warming, writes Mark Clayton of The Christian Science Monitor.
"Weird" algae key to survival of coral reefs
(08/31/2007) A team of coral researchers has taken a major stride towards revealing the workings of the mysterious "engine" that drives Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and corals the world over.
Coral reefs declining faster than rainforests
(08/08/2007) Coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean are dying faster than previously thought due to costal development, climate change, and disease, reports a study published Wednesday in the online journal PLoS One. Nearly 600 square miles of reef have disappeared per year since the late 1960s, a rate twice that of tropical rainforest loss.
Fish cultivate gardens of algae
(07/24/2007) Damselfish cultivate "gardens" of algae, according to a study published last October in the journal Biology Letters.
Hurricanes can help coral reefs
(07/17/2007) A close call with a hurricane can be beneficial to a stressed coral reef, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
How long does it take reef fish to recover from overfishing?
(07/11/2007) Recovery of fish populations from overfishing can take decades, reports a new study based on 37 years of observations.
Mangroves more threatened than rainforests
(07/05/2007) Destruction of mangrove forests could leave the world deprived of their important ecological services by the end of a century, warns an international team of scientists writing in the July 6th issue of the journal Science.
Coral diseases largely result from human activities
(05/17/2007) The apparent increase in infectious disease among coral is likely the result of environmental change and, as such, researchers should focus on understanding the relationship between coral diseases and environmental changes, rather than the diseases themselves, argues a paper published in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.
Marine reserves help damaged coral reefs recover
(05/14/2007) Marine reserves can help coral reefs damaged by overfishing, disease, and bleaching caused by high temperatures, reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Global warming is killing coral reefs
(05/07/2007) A new study provides further evidence that climate change is adversely affecting coral reefs. While previous studies have linked higher ocean temperatures to coral bleaching events, the new research, published in PLoS Biology, found that climate change may increasing the incidence of disease in Great Barrier Reef corals. Omniously, the research also shows that healthy reefs, with the highest density of corals, are hit the hardest by disease.
Coral reef fish return home after drifting the seas
(05/03/2007) Most coral reef fish larvae return to their 'home' reefs after spending weeks to months maturing in the open ocean, reports a new study published in the journal Science. The findings improve the understanding of coral reef ecosystems and have implications for marine conservation efforts.
Tsunami-producing quake caused mass coral death in Indonesia
(04/11/2007) Researchers say 300 kilometers of sea floor heaved more than a meter upwards, exposing -- and killing -- corals in unprecedented numbers. Scientists have reported what is thought to be one of the world's greatest mass death of corals ever recorded as a result of the earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia on 28 March 2005.
Some corals may survive acidification caused by rising CO2 levels
(03/29/2007) Several studies have shown that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are acidifying the world's oceans. This is significant for coral reefs because acidification strips carbonate ions from seawater, making it more difficult for corals to build the calcium carbonate skeletons that serve as their structural basis. Research has shown that many species of coral, as well as other marine microorganisms, fare quite poorly under the increasingly acidic conditions forecast by some models. However, the news may not be bad for all types of corals. A study published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science, suggests that some corals may weather acidification better than others.
Sachs says biodiversity extinction crisis avoidable
(03/26/2007) In a Guardian editorial published Wednesday, Jeffrey Sachs called for action to stem mounting losses of global biodiversity. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, says humans are the primary cause for depletion of the world's biological richness.
New Snapper Species Discovered in Brazil
(03/09/2007) A new species of snapper was discovered off the coast of Brazil. The popular game fish had long been mistaken for a more common species, according to scientists with conservation International (CI) and Environmental Defense. The description of the Lutjanus alexandrei snapper is published in the journal Zootaxa.
Carbon dioxide levels threaten oceans regardless of global warming
(03/08/2007) Rising levels of carbon dioxide will have wide-ranging impacts on the world's oceans regardless of climate change, reports a study published in the March 9, 2007, issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Coral species may help fight global warming impact
(03/04/2007) While many coral species appear to be potentially doomed by global warming, some species may help fight the impact of climate change, in effect helping protect coral reef ecosystems, argues a Cornell University biologist.
Unknown mollusks and crustaceans discovered in the Philippines
(02/05/2007) A French-led marine expedition team may have discovered hundreds of previously unknown species of mollusks and crustaceans around Panglao, an island in the Philippines, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Live fish trade causing massive depletion of coral reef species
(01/24/2007) According to a new study conducted by Cambridge University researchers off the northern coast of Borneo, the live reef fish trade is having a major impact on marine populations.
Marine protected areas boost fishing yields
(12/18/2006) A new study conducted on the reefs of Madagascar found that marine protected areas can benefit the fishing industry. The study, authored by Frances Humber, a scientist with conservation group Blue Ventures, found that implementing seasonal fishing closures for octopus boosted returns for fishermen when the closed areas were reopened to fishing after seven months. Octopus yields increased 13 times while the total weight of octopus caught jumped 25 times.
Worst coral reef die-off in 11,000 years
(12/18/2006) Two new studies by scientists at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University suggest that coral reefs may be in worse shape than previously thought. The first, appearing in the journal Geology indicates that the current large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more frequently than at any time in the last 11,000 years. The second, published in Current Biology, suggests that the loss of a single 'keystone' species can trigger a rapid shift in the health of a reef.
Coral reefs help protect from tsunami damage
(12/18/2006) Healthy coral reefs can help reduce the impact of tsunami waves relative to unhealthy or dead reefs, according to a new Princeton University study published in the December 14 edition of the journal Geophysical Review Letters.
Great Barrier Reef shark populations collapsing finds study
(12/04/2006) Coral reef shark populations are declining rapidly due to fishing according to research published in the December 5th issue of the journal Current Biology. The paper says that "no-take zones" -- areas where fishing is prohibited -- can be effective in protecting sharks but only when the no-take regulations are strictly enforced. Examining two common species of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the researchers found that both populations are in the midst of a rapid population decline -- 7% per year for white tip sharks and 17% per year for gray reef sharks, showing that current shark conservation strategies are not effective.
Global warming-fueled storms could devastate coral reefs
(11/23/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef and other coral ecosystems could suffer from increasingly powerful storms brought about by global warming according to computer models published by a team of Australian scientists in the journal Nature.
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