Thursday, June 30, 2011

Less fishing means more corals

Corals have recently experienced serious decline in population mostly because of climate change which is not only major culprit for coral bleaching events but has also contributed to the rise of extreme weather events such as hurricanes which are also causing huge damage to coral reefs.

The researchers are already involved into very lively discussion about the possible solution(s ) to protect coral reefs from climate change. The latest proposal comes from the University of Exeter in very simple form of less fishing. The researchers at the University of Exeter believe that by establishing marine protected area which could stop people from fishing would help corals survive the effects of a changing climate by more than 50 years.

Corals play extremely important role in proper functioning of the marine food chain so their loss would cause huge damage to marine biodiversity leading to irreversible changes in many marine ecosystems.

Corals are extremely vulnerable to even the slight increases in sea temperatures. The scientists have calculated that a temperature increase of just one degree Celsius above average for a few weeks is enough to kill off 95%of individual corals. Many scientists have already issued warning that entire coral population will disappear by the end of this century if world fails to massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to this latest discovery one effective way to help corals cope with climate change would be to protect the fish that live around Caribbean coral reefs. Why are fish so important for survival of corals? It is because there are many fish species such as parrotfish which graze on the algae which competes for space with corals. With less algae around coral reefs can recover more quickly.

The researchers have already showed that protecting parrotfish gives coral more time for recovery, and time is certainly the most important factor in equation of how to save corals.

The success of coral reefs conservation will play a vital role in preserving the marine biodiversity for years to come. Conservation managers need all the help they can get because they have very limited amount of options available to them, particularly if the world fails to agree on new international climate deal. Protecting fish species such as parrotfish might just give corals enough time to escape from the brink of extinction.

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