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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Our poem



Friday, August 29, 2008

Study shows that Global Warming has devastating effects on coral reefs

Many coral reefs have been reduced to rubble, their collapse has also deprived fish of food and shelter. As a result, fish diversity has tumbled down by half in some areas, says the authors of the first long-term study of the effects of global warming-caused bleaching on coral reefs and fish.

The study focused mostly on reefs near Africa's Seychelles islands, north of Madagasca, which sustained heavy losses from bleaching in 1998.
"The outlook for recovery is quite bleak for the Seychelles," said lead study author Nicholas Graham, a tropical marine biologist at England's University of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The study, in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that isolated reef ecosystems like that around the Seychelles will suffer the most from global warming-caused bleaching events.

Warming Oceans

Small but prolonged rises in sea temperature forces the coral colonies to expel their symbiotic, food-producing algae, which is a process known as bleaching.
While the dying reefs, which turn ghostly white, may be able to recover from such events, many may not.
In 1998 an El Niño weather pattern sparked the worst coral-bleaching event ever observed.
Graham said that over 16% o the world's reefs were lost in 1998.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Discover the ocean--Christmas corals

Reef Sharks in Christmas Island

The island is a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean that is barely known and even less explored. But soon photo-journalists Shaun and Beth Tierney say Chirstmas Island, a small Australian territory, north-west of Perth, is one of nature's most impressive feats. They first visited the island for a diving trip in 2005. They were so smitten by the natural wonders of the island that they returned several times and even penned a book titled The Essential Christmas Island Travel Guide.

Discover the ocean

In the island, the tip of a volcanic mountain born of an eruption some 60 million years ago, and the island is ringed by a narrow coral reef. "Within just a few metres of the shore, it suddenly plunges to unimaginable depths," says Beth Tierney.

The colourful corals that encrust the shallower waters benefit from strong sunlight and deep-water upwellings that supply rich nutrients. "The diving is amazing, but even snorkellers on the surface can see way down into the depths, admiring the fish such as tuna, trevally, barracuda and reef sharks," she included.

Adapted from: The Straits Times Tuesday 19 August 2008 (Part C)(Page C4)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shipwreck (lastest news--Aug 22 2008)

Shipwrecks On Coral Reefs Harbor Unwanted Species
Shipwrecks on coral reefs may increase invasion of unwanted species of animals. According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study, these unwanted species can completely overtake the reef and eliminate all the native corals, making the diversity of marine organisms on the reef decrease drastically. This study documents for the first time that a rapid change in the dominant biota on a coral reef is unambiguously associated with man-made structures.
The findings of the study suggests that the removal of these man-made structures sooner rather than later is the key to keeping the reefs healthy.
In many areas of the world, the health of coral reefs are declining, but by identifying the exact cause of the problem is difficult. Overgrowth of coral reefs by other species, such as algae, are usually attributed to environmental degradation, but bleaching, disease, damage by typhoons, overfishing, coastal development, pollution, and tourism can cause problems as well.

The study was conducted at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the central Pacific, a relatively remote, comparatively pristine area where little human activity has occurred since WWII. In 1991, a 100-foot vessel shipwrecked on the atoll. Scientists first surveyed the area in 2004 and found a species called Rhodactis howesii —an organism related to sea anemones and corals—in low abundance around the wreck. In subsequent years, however, populations of this organism increased exponentially.
Scientists documented extremely high densities of R. howesii that were progressively decreasing with distance from the ship, whereas R. howesii were rare to absent in other parts of the atoll. They also confirmed high densities of R. howesii around several buoys.

Whether this phenomenon occurs on other coral atolls is unknown; however, in the case of Palmyra, the R. howesii infestation is beginning to reach catastrophic proportions, according to Dr. Thierry Work, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, Honolulu Field Station. Within a few years, R. howesii spread to where it now occupies nearly 1 square mile.

"Why this phenomenon is occurring remains a mystery," said Work. One possibility, he said, is that iron leaching from the ship and mooring buoy chains, accompanied with other environmental factors particular to Palmyra atoll, are somehow promoting the growth of Rhodactis.

"Given the ability of Rhodactis sp. to reproduce rapidly and completely smother reefs, managers are now facing the possibility that even with removal of the ship, sheer reproductive capacity of R. howesii may continue to fuel its invasion along the western reef shelf of Palmyra," Work said.
Understanding what constitutes a healthy underwater ecosystem, as well as what does not, is crucial to preventing further losses in species and habitat. This research illustrates a little-known problem that, unlike global warming and pollution, could be prevented by removing man-made debris such as shipwrecks from coral reefs before organisms like Rhodactis howesii can overtake or eliminate coral reefs that are healthy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


More than 4,000 species of fish and other sea creatures are in a perilous position as their home faces extinction.

Increased pollution has impacted the coral reefs and our food chain.
Coral reefs hold more than 25 percent of all ocean life and serve as one of the most critical blocks in the human food chain.
"If we were to lose reefs, you basically lose the condominium that holds all those creatures," said Ellen Prager, chief marine scientist for the Aquarius Reef Base research project in Largo, Fla.
Coal reefs have thrived for 200 million years, but dealing with extensive human impact and environmental pressures, including overfishing, water pollution and climate change, have taken a toll on the ocean's populous habitats.
"The resilience of the coral reefs ecosystem is stressed and impaired," said environmental consultant Gary Davis.
Studying the Reefs
Scientists have turned to the world's third largest coral reef, which hugs south Florida's coast and extends to the Florida Keys, to help determine just how human and the environment influence coral reefs.

Prager is among the researchers studying coral reefs off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., in the world's only underwater lab looking for how climate change effects impact the Florida reef.
"By being down here and studying coral reef, we can see how they all act in the real world," Prager said.
The Florida reef is one of the ones facing the most risk because of human impact and environmental stress, but research from the Dry Tortugas, also in Florida, offers some hope.
The nation's most remote island chain, which has shores accessible only by boat or plane, is prime spawning area for coral. It also is a hurricane target. In fact, six storms hit the Dry Tortugas between 2004 and 2005, including Hurricane Katrina.
Each time a large storm hit, it stripped coral from the ocean floor.
"Fifty to 100 square miles of area literally denuded," said Jerald Ault, a professor at Rosenstiel School of Marine Science at the University of Miami. "It looked like your favorite parking lot."
Though Ault said the area was "decimated," it is coming back to life partly because of actions that protect the waters against fishing. The coral has bounced back from the storms and may give insight for other reefs experiencing trouble.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Behold--The beautiful rainforests of the sea!

The rainforests of the sea

Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the ocean and are rivaled only by the tropical rainforests on land. Many thousands of beautiful fish, sea urchins, mollusks and the corals themselves are part of the amazing marine life that populate these reefs.
Many people depend on living coral reefs for food and protection from erosion and storm surges, as well as the additional benefits of medical research, tourism and aesthetic beauty. Coral reefs protect people from storm surges as well as large waves by acting as natural barriers. Coral reefs are also considered the backbone of the tropical ocean ecosystems -- and without them, all sea life would suffer greatly, as well as the species that millions of people depend on for seafood.

But the coral reefs of the world are in danger, and we need your help today to protect these vital treasure troves of oceanic biodiversity.
Coral reefs are facing several threats. First of all is the warming of our oceans caused by global climate change. The algae that live in the coral animals will leave when living conditions become unfavorable. When these algae leave, the coral loses its color and causes the reef to "bleach." Sometimes bleaching is just temporary and there can be several stresses that cause it, but when large-scale, drastic damaging coral bleaching events occur, most of the time due to increased water temperatures. Warm ocean waters also help fuel storms and hurricanes intensity, which are able damage coral reefs severely. By controlling global warming, we can not only improve our own lives, but also save these amazing and beautiful reefs.

Many reefs around the world are also overfished -- or else the fish are removed with destructive fishing practices. When too many fish (even of just one species) are taken from a reef, the ecological balance of the entire reef ecosystem is thrown off-balance, and all the species of living creatures in the area become threatened. In addition, practices like cyanide fishing, bottom trawling and even blast (dynamite) fishing are all common practices of fishermen for harvesting fish around coral reefs. And the corals themselves are removed from reefs to be sold as souveniers, or to be placed in aquariums as decorations. And the remains of the corals that were not found were left to bleach and die in the sea.

Our support will help to protect coral reefs from threats like climate change, harvesting and destructive fishing practices. WWF has long been a leader in the scientific research that has linked climate change to coral reef destruction, as well as a strong proponent of putting in place marine protected areas that allow coral and fish populations to recover in untouched sanctuaries. With your help there is so much more we can accomplish to protect these rainforests of the sea.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Threats, water quality, run-off and climate change

Bleached Corals

The Great Barrier Reef is a vast interlinking web of life. All the plants and animals on the Reef play a part in keeping this web healthy and strong, and the relationships between different organisms on the Reef have been built and maintained over many thousands of years. Humans are relative newcomers to the Reef, and we've brought some big changes. Many things that we humans do on the Reef and on land have the ability to threaten the Reef's fragile ecosystem.On the Great Barrier Reef, careful management has made sure that most of our activities do not threaten the long-term health of the Reef's ecosystem.

Research has shown that tourism does not exert much pressure on the Great Barrier Reef because it is thinly spread over such a vast area. In addition, tourism operators have a vested interest in the health of the Reef, and act as watchdogs, alerting management authorities early if they see something going wrong.Fishing on the Reef is carefully managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Department of Primary Industries, so as to ensure that it will be sustainable for many generations to come.
Ironically, the biggest threats to the Reef mainly come from human activities on land.

Water quality and run-off
Sediments and nutrients, fertilisers, pesticides, toxic chemicals, sewage, rubbish, detergents, heavy metals and oil run through rivers and out to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, where they are able to threaten plants and animals on the Reef. Land users and governments are now working together to try and improve the quality of water flowing onto the Great Barrier Reef as part of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

Climate change
The Earth is getting warmer, and is now higher than it has been for 2000 years. A large body of research suggests that this is due to the greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by activities done by humans such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Even small changes in temperature can have a drastic effect on the natural environment. Even the rising of the Sea's temperature by just 1 or 2 degrees centigrade can cause coral bleaching as well as death, on a worldwide scale.