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Unprecedented Die-off of Caribbean Coral Reefs and Our Ailing Oceans

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posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 10:47 AM

Caribbean Coral Suffers Record Death

A one-two punch of bleaching from record hot water followed by disease has killed ancient and delicate coral in the biggest loss of reefs scientists have ever seen in Caribbean waters.

Researchers from around the globe are scrambling to figure out the extent of the loss. Early conservative estimates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands find that about one-third of the coral in official monitoring sites has recently died.

"It's an unprecedented die-off," said National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller, who last week checked 40 stations in the Virgin Islands. "The mortality that we're seeing now is of the extremely slow-growing reef-building corals. These are corals that are the foundation of the reef ... We're talking colonies that were here when Columbus came by have died in the past three to four months."


And this also just in today:

Research in Pacific shows ocean trouble Acidity rises, oxygen drops, scientists find

Research fresh off a boat that docked Thursday in Alaska reveals some frightening changes taking place in the Pacific Ocean.

As humans are pumping out more carbon dioxide that is helping to warm the planet, the ocean has been doing yeoman's work to lessen the effects -- but it's taking a toll.

Over time, the changes could have an impact that ripples through the food chain, from microscopic plants that can't grow right to salmon and whales unable to find enough to eat.

The Pacific is getting warmer and more acidic, while the amount of oxygen and the building blocks for coral and some kinds of plankton are decreasing, according to initial results from scientists with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the University of Washington and elsewhere.


Almost daily, now, the news is frighteningly clear: we are in for big change.


[edit on 31-3-2006 by loam]

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 11:35 AM
The coral reefs are dying in the span of a few months?!?!
Change that fast is alarming.
But why the increase in acidity? Is it acid rain, acidic run-off, or some chemical reaction between warmer temps and organic die-off?

All this crap going on marching towards our doom and I worry about never being a dad, but that's my dilemma, to bring a kid into the world or not.

Not would be logical, but instinct is strong.
Just like other human instinct that contributes to our destruction, pollution, greed and overpopulation.

Earth would be just fine without us.

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 11:39 AM

This stuff jumped out at me from your first link loam:

The Caribbean is actually better off than areas of the Indian and Pacific ocean where mortality rates — mostly from warming waters — have been in the 90 percent range in past years, said Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Goreau called what's happening worldwide "an underwater holocaust."

..."The 2005 event is bigger than all the previous 20 years combined," he said. ...Crabbe said evidence of global warming is overwhelming. ..."The big problem for coral is the question of whether they can adapt sufficiently quickly to cope with climate change," Crabbe said. "I think the evidence we have at the moment is: No, they can't.

"It'll not be the same ecosystem," he said. "The fish will go away. The smaller predators will go away. The invertebrates will go away."

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 01:54 PM
Unless of course the coral zygotes, (or whatever the heck you want to call them) move to cooler waters that are within their normal temp. range to rebuild anew.
That is of course if the problem is temperature related alone.
The Earth has been through many changes and has always rebounded, or had some organism fill in a vacant niche left because of extinction.

Organisms adapt, yes they do, but the question is, how fast can they do it?

How ironic we'll be the last to go, and we contributed greatly to Earth's destruction.

Kill the humans, save a planet!

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 04:34 PM
Good thing we are learning about ways of creating and regenerating reefs. There are two methods I'm aware of right at this moment, first is to sink a ship. The second is to build a schafold and pass a low voltage current through it.

Low Voltage Coral Reef generation

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 04:40 PM
even if we create artificial reefs, it takes years for it to become a suitable habitat for all those beautiful coral and fish, but even so, from what I'm understanding, creating artificial reefs may not work, because whatever is killing them off in the first place will do the same to the artificial ones.

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 10:43 PM

Originally posted by worldwatcher

creating artificial reefs may not work, because whatever is killing them off in the first place will do the same to the artificial ones.

Excellent point.

Seems we have bit of homework to do.

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 11:11 PM
Moreover, what this suggests is something far more catastrophic...

Entire segments of the ocean food chain are at severe risk. This, for me, is the most disturbing thing I've heard in relationship to global climate change. The further down the food chain you go, the greater the domino effect.

I am realizing for the first time the increased potential of witnessing in my lifetime the end of the world as we know it. Prior to now, I've contemplated such notions in the context of science fiction stories, or a problem left for later generations WAY DOWN the line... Now, I'm not so sure.

The truth is, I think the debate over global climate change is possibly over. It may not matter how we arrived at this point...and it may even be futile to think we can do anything to stop it.

Where that leaves us, I'm afraid, is thinking about how best to survive in a dramatically altered world....before it is too late....that discussion has yet to really begin.

[edit on 31-3-2006 by loam]

posted on Mar, 31 2006 @ 11:26 PM
Hope this is not too off-topic, but it was delivered as a message over 20 years ago when it was not happening.This is much more widespread than predicted.

posted on Apr, 1 2006 @ 03:49 PM
Not sure whom...but someone had asked what the deal with the increase in ACID was.

As glacier ice (greenland/siberia/antarctic) melts chemicals such as Selinium (acidic) methane and CO2 are released. Now normally this process is reversed during the Northern Hemisheres summer. (This being when its coldest in these glacier regions). Unfortuently for the planet....our winters have, over the past two or three decades, been slowly but surely getting either less intense and longer or more intense but dramatically shorter. This fluxuation has caused normal sea ice and glacier ice to melt at a rate significantly higher than the rate of refreezing.

Hope that answers your question.

EL senor pom pom rides again

posted on Apr, 2 2006 @ 11:28 PM
The virgin islands are not known for their healthy reefs. Sadly the places that rely on things like their reefs for tourism ultimately kill the reef due to the tourism they bring (i.e. Florida Keyes)

Perhaps the best reef in the New World is in Belize and even that has been steadily declining for a dozen or so years. I did some field work there two years ago and I would like to go back if anyone can get me some grant money. I will contact my friends in Belize to see if they have noticed anything strange in the last several months.

posted on Apr, 4 2006 @ 10:02 PM
sounds like they have been dumping nuclear waste or something.

why is it bad if the coral dies, can somebody explain?

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 07:19 AM
Does anyone have a map, on how the World is supposed to look with all this extra water in our Ocean levels, and

Coral correct me if im wrong, but coral is a natural living Filtration system for our Oceans, Kinda like the Rainforest of our Oceans, they provide life for a Huge number of new and discovered life, as well as provide wonderful mating an spawning grounds, an filter much of the water flow as well as prevent Erosion.
(Basic General info, Older, but informative)

(info on the fish that thrive around coral)

if im wrong u may bring out the wet nooddles an Commence Beating.

[edit on 5-4-2006 by Tranceopticalinclined]

[edit on 5-4-2006 by Tranceopticalinclined]

[edit on 5-4-2006 by Tranceopticalinclined]

posted on Apr, 5 2006 @ 03:34 PM
The only reason I can give on the importance of coral is that it has it's own intrinsic value that we should respect.

I could say that the reason to keep coral and all endangered life around is to help humans find new ways to help ourselves through pharmaceuticals etc - that would be valid. I could also say we should protect it because it is pretty and once they are gone, it is not like replanting a tree. It would may take a decade for a coral to grow an inch or two. Longer (a human lifetime) to reestablish a diverse community. However, we should respect all life whether or not it has a benefit to us. The majority of species extinctions in the last 50,000 years has also been our fault due to something humans are screwing up somewhere. If you're a religious person, many texts state we should be stewards of the land and keep it as God made it or improve upon it. We have greatly failed in this.

Coral are also a vast source of biodiversity. It's not just the living rock that we are killing, it is the entire community from the coral polyps to the fish that live there (which spend some of their lifetime in the coral other parts in nearby mangroves or grassbeds)

Corals have a very fragile window in which they can live.
1) The water for most coral types needs to be between 70 and 85 degrees F
2) It needs to be at the right depth (-1.5-ten meters under water) for the photosynthetic part of its lifecycle
3) It has a narrow PH window
4) The water can not be too dirty. Contrary to what an earlier poster said, they are not great filters. True the polyps do feed by filter feeding, but they do so with many microscopic organisms. If the water is too turbid the corals die. An example of this is the Florida Keys.
5) Like all living things, they are susceptible to disease
6) Invasive species also can kill coral by destroying it or out competing it
Example. Algae grow much faster than coral in the same conditions. By taking up the nutrients the coral needs, the algae thrives (and isn't pretty) but the coral go away. Similarly some animals that are not native to areas (invasive species) disrupt the coral ecosystem by taking something in the checks and balances system out of gear

Another condition that leads to coral distruction ironically is ecotourism.
Many companies build luxury getaways nearby corals for people to go snorkeling or scuba diving near so they can observe the tropical fish. Ironically the pollution from these places makes the water turbid and kills the coral. Similarly, people are likely to damage the fragile coral by bumping into it while the ocean currents move their bodies around during their swim time. (This even happened to me in Belize while I was doing a survey of coral reef diversity two years ago - you go there to see how healthy it is and a wave knocks you into coral that took 30 years to grow and then it is bound to die. People without a knowledge of Marine Biology or a concern for conservation -like many spring breakers who go to these places - have a higher chance of this happening to them). One ecotourism place even built their location on an old mangrove swamp.

It is the mangrove swamp that is the primary filter for the tropical waters. (Along with the grassbeds). When they built on the murky soil, muddy slush escaped into the neighboring areas killing the coral polyps. Mangroves are also important in the lifecycle of tropical fish. Many juvenile fish begin their lives in the protection of the roots of the trees before they become adults and spend their life on the reef. Other fish go to these areas to breed. What happened is that the fish had their lifecycle disrupted. The tropical paradise hotel ended up having to ship in tropical fish to their resort.

Finally I will end on the tropical fish trade.
It is sad that after finding nemo came out (a movie whose moral basically says don't remove fish from their families) the tropical fish trade rose 10000%. (again this was two years ago). Enter any Rainforest cafe and you will see a greater diversity of tropical fish in a small tank than you might see during an entire week in their natural habitat. Worse off, they combine species from different parts of the world. The fish don't live long in captivity and they are unable to successfully reproduce since their lifecycle is interupted due to the lack of different environments that they are used to. The same is true for private trade in tropical fish. Even seaworld and aquariums have people taking fish from the reef every weekend. We don't have statistics on poaching which is also very previlent. At somepoint, we won't have these beautiful animals left anywhere - nonetheless in rainforest cafes. Take a good look while you can.

We have successfully eliminated a great deal from this planet, however I feel that the natural coral reef and its inhabitants will be the first complete biome to be eradicated - and I feel it will happen in my lifetime. This recent study just contributes to a steady downward trend that's been observed for nearly 50 years.

posted on Apr, 6 2006 @ 01:42 PM
475 million years.
Thats an estimate of how long coral has been on this Earth.
It would be a shame if they disappeared in such a short time.

But it makes me wonder..How did coral survive the many ancient climate changes of the past? Some of which were probably even more rapid, than current changes? Glacial expansion and retreat, meteor impacts, continental divisions, major volcanic episodes..How did they survive?

posted on Apr, 6 2006 @ 01:59 PM
They moved.
Well, when the corals reproduce their young ones drift about until they find a nice place to hang out for the rest of their 'hard' lives.

posted on Apr, 6 2006 @ 05:32 PM
Hey Toad

Thats exactly what I was getting at..
And thank you for that link..!

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