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The world's most important coral region is in danger of being wiped out.

The Coral Triangle, area between Indonesia and five other South East Asian nations, covers 1% of the earth's surface but contains a third of all the world's coral, and three-quarters of its coral reef species. 

More than 40% of coral reefs and mangroves in the Coral Triangle have already been lost.

Pollution and the inappropriate use of coastal areas are destroying the remaining coral. 

If the world's richest coral reef is destroyed, fish and other sources of food that people rely upon is gone. 

The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples for the future.

A meeting in Denmark in October 2009 reviewed evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place. 

Storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen is being suggested 

That will allow the coral to be reintroduced to the seas if humankind has a the future and the destruction of the oceans can be overcome. 

One important aspect of coral destruction is the storing of rising airborne carbon dioxide by the Oceans.
The world's most important coral region is in danger of being wiped out.
The Coral Triangle, area between Indonesia and five other South East Asian nations, covers 1% of the earth's surface but contains a third of all the world's coral, and three-quarters of its coral reef species.
More than 40% of coral reefs and mangroves in the Coral Triangle have already been lost.
Pollution and the inappropriate use of coastal areas are destroying the remaining coral.
If the world's richest coral reef is destroyed, fish and other sources of food that people rely upon is gone.
The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples for the future.
A meeting in Denmark in October 2009 reviewed evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place.
Storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen is being suggested
That will allow the coral to be reintroduced to the seas if humankind has a the future and the destruction of the oceans can be overcome.
One important aspect of coral destruction is the storing of rising airborne carbon dioxide by the Oceans.



Dead coral
Great Barrier Reef corals mostly dead by 2050, says Australian study
SYDNEY: The brightly-coloured corals that make Australia's Great Barrier Reef one of the world's natural wonders will be largely dead by 2050 because of rising sea temperatures.
Instead of the rich environment depicted in the recent movie Finding Nemo, the coral reef will be bleached out and replaced by ordinary seaweed, costing the tourism industry billion of dollars, the report into the impact of global warming says.
Authors Hans and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg — the head of Queensland University's marine studies centre and his economist father — spent two years examining the effects of rising sea temperature on the reef for Queensland tourism authorities and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
Their 350-page report found no prospect of avoiding the "chilling long-term eventualities" of coral bleaching because greenhouse gases were already warming the seas as part of a process that would take decades to stop.
"Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs by the middle of the century under even the most favourable assumptions," the report said.  "This is the only plausible conclusion if sea temperatures continue to rise."
Warmer sea waters make corals suffer thermal stress, eventually making them bleach and die.
The report said this could occur if temperatures increased by as little as one degree centigrade, well below the two to six degrees water temperatures around the reef are expected to rise by over the next century.
"There is no evidence that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise," it found.
Organisms reliant on coral would become rare or even face extinction, the report said.
It said the bleaching would cost the economy up to eight billion dollars (6.24 billion US) and 12,000 jobs by 2020 under the worst-case scenario.
Even under the best case scenario, about 6,000 jobs would be lost and tourists would be forced to visit "Great barrier Reef theme parks" offshore to view the remaining coral.
— AFP
Copyright © 2004 Agence France Presse.   All rights reserved.
 
Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd.   All Rights Reserved.
Acid waters, dissolving shellfish
New research shows fossil fuels pose a deadly threat to coral reefs and marine life.
Martin Mittelstaedt
29, July 2006
Until now, concern about rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been focused on global warming.   But scientists have discovered a second reason to worry: About half of the greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels — an amount weighing about the same as 140 billion Volkswagen Beetles — has ultimately ended up in the world's oceans.
While this has the beneficial effect of slowing down the rate at which the planet's atmosphere is heating up, ocean researchers have found that the huge influx of carbon dioxide since 1800 is making oceans more acidic than they have been for millions of years.
If not reversed, this trend could destabilize — or even threaten —much of the world's marine life, particularly animals that can't adapt to living in a more corrosive environment.
So far, the ocean's pH (the commonly used scale of whether something is acidic or alkaline) has become about 30 per cent more acidic over the past 200 years because humans have added so much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Scientists say this change has never occurred in the recent history of the planet — either in such a massive way, or so quickly.
Extraordinary
"The pH changes that are occurring in the ocean today are truly extraordinary," says Joan Kleypas, a scientist at the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and the lead author of a report issued this month that rang alarm bells about the trend.   "Unfortunately, this is not an environmental problem that we've had to deal with in the past, and so we really don't have a very good grasp of what this means for ocean biology."
Although experts don't yet have a thorough understanding of all the implications of a more acidic ocean, they do know it has scary potential for all creatures that secrete calcium carbonate to build shells or skeletons, including corals, starfish, snails and many microscopic varieties of plankton.
Should nothing be done to stop global warming, scientists predict that oceans could become acidic enough that the shells or skeletons of the most vulnerable marine animals may start to dissolve, possibly as early as 2050.
Coral reefs
This is a particular worry for coral reefs, which are viewed as the ocean's rain forests because of their amazing biological diversity.   "What we're finding is that [acidification] decreases their ability to build their skeletons," says Chris Langdon, a coral-reef expert at the University of Miami.   "We think this is important because one of the sure outcomes of this is going to be the loss of coral-reef framework around the world."
About 25 per cent of all ocean species spend at least part of their life cycle on reefs.   But in a more acidic ocean, corals will grow more slowly and become less dense — a process like osteoporosis in humans — and won't be able to grow fast enough to offset erosion from wave action.   Corals are also under threat of bleaching from rising water temperatures.
The reason that oceans are becoming acidic is that carbon dioxide is water-soluble and easily passes from the air into the sea.   Most of the carbon in the ocean is in the form of bicarbonate, a familiar ingredient in household baking soda.
Vinegar
What is happening in the oceans is the reverse of the common high-school experiment in which vinegar, an acid, is poured on baking soda to produce a fizzy mass of carbon dioxide air bubbles.   In this case, the ocean is holding the "baking soda," which is reacting with the influx of carbon dioxide to produce an acid.
Although there is intense debate about the impact that global warming will have on land, scientists say there is absolutely none about the alteration in ocean chemistry under way.
And the impacts from a more acidic ocean will not reverse quickly, either.   Even if all carbon dioxide emissions from human sources cease, experts believe it will take hundreds of thousands of years for ocean pH to return to normal levels.
Oceans at high latitudes, such as the Antarctic, Arctic and the Northern Pacific off of British Columbia, are more vulnerable to the trend than tropical oceans, and the Pacific Ocean is more vulnerable than the Atlantic.
Pacific absorbs more
This is because the Pacific has what is considered older water, or water that has been submerged longer in deep currents.  
This allows it to absorb more carbon dioxide from the decay of organic matter.   New concerns over ocean acidification will be flagged in the report expected next year from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body amassing all scientific knowledge on global warming.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.
Saturday February 21
Great Barrier Reef corals mostly dead by 2050
AFP Photo
The brightly-coloured corals that make Australia's Great Barrier Reef one of the world's natural wonders will be largely dead by 2050 because of rising sea temperatures, according to a report released Saturday.
Instead of the rich environment depicted in the recent movie Finding Nemo, the coral reef will be bleached out and replaced by ordinary seaweed, costing the tourism industry billion of dollars, the report into the impact of global warming says.
Authors Hans and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg — the head of Queensland University's marine studies centre and his economist father — spent two years examining the effects of rising sea temperature on the reef for Queensland tourism authorities and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
Their 350-page report found no prospect of avoiding the "chilling long-term eventualities" of coral bleaching because greenhouse gases were already warming the seas as part of a process it said would take decades to stop.
"Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs by the middle of the century under even the most favourable assumptions," the report said.   "This is the only plausible conclusion if sea temperatures continue to rise."
Warmer sea waters make corals suffer thermal stress, eventually making them bleach and die.
The report said this could occur if temperatures increased by as little as one degree centigrade, well below the two to six degrees water temperatures around the reef are expected to rise by over the next century.
"There is no evidence that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise," it found.
Organisms reliant on coral would become rare or even face extinction, the report said.
It said the bleaching would cost the economy up to eight billion dollars (6.24 billion US) and 12,000 jobs by 2020 under the worst-case scenario.
Even under the best case scenario, about 6,000 jobs would be lost and tourists would be forced to visit "Great Barrier Reef theme parks" offshore to view the remaining coral.
The reef covers more than 345,000 square kilometers (133,000 square miles) off Australia's northeast coast, making it the world's largest coral reef.
Consisting of 2,900 interlinked reefs, 900 islands and 1,500 fish species, scientists consider it the world's largest living organism.
Yet the delicate habitat faces numerous environmental threats, including chemical run off from farms, over-fishing, bleaching and the parasitic Crown-of-Thorns starfish, which attacks coral.
The government announced plans in December to reduce farm run off and ban fishing in about a third of the reef in a bid to protect Australia's number one tourist drawcard.
But the report's authors said the government needed to do more, recommending Canberra ratify the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gases and take the lead in emission reduction.
The WWF said urgent measures must be put in place to minimise reef damage and reduce greenhouse gases.
"The argument for instant action is undeniable," WWF said in a statement.   "Major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must occur now, not in five or ten years time.   This is likely to deliver major benefits to our societies both in the near-term and at times beyond 2050."

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.
Copyright © 2004 Yahoo! Inc.    All rights reserved.
Pollution of oceans triggers 'rise of slime'
Scientists describe reverse evolution as primeval species overtake advanced organisms
By Kenneth R. Weiss
July 30, 2006
MORETON BAY, Australia
The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour.
When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts.   Their lips blistered and peeled.   Their eyes burned and swelled shut.
Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars.
"At nighttime, you can feel them burning.   I tried everything to get rid of them.   Nothing worked."
Throats constricted
As the weed blanketed the bay over the past decade, it left fishing nets coated with a powdery residue.   When fishermen tried to shake it off the webbing, their throats constricted, leaving them gasping for air.
After one man bit a fishing line in two, his mouth and tongue swelled so badly that he couldn't eat solid food for a week.   Others made an even more painful mistake, neglecting to wash the residue from their hands before relieving themselves over the side of their boats.
For a time, embarrassment kept them from talking publicly about their condition.   When they finally did speak up, authorities dismissed their complaints — until a bucket of the hairy weed made it to the University of Queensland's marine botany lab.
Samples placed in a drying oven gave off fumes so strong that professors and students ran out of the building, choking and coughing.
Cyanobacteria
Scientist Judith O'Neil put a tiny sample under a microscope and peered at the long, black filaments.   Consulting a botanical reference, she identified the weed as a strain of cyanobacteria, an ancestor of modern-day bacteria and algae that flourished 2.7 billion years ago.
O'Neil, a biological oceanographer, was familiar with these ancient life forms but had never seen this kind before.   What was it doing in Moreton Bay?   Why was it so toxic?   Why was it growing so fast?
The venomous weed, known to scientists as Lyngbya majuscula, has appeared in at least a dozen other places around the globe.   It is one of many symptoms of a virulent pox on the world's oceans.
In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fjords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading.   Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked.
Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a pattern of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago.
Rise of slime
Jeremy B.C. Jackson, a marine ecologist and paleontologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says we are witnessing "the rise of slime."
For many years, it was assumed that the oceans were too vast for humanity to damage in any lasting way.   Even in modern times, when oil spills, chemical discharges and other industrial accidents heightened awareness of man's capacity to injure sea life, the damage was often regarded as temporary.
But over time, the accumulation of environmental pressures has altered the basic chemistry of the seas.
Overdosing oceans, destruction of wetlands, diminished natural buffers
Industrial society is overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients — the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorus compounds that curl out of smokestacks and tailpipes, wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes.   These pollutants feed excessive growth of harmful algae and bacteria.
At the same time, overfishing and destruction of wetlands have diminished the competing sea life and natural buffers that once held the microbes and weeds in check.
Evidence is surfacing around the globe.
Off the coast of Sweden each summer, blooms of cyanobacteria turn the Baltic Sea into a stinking, yellow-brown slush that residents call "rhubarb soup."

© 2006 by The Baltimore Sun.
Saturday 21.02.2004
Great Barrier Reef faces coral destruction
SYDNEY (Reuters) — Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose most of its coral cover by 2050 and, at worst, the world's largest coral system could collapse by 2100 because of global warming, a study says.
The study by Queensland University's Centre for Marine Studies, commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, said that the destruction of coral on the Great Barrier Reef was inevitable due to global warming, regardless of what actions were taken now.
"Under the worst-case scenario, coral populations will collapse by 2100 and the re-establishment of coral reefs will be highly unlikely over the following 200-500 years," said the report entitled "Implications of Climate Change for Australia's Great Barrier Reef".
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living reef formation stretching 2,000 km (1,300 miles) north to south along Australia's northeast coast.
"Only if global average temperature change is kept to below two degrees Celsius can the Reef have any chance of recovering from the predicted damage," the report said.
Coral has a narrow comfort zone and is highly stressed by a temperature rise of less than one degree Celsius.
Water temperature rises of less than one degree coincided with the world's worst recorded coral bleaching episode in 1988.   With bleaching, the warmer water forces out the algae that give coral its colour and, if all are lost, the coral dies and the reef will crumble.
In 1998, 16 percent of the world's coral died, with 46 percent of the Indian Ocean coral destroyed.
Scientists project water temperatures to rise this century by between two and six degrees Celsius.
"There is little to no evidence that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise," said the Australian report.
It said that by 2050 the Great Barrier Reef would annually experience stress levels higher than those witnessed in 1998 and, by 2100, stress levels globally for coral would be several times higher than 1998.
"Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs (in the Great Barrier Reef) by the middle of the century under even the most favourable assumptions," said the report.
"Reefs will not disappear but they will be devoid of coral and dominated by other less appealing species, such as seaweed."
The report said that over-fishing and pollution from coastal farms were also contributing to the destruction of coral on the Great Barrier Reef.
It estimated that destruction of the Reef's coral could end up costing the Australian economy A$8 billion (3.3 billion pounds) and more than
12,000 jobs by 2020.
Reuters
 
© Copyright swissinfo SRI
Swiss Radio International — an enterprise of SRG SSR idée suisse
Pollution of oceans triggers 'rise of slime'
Scientists describe reverse evolution as primeval species overtake advanced organisms
By Kenneth R. Weiss
July 30, 2006
MORETON BAY, Australia
On the southern coast of Maui, high tide leaves piles of green-brown algae that smell so foul that condominium owners have hired a tractor driver to scrape them off the beach every morning.
On Florida's Gulf Coast, residents complain that harmful algae blooms have become bigger, more frequent and longer-lasting.
Toxins from red tides have killed hundreds of sea mammals and caused emergency rooms to fill up with coastal residents suffering respiratory distress.
North of Venice, Italy, a sticky mixture of algae and bacteria collects on the Adriatic Sea in spring and summer.
It washes ashore, fouling beaches, or congeals into submerged blobs, some bigger than a person.
Organisms such as the fireweed have been around for eons.
They emerged from the primordial ooze and came to dominate ancient oceans that were mostly lifeless.
Over time, higher forms of life gained supremacy.
Jackson uses a homespun analogy to illustrate what is happening.   The world's 6 billion inhabitants, he says, have failed to follow a homeowner's rule of thumb: Be careful what you dump in the swimming pool, and make sure the filter is working.
Pushing oceans back to dawn of evolution
"We're pushing the oceans back to the dawn of evolution," Jackson said, "a half-billion years ago when the oceans were ruled by jellyfish and bacteria."
In Australia, fishermen began noticing the fireweed around the time much of Moreton Bay started turning a dirty, tea-water brown after every rain.   The wild growth smothered the bay's northern sea-grass beds, once abounding in fish and shellfish, under a blanket a yard thick.
After suffering painful skin lesions, fisherman Greg Savige took a sealed bag of the weed in 2000 to Barry Carbon, then director-general of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.   He warned Carbon to be careful with it.
Carbon replied that he knew all about cyanobacteria from western Australian waters and that there was nothing to worry about.
Then he opened the bag and held it to his nose.   "It was like smearing hot mustard on the lips," the chastened official recalled.
100 toxins
Each spring, Lyngbya bursts forth from spores on the seafloor and spreads in dark green-and-black tendrils.   It flourishes for months.   Scientists say it produces more than 100 toxins, probably as a defense mechanism.
At its peak in summer, the weed covers as much as 30 square miles of Moreton Bay, an estuary roughly the size of San Francisco Bay.
William Dennison, then director of the University of Queensland botany lab, couldn't believe it.   "We checked this 20 times.   It was mind-boggling.
It was like The Blob," Dennison said, recalling the 1950s horror movie about an alien life form that consumed everything in its path.
Blooms in sewage
Suspecting that nutrients from partially treated sewage might be the culprit, another Queensland University scientist, Peter Bell, collected some wastewater and put it in a beaker with a pinch of Lyngbya.   The weed bloomed happily.
As Brisbane and the surrounding area became the fastest-growing region in Australia, millions of gallons of partially treated sewage gushed from 30 wastewater treatment plants into the bay and its tributary rivers.
Officials upgraded the sewage plants to enable them to remove nitrogen from the wastewater, but it did not stop the growth of the infernal weed.
Forests of eucalyptus and native trees cleared for development
Researchers began looking for other sources of Lyngbya's nutrients, and are investigating whether iron and phosphorus are being freed from soil as forests of eucalyptus and other native trees are cleared for development.
"We know the human factor is responsible.   We just have to figure out what it is," Dennison said.
Lyngbya can pull nitrogen out of the air and make its own fertilizer.   It uses a different spectrum of sunlight than algae do, so it can thrive even in murky waters.   It can feed on itself.   When it dies and decays, it releases its nitrogen and phosphorus into the water, spurring another generation.
"Lyngbya has lots of tricks," said O'Neil.   "That's why it's been around for 3 billion years."
For some Moreton fisherman, the only solution is to turn away from the sea.
Lifelong fisherman Mike Tanner, 50, stays off the water at least four months each year to avoid contact with the weed.
"When he came home with rash all over his body, I said, 'No, you are not going,'" his wife, Sandra, recalled.
Before the Lyngbya outbreak, 40 commercial shrimp trawlers and crab boats worked these waters.   Now there are six, and several of them sit idle during fireweed blooms.
"It's the only thing that can beat us," Greg Savige said.   "Wind is nothing.   Waves, nothing.   It's the only thing that can make us stop work.   When you've got sores and the skin peels away, what are you going to do?"

© 2006 by The Baltimore Sun.
 
 
 
 
 
For archive purposes, this article is being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.