by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Nov 28, 2017
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in peril from climate change and widespread bleaching, but scientists said Tuesday a small portion may be resilient enough to keep much of the rest alive.
About three percent of the World Heritage site -- home to the planet's largest collection of coral reefs with 3,800 in all -- has so far emerged relatively unscathed from a host of threats, from warming waters to pollution to bleaching and disease, said the report in the journal PLOS Biology.
If properly protected, these cool-water reefs could supply larvae to nearly half (45 percent) of the entire ecosystem in a single year, it said.
"Finding these 100 reefs is a little like revealing the cardiovascular system of the Great Barrier Reef," said the study's lead author Peter Mumby, professor at the University of Queensland.
Unlike many other parts of the reef, these 100 are not being eaten up by crown-of-thorns starfish predators.
They are also located in areas that enable them to send coral larvae along ocean currents, reaching a large number of reefs.
"The presence of these well-connected reefs on the Great Barrier Reef means that the whole system of coral reefs possesses a level of resilience that may help it bounce back from disturbances," said lead author Karlo Hock of the University of Queensland.
"Unfortunately, these findings by no means suggest that the Great Barrier Reef corals are safe and in great condition, and that there are no reasons for concern," he added.
"Indeed, the fact that the study only identified around a hundred of these reefs across the entire 1,400 mile (2,300 kilometer) length of the massive Great Barrier Reef emphasizes the need for both effective local protection of critical locations and reduction of carbon emissions in order to support this majestic ecosystem."
The Great Barrier Reef has undergone unprecedented bleaching for the past two years, devastating more than two-thirds of the reef, experts say.
Many efforts are under way to save the iconic reefs, including one project to transplant larvae into damaged areas of the reef where the natural supply of coral larvae has been reduced or erased.
Scientists announced Monday this approach has shown some success in growing new juvenile coral, eight months after it began.
Corals may look like plants or rocks but they are actually animals. They feed on algae, and "bleach" -- turning bone-white -- when they are stressed by environmental changes, such as ocean warming or pollution.
Coral reefs make up less than one percent of Earth's marine environment, but are home to an estimated 25 percent of ocean life, acting as nurseries for many species of fish.
Sydney (AFP) Nov 26, 2017
Coral bred in one part of the Great Barrier Reef was successfully transplanted into another area, Australian scientists said Sunday, in a project they hope could restore damaged ecosystems around the world. In a trial at the reef's Heron Island off Australia's east coast, the researchers collected large amount of coral spawn and eggs late last year, grew them into larvae and then transplante ... read more
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|