Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mangroves and the carbon cycle

Mangroves are "far more important" to the global biogeochemical cycle than previously thought, say Thorsten Dittmar and his colleagues.

Mangroves cover less than 0.1 percent of the land surface but account for a tenth of the dissolved organic carbon flowing from land to ocean.

The researchers "speculate that the rapid decline in mangrove extent threatens the delicate balance and may eventually shut off the important link between the land and ocean, with potential consequences for atmospheric composition and climate."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Is pollution causing regional coral extinctions?

"...factors such as global warming leading to coral bleaching are having significant impacts, but I think it's a mistake to blame all the devastation we've witnessed in past decades on global factors. Local nutrient pollution problems can be addressed and if we do that, I think it's clear that corals will strongly benefit."
Brian Lapointe, as quoted by Mark Schrope in Changes in reef latitude.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"New" Thai reef

"Initial rapid surveys have identified over 270 hectares of previously unknown, relatively healthy reefs with over 30 genera of hard corals, and at least 112 species of fish from 56 families" says WWF Thailand.

Tsunami impact report

The US State Department reports that the major findings of the 60 authors and contributors to Status of Coral Reefs in Tsunami Affected Countries 2005 include:
  • Damage to the coral reefs in the Indian Ocean was patchy, site dependent and heavily influenced by local environmental conditions;
  • Most of the coral reefs of the region escaped serious damage and will naturally recover within 5 to 10 years providing that effective management is implemented to reduce damage from human activities;
  • A small number of coral reefs were significantly damaged and may take 20 or more years to recover; and they may not return to the previous structure;
  • Most of the damage to coral reefs resulted from sediment and coral rubble thrown about by the waves, and smothering by debris washed off the land;
  • The coral reefs absorbed some of the tsunami energy, possibly providing some protection to the adjacent land, although mangroves and coastal forests afforded the most protection to infrastructure on the land and probably reduced the loss of life in these areas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Here's an extract from a post earlier today by Phil Dustan to the coral list:
I'd like to thank everyone for participating in the discussion about healthy reefs in the Florida Keys. I've gotten lots of response but no one can point to a healthy reef, because there are none left. And probably haven't been for a long time.

My point is that before we talk about resilience, maybe we can reach a true consensus that the reefs are a mere shadow of their past. By my calculations and measurements, the Keys have lost over 90% of their living coral since we began to study them in the 1960s and 70s. The Tortugas are in better shape, but are also losing vitality pretty fast too. This is shameful. All this time we have been talking about studies, monitoring, and awareness and the house has been in full flames right in front of our faces. Shame on everyone that wants to minimize this or, even worse, deny it.

(text continues in comment attached to this post)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Golf v. reef

"The epic stuggle between a tiny island and an American golf course developer" continues.

"Trial on the main issues" began on 13 Feb, according to Save Guana Cay Reef.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saba Bank Atoll

An underwater mountain with some of the richest diversity of marine life in the Caribbean has been found.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

GBR bleaching announcements "premature"

Tom Goreau writes:

As I suspected, the HotSpot in the Great Barrier Reef is now cooling, not intensifying or spreading, so the claims made by some that widespread bleaching is imminent were premature. The temperatures reached moderate bleaching conditions only in a small part of the southernmost GBR. As of now there seems to be no major regional bleaching threat to the GBR, although the warm season is not yet over, and it could get hot again in the coming month.

One reason for this mistaken prediction is that although NOAA dedicates a web site to the Goreau-Hayes HotSpot method, they do not cite any of the original publications that showed that such conditions must remain for a month. As a result many people see the maps of areas that are instantaneously at or above the threshold, and do not understand that they must wait for them to remain at that level for a month before saying bleaching is about to happen.

Even though most of the GBR may be lucky this year, the long term temperature trends for sites across the GBR and around the world, documented in the Global Coral Reef Alliance satellite sea surface temperature data base since 1982, are clearly upward, and serious bleaching is likely to recur, if not this year, within a few more years. It is worth noting that the long term monitoring program of the GBR shows that the average live coral cover is steadily declining, and is now only about 20%. A single major bleaching event could kill most of the remaining corals. But it will probably not be this year, unless there is a sharp rise in temperature in the next few weeks.

(see Hot polyps, 31 Jan)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Good news for Green Turtles?

Fred Pearce reports Annette Broderick at Exeter University as saying that Green Turtles are not endangered at all:
In fact there are over 2 million green turtles alive today, and their numbers are rising.

...Nicolas Pilcher, director of the marine research foundation in Sabah, Malaysia, who chaired the listing process, agrees that Broderick has a point. "We are reviewing this and we think regional listings sometimes make more sense."
2006 is International Year of the Turtle (you mean you didn't know?), and it's nice to have what looks like some good news amidst the gloom.

Rumours of the global demise of Greens may be exaggerated, but just because this species may be bouncing back in the Atlantic doesn't mean they're doing OK elsewhere. And other turtle species are in big trouble.

Pillow man

London media catch up with projects to shade corals from the sun and reduce bleaching .

It may be far from nuts, but I can't help remembering talk of giving sunglasses to sheep in New Zealand to protect them from the hole in the ozone layer.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thai boxing, zodiacs, dugongs and...

You can buy a lot of kitsch for 28 million baht (more)

Bombing in Tanzania

On 30 January a member of the Tange Dynamite Fishing Monitoring Network wrote to members of the international marine conservation community with an interest in Tanzania to ask people to get the message out that Kigombe coral reefs "need immediate action to protect them from a renewed spate of heavy bombing":

"We had two more agonising days of massive dynamiting of Kigombe reefs to be reported again, and we are certain that these blasts will continue daily this week when we have spring tides that are so favoured by the dynamiters...

...to make matters worse, there is no patrol boat stationed at Kigombe anymore, the worst affected (or best monitored) area. Kigombe villagers and staff of the Tanga Yacht Club were heard commenting on the very strange coincidence that the Kigombe boat was taken to Tanga 'for unknown reasons' one day before it was stolen from TYC anchorage, together with another patroal boat of the Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation and Development Project".

A dynamite fishing monitoring record sheet is being kept.