Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Starfish-eating coral and coral bleaching are among the reasons as to why

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years. The world's largest coral reef ecosystem has been in steep decline due to various ecological factors, both natural and man-made.

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years.

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/2/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Australia, Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching, hurricanes, starfish


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Coral reef ecologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science Katharina Fabricius says he she has been diving and working on the reef since 1988. She has watched the reef's tragic decline.  

"I hear of the changes anecdotally, but this is the first long-term look at the overall status of the reef. There are still a lot of fish, and you can see giant clams, but not the same color and diversity as in the past," she says.

Fabricius and her colleagues surveyed 214 different reefs around the Great Barrier Reef and compiled information from 2,258 surveys to determine the rate of decline between 1985 and 2012. With the overall 50 percent decline, the scientists estimate that the reef is losing about 3.4 percent of itself annually.  

The relatively pristine northern region, however, has shown no decline over the past two decades.

The reef's decline is attributed to several factors. The biggest factors are smashing from tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish that eat coral and are boosted by nutrient runoff from agriculture and coral bleaching from high-temperatures, which are rising due to climate change.  

Coral bleaching is the process in which ocean temperatures rise and cause the corals to expel their zooxanthellae - the tiny photosynthetic algae that live in the coral's tissues.

"This is a really grim wake-up call," John Bruno says a biologist at UNC Chapel Hill. "The GBR [Great Barrier Reef], which only 10 years ago was considered the world's most pristine and resilient coral reef is clearly not better off and no less threatened than any other reef. I am bullish on the long-term survival of reefs, but science like this is challenging that outlook."

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions are essential in order to maintain the reef. "International efforts to cap and reduce CO2 emissions are equally critical and must occur at the same time as cleaning up local impacts," Les Kaufman, a biologist at Boston University says.

Fabricius says not much can be done in the short term about the climate-change-driven frequency of cyclones - five category 5 storms in the past seven years have pounded the reefs - or high temperatures. There are efforts underway to stem the damage from starfish, which can grow up to 3 feet in diameter and sport long venomous spines and 21 arms. Young starfish feed on coral-making algae, leaving behind the coral's skeleton.

One project encourages farmers to adopt practices that limit the amount of nutrient-rich runoff draining into reef areas. Another would allow tour operators to manually remove starfish from tourist areas, which Fabricius admits isn't a solution, just a temporary fix.

Inaction is not an option at this point. "The problem is entirely soluble, and coral reefs can be saved through concerted effort over this and the following two or three generations," said Kaufman. "There is absolutely no excuse for failure to do this, and if we do fail our generation will forever be remembered for unimaginable, unforgivable stupidity and sloth."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Green

Is Yellowstone's supervolcano ready to blow? Scientists find thousands of cubic miles of magma under volcano Watch

Image of Thousands of cubic miles of magma exists under Yellowstone national park that has only recently been discovered and mapped.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists have completed mapping out a new reservoir of magma underneath Yellowstone's massive supervolcano. The magma was found about 12 to 28 miles beneath the surface of the volcano and with computer mapping technology scientists have determined that it is ... continue reading


New discovery on mysterious vampire squid shocks scientists Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of species we have successfully discovered throughout history are only about a fifth of the speculated total number of them coexisting with us. In a recent discovery, it was found that the vampire squid has distinct difference from the true squid we know of. ... continue reading


'Apocalyptic' dust storms leave experts speechless, causes remain unclear Watch

Image of The phenomenon has occurred over decades in the past, according to a European scientist.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unexplained phenomena of strong dust storms are sweeping cities all over the globe, blocking the sun and darkening the day. The massive dust storms, known as haboob in Arabic, begun polluting some parts of the world at the beginning of the year. Theories surfaced as ... continue reading


What NASA found on Mars will shock you! Watch

Image of Liquid water has been found in Martian soil, but that doesn't mean life is likely to be found.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is liquid water on Mars, Nasa has announced following tests done by the Curiosity rover. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This news contradicts decades of thought that Earth's neighbor was too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, and may mean that ... continue reading


Experts fear massive asteroid will hit Earth in next 3 years Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A huge asteroid, with an estimated size of 10 to 40m, is expected to come in contact with Earth, closer than it did the last time. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Asteroid 2012 TC4 was approximated at about the size of the Statue of Liberty from the torch ... continue reading


Gray whale swims from Russia to Mexico in 172 days, breaking all known records Watch

Image of Before Vavara's accomplishment, the title of the longest-migrating mammal belonged to the humpback whale.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A female western gray whale from Russia now holds the record as the mammal with the longest known migration, researchers say. Named Vavara, which is the Russian equivalent fro "Barbara," the plucky whale swam a total of 13,988 miles in 172 days. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Are farmers stealing precious water away from California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta? Watch

Image of As California enters the fourth year of drought, huge amounts of water are mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and farmers whose families for generations have tilled fertile soil there are the prime suspects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Entering its fourth year of drought, large amounts of water is mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Farmers who have used the delta for generations are the prime suspects. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Complaints from two large ... continue reading


Small songbirds complete extraordinary nonstop flights across the Atlantic Ocean Watch

Image of The blackpoll warbler songbirds (Setophaga striata) migrate every autumn from Vermont and Nova Scotia in New England to Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles islands in South America.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Using backpack flight recorders, scientists have discovered that the blackpoll warbler songbirds are able fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. These tiny songbirds, weighing about 4.2 ounces (119 grams), were able to complete the flight without a stop for over 1,410 ... continue reading


Ancient salamander, thought to have roamed Earth 170 million years ago found by Chinese ranger Watch

Image of After keeping it in a temporary tank, Xiao released the creature back into the river, watched by a crowd of tourists.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A park ranger in south China named only as "Mr. Xiao" has caught an enormous Chinese salamander. It is acknowledged as the world's largest living amphibian and is known as the "Living Fossil," as it has remained unchanged for 170 million years. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Scientists discover annoying foam packing peanuts can now be used for something other than trash Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Foam peanuts that constantly clutter your room and fill up the trash, after a package arrives, could actually be useful. This new discovery, presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), was researched by a team from ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Peter 5:5-14
5 In the same way, younger people, be subject to the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 16:15-20
15 And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 25th, 2015 Image

St. Mark
April 25: The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter