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 July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Green

World must address climate change or 'condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair,' Obama says Watch

Image of Obama recently gave final approval to Shell Oil's drilling in the Alaskan Arctic for the first time in 20 years. Environmentalists have called down Obama for hypocrisy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President Barack Obama called upon world to act quickly on climate change or "condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair." The president used unusually strong language at the "GLACIER" conference in Anchorage, ... continue reading


Nearly all seabird species expected to have guts full of plastic by 2050 Watch

Image of A bird with plastic netting wrapped around its neck.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recently published study stated by 2050, nearly every seabird species is predicted to have plastic debris ingested into their systems. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Senior research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research ... continue reading


NASA captures space 'butterfly' with Hubble Space Telescope Watch

Image of  Hubble Scope's new image of Minkowski's Butterfly, a Butterfly Nebula.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A butterfly nebula recently beamed back via NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. NASA reports the phenomenon is the result of good luck, dust, a dying star and a smaller star. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) -NASA explained that the occurrence had to do with ... continue reading


OMINOUS DEVELOPMENT: Massive chunk breaks off world's fastest melting glacier Watch

Image of It comes as ominous news to coastal cities and nations around the world vulnerable to sudden sea level rise . the world's fastest melting glacier had a massive chunk break off in over two days, setting an unwelcome record.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It comes as ominous news to coastal cities and nations around the world vulnerable to sudden sea level rise as the world's fastest melting glacier had a massive chunk break off in over two days, setting an unwelcome record. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


First for insect kingdom: Ants able to 'self-medicate' when unwell Watch

Image of It was also learned that the infected ants would also either choose to eat the poison as often as normal food, or only a quarter of the time, showing that the ants were

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The common ant is typically thought of as being an example of the "hive mind" - acting in concert with their respective colonies, without free will. Researchers have now learned that ants are able to feel when they are sick or unwell - and self-medicate themselves. LOS ... continue reading


WORLD-WIDE POWER OUTAGE: Is a massive solar flare in our near future? Watch

Image of [Photo by: Solar Flare/BENSOW]

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world is highly dependent on electricity, even more so now than ever before. A massive solar storm can leave the Earth in bad shape and cause a global-scale of darkness. We must always be ready for such an event to prevent further panic and havoc. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


World's oldest 'first flower' discovered in Spain's mountainous regions Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An ancient plant fossil, of what could be claimed as the world's oldest flowering plant, was unearthed in Spain. According to a new study in the online journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the plant, which is approximately 125 million to 130 ... continue reading


Biggest oarfish EVER: Latest specimen washed ashore on Catalina Island was at least 24 feet long Watch

Image of Oarfish washed up onshore on California's coasts in recent years are believed to have been sick, disoriented because of a storm or even responding to underwater seismic activity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Oarfish, deep-sea denizens, have been washing up on the resort island of Catalina Island with surprising frequency. Oarfish washed up there June of 2013 - and now, a dead oarfish full of krill washed up there again on Monday. Experts say the more recent ... continue reading


Three African nations will be among the 10 most densely populated in 2050, report says Watch

Image of Many African countries will be rising in the ranks over the next 30 years due to life-extending medical advances. The study finds that most national populations will double in 40 countries, chiefly African.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Washington-based Population Reference Bureau has recently published a projected study of what the most populous nations in the world will be in the year 2050. Because of high fertility rates and improved life expectancy, three African nations - Nigeria, ... continue reading


NASA tests 'Ferrari of rocket engines' set to launch astronauts to Mars Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The RS-25, for a trip to Mars, has been tested by NASA. According to reports, the engine was more powerful than the top technology we currently use in automobile and jet industries. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - CNET.com reported that the RS-25 engine is ... 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, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skšnninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... 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