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Seabed dredging linked to coral reef disease

Study findings to help inform coastal management

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Dredging near coral reefs can lead to chronic disease and decline.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with the stress of global warming and the disappearance of reef-grazing fish, corals are also beset by the increasing pace of coastal development — specifically dredging — which can increase the frequency of diseases affecting corals.

Australian researchers with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies made their findings after studying a site near Barrow Island, off the West Australian coast, where an 18-month, 7-million cubic metre dredging project took place, developing a channel to accommodate ships transporting liquefied gas to a nearby processing plant. The site was in otherwise very good condition. Continue reading

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Better planning needed to protect ocean resources

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Zoning coastal waters could help preserve marine resources for future generations. bberwyn photo.

Scientists call for ‘zoning’ of coastal waters

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Piecemeal planning and conservation efforts won’t be enough to preserve valuable ocean resources for future generations, a leading group of environmental and marine scientists said last week, calling on countries around the world to cooperate on zoning coastal waters in an approach that would mirror common land-use planning efforts.

Effective long-term conservation is crucial because about 20 percent of the world’s population  — mostly in developing countries — lives within 60 miles of the coast. Growing populations and worsening climate change impacts ensure that pressures on tropical coastal waters will only grow, they warned. Continue reading

Study: Coral reef restoration can help protect coastal dwellers from rising storm surges

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Coral reef are gardens of biodiversity and also provide valuable services for coastal populations.

Research quantifies benefits of reef conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Coral reefs have long been recognized as important cradles of ocean biodiversity, but they also help protect coastal populations from the brunt of storms. A new study claims that reefs reduce wave energy that would otherwise impact coastlines by 97 percent.

“Coral reefs serve as an effective first line of defense to incoming waves, storms and rising seas,” said Dr. Michael Beck, lead marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy and a co-author of the study, “200 million people across more than 80 nations are at risk if coral reefs are not protected and restored.” Continue reading

Common sunscreen compound mutates corals

A coral reef at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy Jim Maragos/USFWS.

A coral reef at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy Jim Maragos/USFWS.

Consumers should choose products carefully

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — All that sunscreen you slather on at the beach may help you prevent sunburn, but it’s not, as long suspected, the best for coral reefs. Turns out that a chemical used in many sunscreens, along with soap, cosmetics and body fragrances, is highly toxic to corals.

Research by scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science shows that even very low concentrations of benzophenone-2, or BP-2, can quickly kill juvenile corals. The additive has been used in personal-care products since the 1960s to protect against the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. Continue reading

Study finds serious pollution in seabottom sediments of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico

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Trouble at the bottom of the Caribbean, as researchers document high concentrations of toxics in sediments.

Toxins may be harming coral reef ecosystems

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Standing along the shore of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico, the dazzling aquamarine Caribbean waters look normal. But deep below the surface, there may be trouble brewing, according to researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pollutants measured in the sediments of the bay are among the highest ever measured by NOAA’s National Status & Trends, a nationwide contaminant monitoring program that began in 1986. The pollutants include PCBs, chlordane, chromium and nickel, according to the new NOAA study. Continue reading

Deep ocean ecosystems not shielded from global warming impacts

New study says ‘trickle-down’ impacts likely to have profound effect on seafloor organisms 

A Patagonian toothfish, sometimes sold in stores as Chilean sea bass. Photo by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Fish dwelling deep in the ocean will also feel the impacts of global warming, according to a new study by scientists with the National Oceanography Centre. Photo by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Warming ocean temperatures will have a cascading effect reaching even the deepest parts of the ocean, researchers with the UK’s National Oceanography Centre warned in a new paper published in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

Their study quantifies future losses in deep-sea marine life, finding that marine life on the ocean floor will decline by up to 38 percent in the North Atlantic and by more than 5 per cent globally during the next century.

These changes will be driven by a reduction in the plants and animals that live at the surface of the oceans that feed deep-sea communities. As a result, ecosystem services such as fishing will be threatened. Continue reading

Climate a huge factor in endangered species managment

New research helps narrow range of outcomes for resource managers

Dolphins off the coast of Florida have been exposed to more mercury than captive dolphins fed a controlled diet. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

New research shows how global warming may affect aquatic species. bberwyn photo.

Staff report

FRISCO — The ecological playing field has changed dramatically since the Endangered Species Act was passed 40 years ago. Along with continued environmental threats like pollution and habitat loss, global warming has emerged as a huge factor in the survival of numerous species.

Resource managers and scientists are still grappling with how warmer temperatures will affect ecosystems, but the range of possible outcomes is starting to become more clear. This month, federal fisheries scientists published a series of papers outlining several scenarios for the coming decades, including case studies for species ranging from chinook salmon to steelhead to 82 different types of coral. Continue reading

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