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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

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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

Coral reefs can recover from pollution impacts

A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. PHOTO BY CAROLINE ROGERS/USGS.

A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by Caroline Rogers/USGS.

‘We’re desperately trying to save what’s left, and cleaning up the water may be one mechanism that has the most promise …’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By setting up a long-term, controlled exposure experiment in Florida, researchers were able to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.

The three-year study, confirmed what scientists have long suspected — pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff and other land-based sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.

The results showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled. However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time. Continue reading

Are reef fish slowing down as oceans warm up?

Australian study finds warmer ocean temps may be causing problems for coral trout and other large reef fish

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Coral trout may be slowing down as their ocean habitat warms. Photo courtesy Richard Ling, via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Warmer water temperatures in the southeastern Pacific Ocean are taking a toll on coral trout, according to a new study from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

Fish rely on swimming for almost all activities necessary for survival, including hunting for food and finding mates, said Dr, Jacob Johansen, explaining that their research found that global warming may reduce the swimming ability of many fish species, and “have major impacts on their ability to grow and reproduce.” Continue reading

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