Posted on April 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
As early as 2012, scientists documented how oil and oil dispersants damaged communities of deep sea coral in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy Lophelia II 2010, NOAA OER and BOEMR.
‘It doesn’t take as much dispersant to kill a coral as it does oil’
FRISCO — New laboratory studies on the use of oil dispersants during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill show that the dispersant is more toxic to coldwater corals than the spilled oil.
The findings, published near the fifth anniversary of the spill, may help agencies developing future strategies for applying dispersants at oil spills that are more helpful than harmful to the environment, according to the scientists from Temple University and Penn State University. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, corals, Deepwater horizon oil spill, oil spill dispersants | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 8, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A section of the Great Barrier Reef photographed from the International Space Station.
Australian scientists offer common-sense plan to restore coral reef ecosystem
FRISCO — After a 40-year span when the Great Barrier Reef lost half its coral cover, and with global warming looming for the future, Australian scientists say fundamental changes are needed to protect the reef.
Better policies focusing on science, protection and conservation are the key, a team of leading researchers wrote this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, arguing that all the stressors on the Reef need to be reduced for it to recover. Continue reading
Filed under: coral reefs, Environment, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: Australia, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, Great Barrier Reef | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
More information equals more conservation options
FRISCO — After issuing a general warning about the potential for widespread coral reef bleaching this year, federal scientists now say they have the ability to make more detailed projections about the timing and geographic distribution of such events.
The concerns this summer focus around emerging El Niño conditions, which could overheat parts of the world’s oceans that have already been hovering at near-record temperatures. Most coral reefs in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, but if scientists can pinpoint the timing, it gives them more conservation options. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, coral reefs, El Niño, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: Caribbean, climate change, coral reef bleaching, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 16, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Effort could boost genetic diversity of rare species
Pillar coral in the Caribbean. Photo courtesy Mark Vermeij.
Closeup of pillar coral tentacles. Photo courtesy Kristen Marhaver.
FRISCO — With the global warming clock ticking, scientists working on coral reef conservation say they’ve been able to raise a rare pillar corals in a lab.
The project provides the first photos and documentation of juveniles of this species, and could provide information to help bolster local coral reef conservation, according to the study published in the open access journal BMC Ecology.
The scientist also plan to ‘out-plant’ these lab-grown juveniles in the wild which could help populations become more resilient to climate change. Small juveniles of this species have never been seen in over 30 years of surveys in the Caribbean. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Caribbean, climate change, coral reef conservation, coral reefs, pillar coral | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘The clock is ticking …’
Caribbean corals are under the gun from global warming and local threats.
Can elkhorn coral be saved?
FRISCO — Federal scientists say it may be possible to save the fantastic undersea gardens of elkhorn and staghorn corals, but continuing increases of heat-trapping greenhouse gases will impede that recovery.
The findings are outlined in a recovery plan for the corals, which were put on the Endangered Species List in 2006 after a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, endangered species, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: climate change, coral reef recovery, coral reefs, elkhorn coral, endangered species, global warming, staghorn coral | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Elkhorn coral in the Caribbean Sea. Photo via NOAA.
‘Our data show that climate change has helped drive down staghorn and elkhorn corals …’
FRISCO — Elkhorn and staghorn corals, once widespread across the Caribbean, have all but disappeared from the region, and scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology think they know why — ocean warming has been a big factor in the die-off, making the corals more susceptible to white-band disease.
“Our data show that climate change has helped drive down staghorn and elkhorn corals by boosting white-band disease,” said Florida Tech Ph.D. student Carly Randall. “We still don’t know if the disease is caused by a marine microbe, but now we do know that changes in the environment contributed to the problem.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Caribbean, coral reefs, elkhorn coral, global warming, staghorn coral, white-band disease | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A satellite view of the Great Barrier Reef, via NOAA.
Plastic micro-pollution adds insult to injury for stressed coral reefs
FRISCO — Widespread micro-plastic pollution may take a toll on the famed Great Barrier Reef, scientists said this week after discovering that coral organisms will ingest the tiny plastic particles.
“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” said Dr, Mia Hoogenboom, a researchers with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Hoogenboom added. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, biodiversity, coral reefs | Tagged: Environment, coral reefs, oceans, micro-plastic pollution | 1 Comment »