Posted on June 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A pteropod shell damaged by corrosive water. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.
Work group to discuss possible new water quality standards that would help assess acidification threats
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA is taking a step toward tackling the issue of ocean acidification, which is leading toward a huge marine biodiversity catastrophe. The agency recently said it will task a panel of scientists to discuss a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity that requests new water quality standards to enable better detection and monitoring of acidification.
Some of the carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere is finding its way to the seas, where it’s changing the basic chemistry of the water and starting to have an impact on corals, shelfish and other marine organisms. One recent study showed exactly how ocean acidification is dissolving the shells of tiny sea snails in the Southern Ocean.
The federal government also has an interagency working group, with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies working on the issue. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, climate change, EPA, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, greenhouse gases, marine biology, ocean acidification, ocean conservation | 3 Comments »
Posted on November 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Australian study shows how branching corals suddenly declined and failed to recover during Queensland settlement and development era
Acropora coral at French Frigate Shoals, northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Marine scientists have long been tracking the impacts of human activities to coral reefs, finding overfishing, logging and agricultural runoff all have negative effects. In a new Australian study, researchers linked a widespread coral collapse in the Great Barrier Reef with a wave of settlement and development in Queensland.
Cores taken through the coral reef at Pelorus Island confirm a healthy community of branching Acropora corals flourished for centuries before European settlement of the area, despite frequent floods and cyclone events. Then, between 1920 and 1955, the branching Acropora failed to recover. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Acropora, biodiversity, coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Pelorus Island, Queensland | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Outbreaks of the coral eating crown of thorns starfish have been responsible for 42 percent of the over 50 percent decline in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef between 1985 and 2012. Photo courtesy Katharina Fabricius, Australian Institute of Marine Science.
Multiple short-interval disturbances causing long-term decline, with southern areas hit hardest
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Australian researchers say the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 27 years, with more impacts expected as the climate warms in coming decades. About half (46 percent) of the loss was from storm damage, with another 42 percent attributed to crown of thorns starfish and 10 percent lost to bleaching.
“We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish. If we can, then the reef will have more opportunity to adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, says John Gunn, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Australian Institute of Marine Science, biodiversity, climate, climate change, Coral bleaching, coral reefs, crown of thorns starfish, global warming, Great Barrier Reef | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Fracking near the Great Barrier Reef? Say it ain’t so …
Environmental groups sue to block financing plans by U.S. Export-Import Bank
By Summit Voice
Conservation activists are suing to block the U.S. Export-Import Bank to finance a natural gas operation near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The groups claim the plan violates the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, which implements U.S. obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
The legal challenge is an effort to bock nearly $3 billion in financing for two massive liquefied natural gas facilities that could threaten dugongs, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles and numerous other protected marine species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, energy, Environment, gas drilling | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, energy, Environment, Export-Import Bank of the United States, fracking, Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage Site | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Floating rafts of pumice attract all sorts of marine life as they float across the South Pacific.
New study suggests floating rafts of pumice could help replenish reefs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Pumice from volcanic explosions may play a previously unknown role in the formation of coral reefs, according to researchers with the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
Dr. Scott Bryan, a geologist at the university, led a recent study of westward flowing rafts of pumice after volcanic eruptions in Tonga in 2001 and 2006, finding that plants and tiny animals — including corals — latched onto pumice as it was swept by ocean currents towards north eastern Australia.
“The pumice raft created after the 2006 Home Reef volcano erupted in Tonga initially formed at least a 440-square-kilometer floating mass,” Bryan said. “This mass slowly broke up into streaks and millions to billions of marine organisms such as cyanobacteria, barnacles, molluscs, corals, anemones, and crabs began hitching a ride.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: Australia, coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Pumice raft, Queensland University of Technology, South Pacific, volcanoes | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite images shows dust streaking off the Sahara and across the Atlantic. The dust may be a factor in Caribbean coral reef decline.
Saharan dust storms may be a factor in Caribbean reef health
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Coral reefs in the Caribbean have declined much faster than their counterparts in the Indo-Pacific region, and scientists know think they know at least part of the reason — seaweed.
Seaweed grows much more prolifically in the Caribbean, possibly because of the iron-rich dusts that blow off the Sahara and are carried across the Atlantic by the Trade Winds.
Along with fending off the stresses of global warming, pollution and overfishing, the Caribbean reefs have to deal with more of the aquatic vegetation.
As a result, coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Caribbean, coral reefs, Environment, Great Barrier Reef, Indo-Pacific, oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
NOAA is able to detect coral reef bleaching with high resolution satellite images.
International reef symposium in Australia highlights latest research
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not easy these days being an optimist if you’re a coral reef researcher. Most recent studies suggest that ever-warmer and increasingly acidified oceans represent a death-spiral for many beloved reef ecosystems, with significant signs of decline already observed in the Caribbean and other ocean regions.
But some of the world’s leading marine scientists, gathered in Cairns, Australia for a quadrennial international reef symposium think there’s a good chance to preserve at least some important reefs — if we act now.
That could be critical not just for the reef ecosystems themselves, but for the 81 nations and 500 million people who depend on them.
“I’m an optimist – you have to be, to devote your life to this field,” said Dr. John Pandolfi, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and University of Queensland. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, Caribbean, coral reefs, global warming, Great Barrier Reef | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A healthy coral reef at St, Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo courtesy NOAA.
Leading marine researchers highlight global warming threats
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Coral reefs are such a fundamental link in marine ecosystems that their loss causes ecological ripples felt far beyond immediate coastal areas.
The current widespread decline of reefs around the world — exacerbated by global warming — is huge cause for concern, according to 2,600 of the world’s top marine researchers gathered this week in Australia for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium.
To try and draw more attention to the plight of coral reefs, the scientists released a Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs, calling for a worldwide effort to overcome growing threats to coral ecosystems and to the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on them. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, climate change, coral reefs, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, Hopkins Marine Station, International Society for Reef Studies | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 18, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A sweet lip takes shelter under a manmade structure in an Australian reef. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES KERRY.
Australian study sheds light on possible climate change impacts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY— New studies from Australian researchers show that big reef fish like coral trout, snappers and sweetlips have clear preferences when it comes to choosing places to hang out.
The choices big fish make on where to shelter could have a major influence on their ability to cope with climate change, according to scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
In research aimed at understanding the process of fish population decline when coral reefs sustain major damage, PhD student James Kerry and Professor David Bellwood have found that big fish show a marked preference for sheltering under large, flat table corals, as opposed to branching corals or massive corals (known as bommies). Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming, Summit County news | Tagged: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, climate change, coral reefs, Great Barrier Reef, James Cook University, Lizard Island National Park, reef fish | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Coral Sea preserve could be vital regional biodiversity reservoir
The Coral Sea preserve could be an important refuge for sea turtles. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —Two leading scientists are urging Australians to support a government plan to create one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries in the Coral Sea.
“The Coral Sea is one of a handful of places in the world where a very large oceanic no-take park can be created and monitored in a single national jurisdiction,” said Professors Terry Hughes and Bob Pressey of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. “Public comment on the proposal is now open – and it is time for all Australians to have their say.”
Details of the Commonwealth’s Coral Sea Marine Park proposal are available at http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/coralsea/ Public comment closes on February 24, 2012. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, Summit County news | Tagged: Australia, biodiversity, Coral reef, Coral Sea, Environment, Great Barrier Reef | 1 Comment »