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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reefs collapse across Caribbean, study says

"There has been a massive collapse of coral reefs throughout the Caribbean, according to a joint project by researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.
The study has found that not only are reefs dying faster and on a wider scale than previously thought, but they are quickly crumbling after they die, in a process scientists call “reef flattening.”
The scale of the collapse is massive.
“Probably the most stark finding of our result is that this isn't just a flattening in one patch, one area the size of Vancouver, or even an area the size of British Columbia… the whole Caribbean has been flattened in the past decade, mainly as a result of climate change,” said Nicholas Dulvy of SFU's department of biological sciences. “There are no detectable complex reefs [left].”
The team of international researchers looked at nearly 40 years of data compiled in 500 surveys of 200 reefs, for the first time piecing together the big picture of what has been happening throughout the Caribbean, which is famous for its thousands of beautiful reefs, including one second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Dr. Dulvy said wherever they looked they saw signs of rapid and devastating decline. Reefs are dying and then collapsing on themselves, filling in the nooks and crannies that provide shelter for a myriad of species.
“We've lost 80 per cent of the living coral cover in the Caribbean over the last four decades. So that's a rate of loss that's far greater than the loss of deforestation of the Amazon rain forest. In fact, we're losing coral twice as fast as we're chopping down the Amazon rain forest,” Dr. Dulvy said."

To read the remainder of this article please go to this link:globe and mail

What are the implications of this finding? In 2006 the National Georgraphic society reported that in the U.S. Virgin Islands more than 90 percent of the coral suffered bleaching.Bleaching occurs when heat stress causes corals to expel their symbiotic, food-producing algae known as zooxanthellae, turning the reef's skeleton ghostly white.
While coral can recover from bleaching events, many weakened Caribbean reefs are now succumbing to a fatal coral disease known as white plague. Last fall (2005) marine biologists in Puerto Rico reported that 42 coral species on some reefs had bleached. source: National Geographic
In addition, "the loss of living coral reefs, which act as nurseries for countless fish and marine species, will adversely impact fisheries and biodiversity, stated Jeff Miller, a United States Government National Park Service fisheries biologist.
Sigh,if the reefs in the Caribbean are in this awful state, what about other coral reefs in other parts of the oceans? If the fish and marine species disappear this will affect the balance of nature in all of our oceans,and all of these precious forms of life may be lost forever!
It is ironic that while I was researching coral reef health I found a 1992 article by Rodney M. Fujita and Mark S. Epstein,of the Environmental Defense Fund, Thomas J. Goreau, of the Global Coral Reef Alliance and Kristina Gjerde, of Environmental Solutions International .
Dr. Rodney M.Fujita has a Ph.D and is by profession a Marine Ecologist, Epstein is a lawyer by profession and is the former Deputy Director and COO, for Physicans for Social Responsibilty. Dr. Thomas J. Goreau is both a biogeochemist and a marine biologist by profession, and is an expert in the field of biogeochemistry (which involves scientific study of the chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural environment (including the biosphere, the hydrosphere, the pedosphere, the atmosphere, and the lithosphere), and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space. The field focuses on chemical cycles which are either driven by or have an impact on biological activity. Particular emphasis is placed on the study of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles. Biogeochemistry is a systems science closely related to Systems ecology. (sources:, and Gjerde is High Seas Policy Advisor to the IUCN Global Marine Program. A lawyer with an extensive background in marine policy and law. Her focus is focusing "on high seas fisheries conservation and governance. The extended introduction, written by Gjerde and series editor David Freestone, concludes: "As demonstrated by the authors' contributions to this Special Issue, deep-water fisheries on the high sea expose a major gap in the global governance regime. Few regional fisheries management organizations have the legal competence to manage deep sea fish stocks, and those that do are not necessarily doing it well. Just as troubling, this situation exposes the weaknesses of the flag state regime in leaving the global community with few mechanisms to ensure respect for conservation and management standards by vessels fishing in the global commons.....Significant political pressure from global bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly and the Convention on Biological Diversity remains essential." (source:link)
In their article: "A Guide To Protecting Coral Reefs" Fujita, Epstein, Goreau, and Gjerde,
"coral reefs play an important role in sustaining biological diversity, global biogeochemical cycles, and the economies of many countries. Despite these values, many coral reefs around the world are being rapidly degraded.
The degradation and destruction of coral reefs have such varied sources and widespread environmental and economic impacts, and funding for conservation is so limited, that coral reef protection must be addressed not only at the local, but at the regional and global levels as well.
Local threats to coral reefs, such as sewage pollution, overfishing, and deforestation, must be addressed primarily by countries containing coral reefs, supplemented when appropriate by international financial and technical assistance. Regional problems, such as the transport of water and air pollution across national boundaries, must be addressed through regional legal instruments, again with international assistance to implement regional policies. Finally, the threats posed to coral reefs by global warming, ozone depletion, and international trade in coral reef organisms and natural products can only be reduced through international accords.
Indeed, truly comprehensive environmental protection must include long term environmental monitoring, integrated coastal management, effective marine sanctuaries, appropriate technologies for pollution prevention, and environmentally sensitive ways to utilize reef resources. These can only be implemented with substantial international economic and technical assistance. Thus, measures to ensure international assistance and cooperation in ameliorating the many threats to coral reefs must be included in all pertinent international agreements. The Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21, which were negotiated during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and signed in Rio de Janeiro, address this to some degree. However, firm commitments to alleviate environmental threats and implement environmentally sensitive development with new enforceable policies and funding are lacking.Because of their high rates of calcification, coral reefs play a major role in the global calcium cycle despite their limited areal extent, fixing about half of all the calcium entering the sea into calcium carbonate. The health of coral reefs is affected by the quality of surface waters, groundwater, and air for miles around. Pollutants migrate in coastal currents, air flow patterns, rivers, and underground aquifers. Activities throughout the airshed and watershed, including those which destroy or degrade mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, further threaten the integrity of reefs.
Why was this information which these experts outlined in 1992 not listened to by politicans, leaders of industry, and those responsible for seeing that the coral reefs and the life within the reefs in this World were protected from destruction?? If these experts had been listened to then the collapse of the Coral reefs in the Caribbean, might not have happened! Can we expect other coral reefs around the Globe to be near destruction as well due to inaction on the part of the Politicans and the Government and Industrial bureaucrats of this world?

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.