Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/2/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Starfish-eating coral and coral bleaching are among the reasons as to why

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years. The world's largest coral reef ecosystem has been in steep decline due to various ecological factors, both natural and man-made.

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years.

A treasure trove of rare marine life and activity, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has gradually shrunk to half of its former size over the past 27 years.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/2/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Australia, Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching, hurricanes, starfish


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Coral reef ecologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science Katharina Fabricius says he she has been diving and working on the reef since 1988. She has watched the reef's tragic decline.  

"I hear of the changes anecdotally, but this is the first long-term look at the overall status of the reef. There are still a lot of fish, and you can see giant clams, but not the same color and diversity as in the past," she says.

Fabricius and her colleagues surveyed 214 different reefs around the Great Barrier Reef and compiled information from 2,258 surveys to determine the rate of decline between 1985 and 2012. With the overall 50 percent decline, the scientists estimate that the reef is losing about 3.4 percent of itself annually.  

The relatively pristine northern region, however, has shown no decline over the past two decades.

The reef's decline is attributed to several factors. The biggest factors are smashing from tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish that eat coral and are boosted by nutrient runoff from agriculture and coral bleaching from high-temperatures, which are rising due to climate change.  

Coral bleaching is the process in which ocean temperatures rise and cause the corals to expel their zooxanthellae - the tiny photosynthetic algae that live in the coral's tissues.

"This is a really grim wake-up call," John Bruno says a biologist at UNC Chapel Hill. "The GBR [Great Barrier Reef], which only 10 years ago was considered the world's most pristine and resilient coral reef is clearly not better off and no less threatened than any other reef. I am bullish on the long-term survival of reefs, but science like this is challenging that outlook."

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions are essential in order to maintain the reef. "International efforts to cap and reduce CO2 emissions are equally critical and must occur at the same time as cleaning up local impacts," Les Kaufman, a biologist at Boston University says.

Fabricius says not much can be done in the short term about the climate-change-driven frequency of cyclones - five category 5 storms in the past seven years have pounded the reefs - or high temperatures. There are efforts underway to stem the damage from starfish, which can grow up to 3 feet in diameter and sport long venomous spines and 21 arms. Young starfish feed on coral-making algae, leaving behind the coral's skeleton.

One project encourages farmers to adopt practices that limit the amount of nutrient-rich runoff draining into reef areas. Another would allow tour operators to manually remove starfish from tourist areas, which Fabricius admits isn't a solution, just a temporary fix.

Inaction is not an option at this point. "The problem is entirely soluble, and coral reefs can be saved through concerted effort over this and the following two or three generations," said Kaufman. "There is absolutely no excuse for failure to do this, and if we do fail our generation will forever be remembered for unimaginable, unforgivable stupidity and sloth."

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Green

BIOLOGICAL WARFARE? Smog from India, China winds way to U.S., Canada Watch

Image of The smog in Asia, it must be noted is caused by more than just the burning of fossil fuels - it's comprised of nitrogen oxides, methane and other volatile organic compounds that combine to produce ozone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ripples in the global pond, half a world away, can have effects all over the globe. Researchers at Texas A&M now say that air pollution originating in both India and China, almost certainly affects global weather patterns, particularly in the United States and ... continue reading


MONSTER El Nino forming in South Pacific, will being devastating weather around the globe in 2014-2015 Watch

Image of We may see a sharp increase in severe weather events for 2014-2015.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to scientists, a massive El Nino is forming in the Pacific and it may be the largest such El Nino ever recorded. If true then the entire planet may experience an uptick in extreme weather events with serious consequences for life and property around the ... continue reading


World must turn to wind and solar to combat global warming, report says Watch

Image of Scientists are optimistic that if renewable energy is quickly rolled out, homes are built in a more sustainable and energy efficient way, and human consumption and wastefulness is changed, climate change can be controlled.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world must turn to the wind or sun for its energy needs -- or face catastrophic consequences wrought by climate change. That's the news from a recent report from the United Nations on global warming. These devastating effects could take place as early as 15 ... continue reading


Former Indonesian tropical paradise reduced to garbage dump Watch

Image of The water at times turns red, green, yellow and black because of the high concentration of dyes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As people in China's most air polluted cities cheerfully don face masks, a fisherman on Indonesia's Citarum River has blankly accepted his polluted fate. Once searching for fish, Herman, the name of the fisherman proffered to news reporters says he now looks ... continue reading


THIRD Oarfish sighting in Sea of Cortez stokes earthquake fears Watch

Image of A tour guide lies beside a beached oarfish specimen on the Isla San Francisco in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An oarfish has been found washed on an island beach in Mexico, leading to speculation if it is one of the two previously sighted and filmed last month, or if it is in fact a third specimen. If it is a third, it could fuel rumors of an earthquake since anecdotal ... continue reading


Japanese island consumes another in unusual volcanic activity Watch

Image of Two volcanic craters are shown on Niijima on November 22. The island emerged about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Islands, also known as the Bonin Islands.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a spate of highly unusual volcanic activity, one Japanese island has merged with another nearby island. Niijima Island, a volcano which broke through the ocean's surface last November, has now merged with a nearby island that formed from a volcano which last ... continue reading


Are these oarfish in Mexico predicting an earthquake? Tourists film TWO live oarfish trying to beach themselves Watch

Image of Oarfish are legendary harbingers of earthquakes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing new video shows two oarfish swimming just offshore in Mexico to the delight of ecotourists on a kayaking tour. The video, taken last March, shows the pair of fish possibly about to beach themselves. Oarfish are rarely sighted and legend associates their ... continue reading


MASS EXTINCTION: All life on Earth went extinct 252 million years ago Watch

Image of The Permian-Triassic extinction has been defined as a natural event that heated up the Earth's biological systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nearly all life on Earth became extinct 252 million years ago. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT scientists, the culprit was not an asteroid striking the planet, but a methane-spewing microbe. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Daniel ... continue reading


Bison, elk appear to be fleeing Yellowstone. Is supervolcano eruption eminent? Watch

Image of A supervolcano under Yellowstone could cause mass extinctions if it erupted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talk of a supervolcano eruption in Yellowstone National Park has hit the blogosphere after several people have posted videos of animals fleeing the sanctuary. A supervolcano eruption would destroy everything for hundreds of miles around and would plunge the planet into ... continue reading


Global warming is inevitable: It's time for a new ecology. Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The latest revelation from climate scientists is that they now believe global climate change as a result of human activities is now inevitable and irreversible. Furthermore, it will affect everybody in the years to come-if it hasn't already. It is nigh time for a new ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 10:34, 37-43
34 Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:1-9
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and ... Read More

Reading 2, Colossians 3:1-4
1 Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 20th, 2014 Image

St. Marian
April 20: When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter