Friday, July 11, 2008

25% of the world's corals are facing extinction

Catherine Brahic, Within one generation, diving on coral reefs could be a very rare holiday opportunity. The first comprehensive review of tropical coral species reveals that over one-quarter reef-building coral species already face extinction.
This means corals join frogs and toads as the most threatened group of animal species on the planet.
There are 845 known species of corals that build reefs and live in symbiosis with algae. Not enough is known about 141 of these to determine how threatened they are. But of the 704 remaining species, scientists say 32.8% are at risk of extinction. ...
Humans directly threaten corals by dumping fertilisers and sewage into the oceans and by overfishing with destructive methods. ...
In 1998, a world-wide coral bleaching triggered by unusually warm seas irreversibly destroyed 16% of the coral reef area worldwide.
Coral reefs are home to 25% of all fish species, and as many as 2 million species of animals and plants.
In this sense, they are the tropical rainforests of the oceans and the 1998 bleaching event can be compared to irreversibly wiping out 240 million hectares of forest – equivalent to half of the Amazon. ...
"Conserving corals will require doing more than addressing the causes of climate change, but the benefits will be considerable. Reef fish feed more than 1 billion people in the developing world and the overall value of coral reefs is estimated at more than $30 billion a year. (more)

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