The Red Sea Could be a Climate Refuge for Coral Reefs – Inside Climate News

A flat fan at Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea, Egypt (by Derek Keats CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).
A flat fan at Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea, Egypt (by Derek Keats CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).

A large new marine protected area could help some of the world’s most heat-tolerant corals survive the century, if the pressures from resorts, industry and other development ease.

When Lina Challita dives along Egypt’s coast, she doesn’t just see a colorful array of corals and fish. She sees hope. Against the grim backdrop of climate models that project most coral reefs dying by the end of this century in overheating oceans, the northern end of the Red Sea may end up being one of the last places on Earth where those critical ocean ecosystems can survive, at least at least for a while, and perhaps longer if countries of the world manage to cap global warming and stabilize the climate.

The reefs in the northern Red Sea could show scientists how some other reefs might adapt to global warming, and perhaps even serve as a nursery for corals to restore reefs in other areas.

A recent proposal for a vast new marine protected area encompassing the Red Sea’s reefs could be a step toward ensuring their survival, and the possibility of spreading the hope growing there to other coral ecosystems.

“What is needed are proper integrated coastal zone management plans that are enforced,” Challita said last November, looking out over the coastal reef zone near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where the most recent U.N. climate summit was held that month. “You have to take into consideration all stakeholders, from oil and gas to the shipping industry, to fishing, tourism and coastal development, and try to find the good middle between all of those, with the priority of protecting as many of these reefs as we can…”


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