Tag Archives: Coral Reef

Great Barrier Reef: UNESCO Recommends World Heritage Site Not be Placed on ‘In Danger’ List

The birth place of the World’s largest living organism. Captions and Photo source: ©© Greens MPs


A draft UN ruling has recommended against listing the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” but indicated the natural icon remains on its watch list.

The reprieve for Australia comes with strict conditions about the implementation of measures to protect the reef system.

The committee noted “with concern” the ongoing decline in the health of the reef shown in the last comprehensive scientific survey of the reef in 2014, due to climate change, water pollution and coastal development.

Environmental groups consider the reef – regardless of the Unesco ruling – technically in danger, particularly in the face of state and federal government support of proposals to develop massive coal mines in Galilee basin in central Queensland…

Read Full Article: “Should the Great Barrier Reef be listed as ‘in danger’ by Unesco?” Guardian UK

Great Barrier Reef shouldn’t be on ‘in danger’ list for now, says Unesco, Guardian UK

Great Barrier Reef: UNESCO recommends world heritage site not be placed on ‘in danger’ list, ABC Australia
The World Heritage Committee raised “great concerns” about the “unprecedented” scale of coastal development proposed within and affecting the reef.

What Exactly is the World Heritage In Danger List? BBC News
The Great Barrier Reef is one of more than 1,000 places on Unesco’s World Heritage List of precious environmental and cultural sites. In June, Unesco will decide if the Reef should be added to its “in danger” list. Today, a draft recommendation has been made about the reef’s status…

Great Barrier Reef at Risk from Rushed Sediment Dumping Plan at Abbot Point, Guardian UK (12-23-2014)
A plan to dump dredged sediment onto a sensitive wetlands area beside the Great Barrier Reef near Abbot Point would lead to much more slurry being pumped into the waters of the reef than officially estimated, a report has warned…

Great Barrier Reef Dredge Approval Was ‘Suicide’ For Reef Authority, Guardian UK (10-07-2014)

The Great Barrier Reef’s Days May Be Numbered, Huffington Green (07-23-2014)
Researchers appeared before an Australian Senate committee to review how federal and local governments have managed the reef, and found that the Reef is in the worse state it’s ever been in since records began. Researchers attributed the significant decline to coastal development as well as dredging and dumping sediment along the Queensland coast.

Cooking The Climate Wrecking The Reef:The Global Impact Of Coal Exports From Australia’s Galilee Bassin, Greenpeace (09-19-2012)
A coal basin near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will rank among the world’s worst producers of carbon pollution if fully mined, Greenpeace said, as it warned of devastating consequences. ” Cooking The Climate Wrecking The Reef: The Global Impact Of Coal Exports From Australia’s Galilee Bassin”, is a Greenpeace Australia Report.

10 steps to save the Great Barrier Reef, Guardian UK (10-27-2014)

BE THE CHANGE: Join WWF Great Barrier Reef Campaign

Stop industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef #SOSreef
“Call on world leaders to defend World Heritage under threat!”—WWF Great Barrier Reef Campaign

Ocean-scale Dataset Allows Broad View of Human Influence on Pacific Coral Reef

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


A study draws on data from nearly 40 islands and atolls across the central and western Pacific, including 25 unpopulated islands, to investigate the relative influence of environmental variation and human presence on reef fish assemblages. The resulting message is sobering…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Despite Protections, Miami Port Project Smothers Coral Reef in Silt

On-board a sand dredger, offshore Miami. Photo courtesy of: © Denis Delestrac


The government divers who plunged into the bay near the Port of Miami surfaced with bad news again and again: Large numbers of corals were either dead or dying, suffocated by sediment.

The source of the sediment, environmentalists say, is a $205 million dredging project, scheduled to end in July and intended to expand a shipping channel to make room for a new generation of supersize cargo ships…

Read Full Article, The New York Times

Super-sized ships: How big can they get? Independent UK (10-20-2014)
Despite the physical limits and risks, ships of more than 450m are anticipated within the next five years…

NOAA Lists 20 Coral Species As Threatened, NOAA (08-30-2014)
NOAA announced it will afford Endangered Species Act protections to 20 coral species. All 20 species will be listed as threatened…

Along Cuba’s Coast, The Last Best Coral Reef in the Caribbean Thrives

Cayo Jutías, Cuba, is a tiny mangrove-covered key. The cayo’s serenity is thanks to the lack of any permanent accommodations. Captions: Lonely Planet. Photo source: ©© Potomo


While coral reef cover has declined by 50 percent throughout the Caribbean in recent decades, Cuba has managed to retain some of the most pristine and biodiverse coral reef environments on earth.

A lack of coastal development, limited tourism, relatively small amounts of runoff flowing into the sea, tight controls on commercial fishing, and the establishment of extensive marine protected areas have all combined to give Cuba the most remarkable coral reef environments in the Caribbean…


Read Full Article, Yale E360

Artificial Reef Enhancement Underway, North Carolina

Oyster reef restoration in Alabama.
A submerged breakwater reef was created along two stretches of shoreline, protecting more than 18 acres of habitat for submerged aquatic vegetation and creating almost two acres of oyster reef. When all is said and done, the submerged reefs will protect more than a mile of coastal habitat by reflecting erosive wave energy away from the shoreline, unlike traditional erosion protection structures that contribute to habitat loss. Captions and Photo source: NOAA Fisheries


Over the next couple months, more than 2 million tons of concrete material will be dropped over local artificial reefs, providing habitat for ocean life on barren stretches of the sea floor…

Read Full Article, Lumina News

An Oyster in the Storm, Op Ed by Paul Greenberg, The New York Times
Just as corals protect tropical islands, these oyster beds created undulation and contour on the harbor bottom that broke up wave action before it could pound the shore with its full force. Beds closer to shore clarified the water through their assiduous filtration (a single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day); this allowed marsh grasses to grow, which in turn held the shores together with their extensive root structure.

“Angel Azul Movie,” by Marcelina Cavat
Learn more about this award winning documentary Marcelina Cavat, featuring Jason deCaires Taylor’s creation: the underwater museum, MUSA (Museo Subacuatico Del Arte).

Environmentally inspired artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, created a hauntingly beautiful underwater museum with his life-like statues providing habitat for marine life, coral re-growth and mystery for divers to explore. This featured sculpture, titled “Grenada”, is installed in the underwater museum, MUSA (Museo Subacuatico Del Arte) off the coast of Cancún.
Photograph courtesy of © Jason deCaires Taylor; for Coastal Care’s Photograph of the Month, August 2013.

Coral Reefs Threatened by Changing Ocean Conditions

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

By © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution;

The lowering of the ocean’s pH is making it harder for corals to grow their skeletons and easier for bioeroding organisms to tear them down. Erosion rates increase tenfold in areas where corals are also exposed to high levels of nutrients, according to a study published January 2015 in the journal Geology. As sea level rises, these reefs may have a harder time growing toward the ocean surface, where they get sunlight they need to survive.

The study, led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), highlights the multiple threats to coral reef ecosystems, which provide critical buffers to shoreline erosion, sustain fisheries that feed hundreds of millions of people, and harbor 25 percent of all marine species. And it points to a key management strategy that could slow reef decline: reducing the input of nutrient pollution to the coastal ocean from human activity such as runoff from sewers, septic tanks, roads, and fertilizers.

Corals make their skeletons out of calcium and carbonate ions from seawater, constructing massive colonies as large as cars and small houses. As the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning, it spurs chemical reactions that lower the pH of seawater, a process known as ocean acidification. The process removes carbonate ions, making them less available for corals to build skeletons.

“A healthy coral reef ecosystem exists in a constant and often overlooked tug-of-war. As corals build their skeletons up toward the sea surface, other organisms—mollusks, worms, and sponges—bore into and erode the skeletons to create shelters,” said lead author Thomas DeCarlo, a graduate student in the WHOI-MIT Joint Program in Oceanography, working in Anne Cohen’s lab at WHOI.

This process, called bioerosion, reduces skeletons to rubble, which is transported offshore during fierce storms or gradually dissolved in the sediments. On healthy reefs today, calcium carbonate production barely exceeds the loss by erosion, dissolution, and offshore transport. As a result of this delicate balance, coral reefs grow very slowly, if at all, when sea level is stable.

The new study shows that additional nutrients provide a dramatic boost for bioeroders that, combined with lower pH conditions, will tip this balance in favor of erosion. The bioeroders are filter feeders, sifting particles of food out of seawater. Nutrients spur the growth of plankton, supplying food for large populations of bioeroders that burrow into coral skeletons.

When corals and bioeroders are in balance, the former grow just fast enough to stay near the sea surface, while the latter are busily sculpting the coral skeletons into an intricate, three-dimensional habitat full of nooks and hiding places for fish, urchins, and other marine life.

In waters with fewer carbonate ions and more nutrients, corals may not be able to build new skeleton fast enough to keep pace with bioeroders cutting down the reef. The result would be “flatter” coral reefs with less of the three-dimensional structure responsible for the rich biodiversity found on coral reefs.

To conduct the study, the research team investigated coral reefs spanning the Pacific Ocean, from the west coast of Panama to Palau. The reefs also spanned a range of different naturally occurring pH and nutrient conditions in the ocean, including several reefs in seawater with pH levels today that are as low as those expected for much of the tropical ocean by 2100. That allowed the scientists to examine how bioeroders are affected by the isolated and combined influences of pH and nutrient conditions.

The scientists used underwater drills to collect cores of coral skeletons. They put the cores through the CAT scanner at the Computerized Scanning and Imaging Facility at WHOI to get 3-D images of tunnels and borings made by bioeroders with a resolution of about the width of a human hair. That allowed them to calculate precisely how much skeleton the bioeroders had removed.

The researchers found that relatively acidic (lower-pH) reefs were more heavily bio-eroded than their higher-pH counterparts. But their most striking finding was that in waters with a combination of high nutrient levels and lower-pH, bio-erosion is ten times higher than in lower-pH waters without high nutrient levels.

“The ocean will certainly absorb more CO2 over the next century, and ocean acidification is a global phenomenon that reefs cannot escape,” DeCarlo said. “But the encouraging news in our findings is that people can take action to protect their local reefs. If people can limit runoff from septic tanks, sewers, roads, farm fertilizers, and others sources of nutrient pollution to the coastal ocean, the bioeroders will not have such an upper hand, and the balance will tip much more slowly toward erosion and dissolution of coral reefs.”

Along with DeCarlo and Cohen, the team included Hannah Barkley (WHOI), Kathryn Shamberger (WHOI, now at Texas A&M University), Quinn Cobban (Falmouth Academy), Charles Young and Russell Brainard (NOAA), and Yimnang Golbuu (Palau International Coral Reef Center). The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Original Article and Learn More, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution