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4 years after tsunami: Corals stage comeback
Date:12/29/2008

NEW YORK (DECEMBER 26, 2008) A team of scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has reported a rapid recovery of coral reefs in areas of Indonesia, following the tsunami that devastated coastal regions throughout the Indian Ocean four years ago today.

The WCS team, working in conjunction with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARCCoERS) along with government, community and non-government partners, has documented high densities of "baby corals" in areas that were severely impacted by the tsunami.

The team, which has surveyed the region's coral reefs since the December 26, 2004 tsunami, looked at 60 sites along 800 kilometers (497 miles) of coastline in Aceh, Indonesia. The researchers attribute the recovery to natural colonization by resilient coral species, along with the reduction of destructive fishing practices by local communities.

"On the 4th anniversary of the tsunami, this is a great story of ecosystem resilience and recovery," said Dr, Stuart Campbell, coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Indonesia Marine Program. "Our scientific monitoring is showing rapid growth of young corals in areas where the tsunami caused damage, and also the return of new generations of corals in areas previously damaged by destructive fishing. These findings provide new insights into coral recovery processes that can help us manage coral reefs in the face of climate change."

While initial surveys immediately following the tsunami showed patchy (albeit devastating) damage to coral reefs in the region, surveys in 2005 indicated that many of the dead reefs in the study area had actually succumbed long ago to destructive fishing practices such as the use of dynamite and cyanide to catch fish. It is also possible that the crown of thorns starfisha marine predatorhad caused widespread coral mortality.

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Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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