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Scripps-led study shows ocean health plays vital role in coral reef recovery
Date:7/21/2009

author of the study. "There are no pristine reefs in the region, but the ones in the best shape clearly are more resilient than those that are long-suffering. It shows that a little improvement in growing conditions goes a long way in recovering coral health."

Corals are widely considered to be barometers for global warming and are important for biodiversity in the world's oceans. Coral reefs thrive in warm tropical oceans under just the right conditions that include moderate temperatures and low nutrient and sediment input from land-based sources. Protecting reef health from local sources of stress, such as runoff, can improve resilience to global warming stress.

Coral bleaching occurs when the tiny zooxanthellae, living with the tissues of coral polyps, which are responsible for their vibrant colors, are lost and the coral turns white in color.

The fast-recovering were corals collected from Turneffe Atoll, which is farther offshore than the main Belize Barrier Reef and Cayos Cochinos, a marine biological reserve off the northern coast of Honduras. Those that took longer to recover to pre-1998 conditions were from the Sapodilla Cayes in southern Belize and Utila in Honduras. The Sapodilla Cayes are a marine protected area, but experience significant runoff impacts; meanwhile Utila is quite heavily populated and local impacts probably result from development, sewage and other sources.


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Contact: Annie Reisewitz or Robert Monroe
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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