By Stephen Leahy. INTER PRESS SERVICE. July 31, 2012
CAIRNS, Australia, Jul 24 2012 (IPS) – Most corals thrive only in shallow waters, where there is enough light for them to grow. But the rapid rise in sea level, due to the melting of polar ice, is making these conditions increasingly scarce.
Measurements from tropical seas around the world reveal that the rise in sea level (3.3 mm/year) is happening at a faster rate than many corals have grown in the past 10,000 years, according to new research released at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS).
“The Caribbean once had 60 percent coral cover, and that has now collapsed to 10 percent,” said Jeremy Jackson, professor emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, in a special address to the symposium, held Jul. 9-13 in Cairns, Australia. “Corals are critical and endangered ecosystems.”
Sea-level rise is just one threat to corals, which have been decimated by overfishing, pollution, and bleaching from warmer sea temperatures due to climate change, Jackson added.
A colorful piece of coral is made up of thousands of tiny animals called polyps, which create cup-like limestone skeletons around themselves using calcium from seawater. Coral gets its beautiful colors from microalgae that live symbiotically with it. Read the full article at http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/07/scientists-discover-new-threats-to-corals/