Monday, July 07, 2008

NOAA reports reefs are threatened

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force has prepared a summary assessment of the state of coral reefs in United States waters for the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium being held this week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Results for 15 federally administered shallow-water reef preserves in the Pacific and Caribbean were shared with Dan Vergano of USA Today. Among the findings:
  • Caribbean reefs were blasted in 2005 by hurricanes, disease and bleaching that killed 90% of all corals in some locations.
  • Seafood species numbers are in poor condition at both Caribbean and Pacific reefs.

The report is not yet posted on the NOAA website, although it is being promised sometime in the near future. The term "threatened" seems loaded, since both elkhorn and staghorn coral will quite possibly go extinct if coastal waters continue to be depleted of oxygen and charged with bacteria by sewage and other products of human activity. There is also the issue of how global climate change may affect both the temperature and circulation of tropical waters where reef-building corals still survive. NOAA is but one of many federal scientific institutions whose forays into climate research have been curtailed and censored by the current administration.

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