The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUC) painted a debilitating picture of the reefs within the Caribbean Region. According to a recent disclosure by the Union, the grim reality is that “less than 10 percent of coral reefs in the Caribbean show living coral cover and are on the verge of utter devastation.
Carl Gustaf Lundin, a director at the ICU told the British Guardian newspaper that global warming, pollution and overexploitation are the main causes for the damage to reefs.
“The major causes of coral decline are well-known and include overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising temperatures resulting from the burning of fossil fuels,” Lundin said.
“Looking forward, there is an urgent need to immediately and drastically reduce all human impacts if coral reefs and the vitally important fisheries that depend on them are to survive in the decades to come,” he stressed.
A 1970s study in the Caribbean revealed then that 50 percent of the reefs showed coral that was alive and continuing to grow. In stark contrast, the latest survey found that only eight percent is covered with living coral growth.
Scientists participating in the study also warned that there was no evidence that coral death would be slowing.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration points out that global warming is a big factor with coral reefs, as more bleaching and infections break out when temperatures rise.
Additionally, more carbon dioxide in the air alters the chemistry of the oceans, and slight changes in acidity could alter the growth rates of coral.
There is, however, some room for hope. Terry Hughes of James Cook University has conducted research on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and concluded that rather than experiencing total destruction, “many coral reefs will survive climate change by changing the mix of coral species as the ocean warms and becomes more acidic.”
He warned, though, that local factors like pollution and overfishing also need to be addressed. http://www.caricomnewsnetwork.com