Investigation 8

October 22, 2016

SMC B206

Mr. Caswell

Investigation 8

          One reason coral reefs are important to the environment is because they help

coastlines from being damaged by violent weather. Another reason is that they provide

homes and food for many species which are either eaten by humans or have positive

effects on the environment. In fact, industries relating to fishing practically depend on

these reefs to keep their businesses going. For example, the Great Barrier Reef helps make

over $1 billion for the economy of Australia through tourism and fishing.

          Fish themselves have been suggested to have the ability to assist coral in their

growth through the urine fish release. This is because their urine contains phosphorus,

which, like the nitrogen fish release through their gills, is important to the existence of

coral reefs. A study from Nature Communications expressed that much of the nutrients

from pee are gone from ocean’s ecosystem. This is not due to fishing for regular fish, but

rather, fishing for big fish and predator fish.

          According to research created through flying and diving towards hundreds of sites

across hundreds of miles of reef, it was found that 93% of the Great Barrier Reef had been

affected by bleaching. This is because the water surrounding the reef had become higher in

temperature due to El Niño and the general alteration in the weather. The north parts of

the reef in particular have quite possibly received the most damage, likely due to water

getting hotter and staying like that for long periods of time. Although there was less

damage on the south parts, the bleaching it had received was still rather grave. It can only

be hoped that the temperature lowers for the sake of the coral reefs.

          Over the last 40 years, about 80% of all the corals in the Caribbean have vanished. It

even go the point that, in 2006, elkhorn coral became the first coral to be listed as a

threatened species in regards to the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In response to this,

researchers from SECORE International, the University of Amsterdam, and the Carmabi

Marine Research Station have helped bred colonies in a lab and released them in the wild

in 2011. Checking on these same colonies four years later, they discovered that they had

succeeded in raising coral which can reproduce, countering its threatened species status in

the process. This is the first instance of such an accomplishment happening

and plans have been made for more large-scale restorations.

Bibliography

Kahn, B. (2016, April 20). Bleaching Has Hit 93 Percent of the Great Barrier Reef. Retrieved from http://www.climatecentral.org/news/greater-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-20267

Ma, M. (2016, August 16). Big fish—and their pee—are key parts of coral reef ecosystems. Retrieved from http://phys.org/news/2016-08-big-fishand-peeare-key-coral.html

Queensland Museum. 05. Human Impact on the Reef. Retrieved from http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/microsites/biodiscovery/05human-impact/importance-of-coral- reefs.html

Secore International. (2016, January 29). Laboratory-bred corals reproduce in the wild. Retrieved from http://www.secore.org/site/newsroom/article/laboratory-bred-corals-reproduce-in-the- wild.143.html

Yale University. (2016, February 1). Lab-raised Caribbean Coral Grown in the Wild for the First Time. Retrieved from http://e360.yale.edu/digest/lab- raised_caribbean_coral_grows_to_maturity_in_the_wild_for_first_time_researchers_say/4643/

Image credit (https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/fate-great-barrier-reef)

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