Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saving coral reefs becomes tourism priority

From a New York Times article by Bonnie Tsui:

GREEN sea turtles, cascades of glittering reef fish, blooming coral pillars — countless travelers have come nose to nose with a thriving undersea universe while on vacation. But increasingly, divers and snorkelers are swimming over bleached hunks of coral devastated by shore runoff or overfishing.

From the South Pacific to the Caribbean, coral reefs — which are among the most delicate of marine ecosystems — are bearing the brunt of climate change and other human-driven activities — including coastal development, deforestation and unrestricted tourism. Now, many in the tourist industry are trying to halt the damage. . . .

[T]he world’s second-largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean, is seriously endangered by coastal development, runoff and pollution. The reef system stretches nearly 700 miles from the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico to the Bay Islands of Honduras.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Caribbean Corals in Danger of Extinction: Climate Change, Warmer Waters Cited as Leading Cause

From an article on the Web site of Science Daily:

Caribbean coral species are dying off, indicating dramatic shifts in the ecological balance under the sea, a new scientific study of Caribbean marine life shows.

Two colonies of brain coral (Diploria strigosa) on Curacao show the effects of a coral disease called white plague. The colony on the left has died completely, and the disease has spread to the colony on the right, where it shows as a stark white band encroaching on the still-living, colorful part of the colony.

The study found that 10 percent of the Caribbean's 62 reef-building corals were under threat, including staghorn and elkhorn corals. These used to be the most prominent species but are now candidates to be listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

"One of the Atlantic Ocean's most beautiful marine habitats no longer exists in many places because of dramatic increases in coral diseases, mostly caused by climate change and warmer waters," said Dr. Michael L. Smith, director of the Caribbean Biodiversity Initiative at Conservation International. . . .

The threats to corals and other marine species include coastal pollution and human development; increased sedimentation in run-off water; thermal stress and heightened severity of hurricanes from climate change; and shifts in species dynamics due to over-fishing, according to the study. Scientists explained that the Caribbean has undergone the longest and most sustained impacts from human development since the colonization of the Americas.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Turtle nesting begins

From CEA's newsletter:

We are pleased to inform you that we already have 17 Loggerhead nests on Akumal’s beaches, 16 of them located on site and 1 of them relocated. The first days of the season seemed to be slow, but now we are doing great! Our turtles have started nesting and in a couple of months we will have our first hatchlings.

Please help us keep this awesome natural event happening here by supporting us and actively participating in our different events and campaigns to protect our turtles: beach clean-ups, changing bright lights on the beaches, not leaving any objects which could block the way of females trying to nest, letting other people know that it is a federal offense to bother turtles, and don’t forget to inform CEA of your observations.

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