Please select your home edition
Edition
A+T Instruments 2024 Leaderboard

Coral reefs in Indo-Pacific Ocean tougher than Caribbean reefs

by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on 16 Jul 2012
Our coral reefs: In trouble - but tougher than we thought George Roff
Leading marine scientists have said that Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts.

Dr George Roff and Professor Peter Mumby from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland told the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns that coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean are naturally tougher than the Caribbean reefs.

'The main reason that Indo-Pacific reefs are more resilient is they have less seaweed than the Caribbean Sea,' Dr Roff says. 'Seaweed and corals are age-old competitors in the battle for space. When seaweed growth rates are lower, such as the Indo-Pacific region, the reefs recover faster from setbacks. This provides coral with a competitive advantage over seaweed, and our study suggests that these reefs would have to be heavily degraded for seaweeds to take over.

'This doesn’t mean that we can be complacent – reefs around the world are still heavily threatened by climate change and human activities,' he says. 'What it indicates is Indo-Pacific reefs will respond better to protection, and steps we take to keep them healthy have a better chance of succeeding.'

'Many of the doom and gloom stories have emanated from the Caribbean, which has deteriorated rapidly in the last 30 years,' says Professor Mumby. 'We now appreciate that the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean are far more different than we thought.'

The study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE), includes survey data Indo-Pacific region and Caribbean reefs from 1965 to 2010.

The researchers also found that seaweeds in Indo-Pacific region bloom four times more slowly than those in the Caribbean.

'We’re not sure why this happens, but a plausible theory is that Caribbean waters are highly enriched in iron,' they say. 'For thousands of years, the Caribbean Sea has received dusts that blow across the Atlantic from the Sahara, and the dust contains iron – an essential element for algae to grow.

'This suggests that the difference between the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean oceans and their coral reefs is fundamental, and occurs at a very large scale.

'Another factor that protects these reefs is the abundance of herbivorous fish, such as surgeon and parrotfish that treat seaweed as a delicacy. The Indo-Pacific region has a lot of these fishes.

'For instance, the Indo-Pacific region has 70 species and six genera of parrotfish, while the Caribbean only has 13 species and two genera of the fish.'

While the findings indicate a brighter future for the Indo-Pacific reefs, nations such as Australia will need to maintain vigilant protection of the ocean, the researchers warn.

'All reefs face an uncertain future, particularly in places with lots of human activities,' they say. 'We still need to curb the overfishing of herbivorous fish, as they are very sought after in the Pacific. We also need to control the level of nutrients in the water and prevent runoff when necessary.

'The good news is that our Indo-Pacific reefs are tougher than we thought – we just need to make sure that our actions won’t destroy their natural resilience.'

The researchers presented their paper 'Global disparity in the resilience of coral reefs' on Thursday 12 July 2012 in Cairns Convention Centre (Hall D).





ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies website

Armstrong 728x90 - HA Foil Range - BOTTOM2024 fill-in (bottom)J Composites J/99

Related Articles

Road to Gold with Olympic medallist Aaron McIntosh
Live Q&A: From Olympic to America's Cup coaching Three years ago, Aaron McIntosh joined Road To Gold to talk about "The Power of the Squad", where we covered the importance of building a supportive culture and how to have fun while training.
Posted today at 12:17 pm
2023 McIntyre Ocean Globe Prize giving
It's a wrap with 2027 OGR on the horizon! Heather Thomas and her all-women Maiden crew have been crowned the 2023 McIntyre Ocean Globe champions during a lavish mid-summer day poolside prize-giving party, hosted by and at Marco Trombetti's Translated villa headquarters in Rome.
Posted today at 8:40 am
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - Sail Racing Collection
Some of our best sellers are back in stock . Shop now to avoid disappointment! Alinghi Red Bull Racing - Sail Racing Collection is back in stock at the America's Cup Store - along with other best sellers. Shop now to avoid disappointment!
Posted today at 6:53 am
ILCA 4 Worlds at Viana do Castelo, Portugal day 0
51 countries and 427 sailors set for racing The ILCA 4 World Championship 2024, the largest junior sailing event in the world, is being held in Viana do Castelo from 23rd to 30th June 2024. There are 51 countries being represented by 427 sailors, 108 coaches, and over 900 supporters.
Posted today at 5:30 am
J/99s dominate the Duo Cat-Amania 2024
Winning every leg of Yacht Club du Crouesty-Arzon's doublehanded coastal event The Js didn't leave a single crumb of victory to the others, winning all six legs of this edition! There were six Js in the top ten, with the J/99 J LANCE and J/99 WHIMJY taking first and second place respectively.
Posted on 24 Jun
Kiel Week: Schwachhofer/Stoltze dominate 49erFX
Sweeping to scores of 2,1,1 in the 28-boat fleet German team Katharina Schwachhofer and Elena Stoltze dominated day three of Kiel Week as the 49erFX crew swept to scores 2,1,1 in the 28-boat fleet.
Posted on 24 Jun
When to reef on a catamaran
Catamaran sailing comes with its own unique challenges Whether you're an experienced sailor, or you've picked it up in later life, catamaran sailing comes with its own unique challenges - not least when it comes to deciding when to reduce sail.
Posted on 24 Jun
Cup Spy June 22: Final edition of a great program
Just when it was starting to get interesting, the AC37 Joint Recon program has ended The Kiwis are the last to arrive and bring the total of teams now in Barcelona to six. With the closure of the Recon program only those in the Barcelona Bubble will see how they fare alongside the five Challengers.
Posted on 24 Jun
X-Yachts Aurum Cup 2024 overall
Cooler temperatures, shifty winds, great racing and a great party! The second day of the 2024 X-Yachts Aurum Cup saw cooler weather, shifty breezes, and rain! The fleet of 12 yachts headed out into the Sydney Sound at Middle Head for two races in two divisions.
Posted on 24 Jun
Giles Scott secures second podium result
After finishing third at New York SailGP Giles Scott has secured his second podium result in as many events after placing third at the Mubadala New York Sail Grand Prix. While Scott was hoping for a win on his birthday in New York, his Emirates GBR SailGP Team finished third in the US capital.
Posted on 24 Jun