Please select your home edition
Edition
Coast Guard Foundation LEADERBOARD 3

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

Lloyd Stevenson - SYA3 728x90px BOTTOMC-Tech 2021 America's Cup 728x90 BOTTOMHyde Sails 2022 Wuzzos - FOOTER

Related Articles

44Cup Oman Day 2
A-Teams on the rise After a light start, conditions were optimum off Muscat's Al Mouj Marina for day two of the 44Cup Oman, the fifth and concluding event of the 2022 44Cup.
Posted on 9 Dec
12m Worlds to be held in Newport, Rhode Island
Legendary sailboats tied to the America's Cup will provide spectacular racing Next summer in Newport, R.I., an exciting schedule of competitive sailing will be punctuated by the 2023 12mR World Championship, an ITMA event organized by the 12 Metre Yacht Club Newport Station in partnership with Organizing Authority Ida Lewis YC.
Posted on 9 Dec
Zhik's new multi-purpose breathable PFD
So light it barely feels like you are wearing it Zhik's new ultra lightweight, breathable PFD is an ergonomically profiled buoyancy vest, which is so light it barely feels like you are wearing it.
Posted on 9 Dec
2022 Star South American Championship Day 1
Two perfect races in Buenos Aires, Argentina The 2022 Star South American Championship has started Thursday and will end on Sunday December 11th in Buenos Aires, Argentina, organized by the Yacht Club Argentino at the Dársena Norte with the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association.
Posted on 9 Dec
44Cup Oman Day 1
Team Nika back on form After a light World Championship back in October in Portorož, Slovenia, the nine teams competing today off Muscat's Al Mouj Marina at the 44Cup Oman were well dialled in for the opening day of the 2022 44Cup's grand finale.
Posted on 9 Dec
Windpowered landspeed record attempt this weekend
Emirates Team NZ is under time pressure to better the the current wind powered landspeed record mark With weather conditions at South Australia's Lake Gairdner finally improving, pilot Glenn Ashby is preparing take a crack at the world mark of 202.9kph this weekend. SailGP and America's Cup Chief Umpire Richard Slater will oversee the record attempt.
Posted on 9 Dec
NYYC American Magic partners with Garmin
As the Official Supplier of Marine Electronics NYYC American Magic is pleased to announce Garmin, the world's most innovative and recognized marine electronics manufacturer, as the Official Supplier of Marine Electronics to support American Magic's preparations for their 37th America's Cup challenge.
Posted on 9 Dec
Shirley Robertson talks with Tom Slingsby
Tom Slingsby: "I said right then and there that I want to be a part of this arena." Tom Slingsby: "I was getting yelled at by Russell Coutts, and I still remember sitting there thinking 'I can't believe I'm sitting there with these legends, Grant Simmer, Jimmy (Spithill), Ben Ainslie, Russell Coutts', I remember I was really in awe!"
Posted on 9 Dec
West Coast's Sailing Convention for Women returns
BoatUS has sponsored the event for nearly three decades After a Covid hiatus the Sailing Convention for Women is back with full sails and expanded learning opportunities and slated for Saturday, April 1, 2023.
Posted on 8 Dec
VMG and Tack Loss: New Training Tools from Vakaros
Racing data at your fingertips from Vakaros As sailors, we're always asking questions when we're on the water. Do we have the right sail configuration? Is this mode really faster in the current conditions? That tack felt good, but was it?
Posted on 8 Dec