Caribbean Coral Suffers Record Death
A friend just emailed me the following article with this message:
"Well, love what we got, because we are at the pinnacle of society, resting on the top peak of an ocean wave that has carried us far and high...but it is coming down and it is coming fast...brace yourself, the dark ages are coming. We have been blessed with the most glorious and amazing time in history...from Burning Man to the Internet...but Mother Nature is biting back and she's pissed. See you all on the other side."
You might want to plan your next vacation around seeing coral reefs while you still can. We owe the reefs, fish, whales and dolphins a big apology.
A one-two punch of bleaching from record hot water followed by disease has killed ancient and delicate coral in the biggest loss of reefs scientists have ever seen in Caribbean waters.
Researchers from around the globe are scrambling to figure out the extent of the loss. Early conservative estimates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands find that about one-third of the coral in official monitoring sites has recently died.
"It's an unprecedented die-off," said National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller, who last week checked 40 stations in the Virgin Islands. "The mortality that we're seeing now is of the extremely slow-growing reef-building corals. These are corals that are the foundation of the reef ... We're talking colonies that were here when Columbus came by have died in the past three to four months."
And with global warming, scientists are pessimistic about the future of coral reefs.
"The prognosis is not good," said biochemistry professor M. James Crabbe of the University of Luton near London. In early April, he will investigate coral reef mortality in Jamaica. "If you want to see a coral reef, go now, because they just won't survive in their current state."