coral reefs doomed?

BTyler3 at BTyler3 at
Sun Sep 9 20:18:34 EDT 2001

Re: Mark Spalding's comments and others...
<<Just a few quick thoughts on this, because tommorrow and Tuesday I'm going 
to be facing quite a bit of national and international press regarding the 
launch of the World Atlas of Coral Reefs. I'm quite expecting a question such 
as "We heard last week that coral reefs will all be dead within 50 years and 
there's nothing we can do about it, so why should be bother trying?">> 

I'd like to throw in my two cents worth about why bothering to study/protect 
coral reefs IF(??) they are actually on there way to widespread decline as is 
being discussed here.  This probably seems obvious to biologists and 
managers, but not necessarily to politicians/reporters 
controlling/influencing the purse strings.  

There are other reasons to protect these areas and to maintain water quality 
in reef areas other than maintaining hard corals.  

What would be the effect of hard coral die-offs from many of the worlds coral 
reefs?  No doubt there would be a change in structure, both physical and 
ecological.  Coralline algae, sponges, and possibly soft corals, would likely 
become the dominant structure-forming organisms.  This change in structural 
characteristics would lead to community changes in composition, diversity and 
abundance, but not necessarily complete elimination of important marine 
resources in these areas.    

In the worst case scenario, there may eventually be complete erosion of 
wave-dissipating functions of the resulting reefs, but this may take much 
longer.  But it seems to me that these altered reef areas would still be 
valuable marine resources worthy of protection for the future, if nothing 
else then to help put off the possibly inevitable breakdown of the entire 
reef structure.   Good water quality and management practices should 
hopefully enhance whatever takes place over the long-term.  


Dr. Bill Tyler 
Indian River Community College
Ft. Pierce, FL
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list