[Coral-List] Great Barrier Reef is rapidly losing coral

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Oct 9 15:08:37 EDT 2012

For those interested in the problem of the decline of coral cover on the
GBR, you may be interested in a new web post by Terry Hughes entitled

"Crown of Thorns is a symptom of reef decline: let's address the cause."



On Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 5:32 PM, Katharina Fabricius <K.Fabricius at aims.gov.au
> wrote:

> Dear Tracy,
> the Reuters article is a popular summary of the research; the original
> research by De'ath et al.  is open access, downloadable at
> http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/25/1208909109.full.pdf+html
> It is not only the 5 billion dollars income from the GBR to the Australian
> economy that is at stake here, but it is the ecological integrity of the
> Great Barrier Reef that is also at stake. We are fortunate that we now have
> 27 years of consistent monitoring data from the GBR. John Bruno has shown
> before that many reef systems around the world are not faring any better
> than the GBR, but most don't have the data to show such trends and their
> causes.
> The article outlines what needs to be done to try to halt and reverse the
> observed decline in coral cover. These are,
> * globally: increasing efforts to cut CO2 emissions (no surprises here),
> and
> * regionally: increasing efforts to cleaning up water quality, and
> developing additional new ways to actively intervene against
> crown-of-thorns.
> That may sound motherhoody, but the data show that there is still
> resilience left in the system, and coral cover would have actually
> increased by 0.89% per year during the observation period if it wasn't for
> COTS. So in this case, taking local/regional action can really make a
> difference. We can't easily stop the cyclones and bleaching, which have
> caused 48% and 10% of the observed losses; to reduce climate pressures will
> require global actions to rapidly decarbonise our economies. But in the
> meantime, our hope is that through joint scientific efforts we may be able
> to find a way to reduce the frequency of COTS outbreaks which have caused
> 42% of the observed coral losses. Potential solutions are to regionally
> minimise summer phytoplankton biomass (food for COTS larvae) through
> significant reductions in nutrients washed off the land, and possibly if
> we'll manage to find some effective means of direct intervention. Also,
> allowing fish stocks to return to levels where the fishes
>   are hungry and willing to eat all sorts of spiny, toxic and bad-tasting
> invertebrates would help to restore food webs hence ecological balances (no
> surprises here either!), - probably especially if that happened in areas
> where COTS outbreaks tend to originate in the first place.
> These are big tasks, and of course they are no excuse to not act against
> CO2 pollution at the same time. But if we don't face these tasks and if the
> present trend continues, we may lose again half of what's left of corals on
> the GBR (presently a mean of 13.8% cover) within the next decade.
> Regards
> Katharina Fabricius
> Australian Institute of Marine Science (www.aims.gov.au)
> PMB 3, Townsville Qld 4810, Australia
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2012 16:03:53 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Dean Jacobson <atolldino at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Great Barrier Reef is rapidly losing coral;
>         coral cover could fall to ~5% in the next decade
> To: Tracy Gill <tracy.gill at noaa.gov>,   coral list
>         <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID:
>         <1349305433.47004.YahooMailNeo at web31809.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
> Sadly, I've been expecting, waiting for this tragic process on the GBR?to
> play itself out.? For years I have anticipated that, once the high profile
> regions degrade,?more attention will finally be paid to neglected,
> underappreciated?reef systems that remain healthy, such as the Marshall
> Islands (almost as pristine as the Line Islands); currently the Marshalls
> are getting almost no dive tourism $, but once people realize it may be the
> best of what is left, a surge of such tourism may help locals begin to take
> better care of their reefs.? Majuro, as I have shown, has degraded
> castrastrophically in recent decades, but other atolls (23 of them)?are
> enchantingly intact and healthy.? World travelors are suprised by how
> pristine they are, the best that is left.? And we have live-aboards on
> Majuro!
> ?
> Dean Jacobson
> College of the Marshall Islands
> From: Tracy Gill <tracy.gill at noaa.gov>
> To: coral-list coral-list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa..gov>
> Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2012 3:51 AM
> Subject: [Coral-List] Great Barrier Reef is rapidly losing coral; coral
> cover could fall to ~5% in the next decade
> Great Barrier Reef is rapidly losing coral; coral cover could fall to ~5%
> in the next decade - see story:
> http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/01/australia-reef-idUSL3E8L14K220121001
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