12 Sep '11, 6pm

Natural disasters pose threat to coral reefs

Natural disasters pose threat to coral reefs

Ocean acidification isn't the only problem coral reefs are facing. Natural disasters like earthquakes can also harm these marine ecosystems. Researchers have found that in May of 2009, an earthquake in the west Caribbean destroyed half of the Belizean Barrier Reef lagoon's corals reefs. The 7.3-magnitude earthquake launched the lagoonal reefs into deeper waters, essentially causing a coral reef avalanche. The Belizean Barrier Reef is the second largest reef ecosystem in the world, second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Prior to the earthquake, mass mortality events had dramatically altered the reef ecosystem over the course of 25 years. White band disease, a bacterial infection, had killed off the dominant staghorn coral. Strikingly, this species had held dominance for almost 4,000 years. When El Nino brought high temperatures, the subsequent dominant species, lett...

Full article: http://www.earthtimes.org/nature/natural-disasters-pose-t...

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