By Stephen Leahy
FORT LAUDERDALE, U.S., July 12 2008 (IPS)
The rapid decline of coral reefs around the world offers a potent warning that entire ecosystems can collapse due to human activities, although there is hope for reefs if immediate action is taken, coral experts agreed at the conclusion of a five-day international meeting Friday.
“Reefs are in serious trouble, but don’t write them off,” Terry Hughes, a marine ecologist at Australia’s James Cook University told 3,000 scientists, conservationists and policy makers attending at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“We can save reefs if we take immediate action,” Hughes said.
More than 20 percent of the world’s reefs have died, and large areas are failing due to a combination of climate change, overfishing, pollution and sea level rise. Most of the fabulous corals that attract tourists to the Caribbean are gone and half of remaining reefs in the U.S. are in serious decline.
[Update 08/10 – Here’s a list of Stephen Leahy’s latest articles on corals Coral Reefs and Acid Oceans Series]
“We may be facing ocean deserts in the future,” said Guillermo Dias-Pulido of Australia’s University of Queensland.