7 July 2009

Save the corals

David Attenborough is the latest name to call for a reduction in carbon dioxide levels before global warming wipes out the world's coral reefs. Speaking at the Royal Society, he said "A coral reef is the canary in the cage as far as the oceans are concerned. They are the places where the damage is most easily and quickly seen. It is more difficult for us to see what is happening in, for example, the deep ocean or the central expanses of ocean."
So why should we be alarmed? These amazing marine habitats, often called the 'rainforests of the sea' are home to more than a quarter of the world's marine life, and this includes 4000 species of fish. The reefs are fish nurseries, supporting local fish populations, as well protecting coastlines from tidal surges and storm damage.

Corals are particularly vulnerable to global warming, as the slightest increase in sea temperatures can upset the fragile balance on the reef. The reef builders, the coral polyps, live with algae in a mutualistic relationship. The algae supply the coral with food while the coral provides the algae with shelter and protection. The slightest rise in water temperature cause the algae to leave the coral, causing it to become white, the so-called bleaching.

Click on this link to see a further selection of coral reef images from Ecoscene.

Splashdown – a sister company of Ecoscene has great footage of coral reefs. Below is just a taster of what is available. (If you can't see the video click on this link)

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