Sixty percent of the Caribbean Sea was once covered with coral, which today occupy only 10 percent said Emeritus Professor Jeremy Jackson, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, in his speech to the symposium, which was held in the Australian city of Cairns. “Corals are crucial and threatened ecosystems.”
The elevation of the sea is just one of those threats, as well as overfishing, pollution and bleaching caused by global warming, he said. A colorful piece of coral is made up of thousands of tiny animals, polyps that create calcareous skeletons around cup-shaped, using calcium from seawater. The colors are provided by algae living in symbiosis with them.
Generation after generation of coral polyps live, build a skeleton of the reef and then will die. This habitat is created for themselves and for about 30 percent of all species that inhabit the oceans. When corals withstand very high temperatures or contamination, begin to fade by the death of the algae, they become vulnerable to disease and die if the whitening lasts too.
Weak or dead corals are broken and debris are carried away by waves and storms. It is possible that Jamaica is the Caribbean country where reefs have deteriorated further. Exist only between five and 10 percent, because of pollution and overfishing. “This is because the population is very poor,” says Jackson. However, each island is different.
The Caribbean also Bonaire and Curaçao maintained between 20 and 30 percent of its original area, which could be expanded thanks to good management, the establishment of zones where fishing is prohibited, reducing pollution from land and controlled access of tourists, he says.
“The reefs provide coastal protection, food, tourism and other important services, and losing them will have enormous consequences for human society,” says Roberto Iglesias Prieto, researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology, National Autonomous University of Mexico.
A study conducted in Belize estimated that without reefs protect coastal communities, storm damage could cause $ 240 million. About 1,000 million people depend directly or indirectly on reefs for their livelihood, and more than 2,000 million are in the seafood main source of protein. The second is the largest reef in the world is the Mesoamerican, which extends along 700 kilometers off the coast of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras in the Caribbean Sea.
It consists of more than 60 different types of corals. Uncontrolled tourism, increased land-based pollution, fishing irrational, amisión greenhouse gas and mining activities threaten these formations. In many tropical reefs, growth and reproduction of fish declines when water temperatures rise just two or three degrees, abounds Philip Munday, a researcher at the School of Marine and Tropical Biology of the University in Australia James Cook.
A seemingly small change, but unexpected, is that excess carbon dioxide is affecting the acidity of the oceans, which have absorbed about a third of all human emissions of this greenhouse gas. This condition affects a large madida Coral Sea in the Caribbean Sea, and would certainly ben take action regarding the relationship of the countries of the region with these important ecosystems.
Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA24