diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
The survival of coral reefs requires a radical rethink of what conservation means, as well as embracing some of the changes they are undergoing, according to a paper by leading coral reef scientists.
“Helping coral reefs to safely navigate the Anthropocene is a profound challenge for multiscale governance,” the scientists say in a paper published today in the journal Nature.
They argue reef conservation must no longer be seen as an attempt to restore reefs of the past, or conserve their existing values, but rather to identify the parts of reefs that are essential to their continued existence, and protect those.
The paper comes amid increased urgency from conservationists and reef managers around the world, sparked by the worst global bleaching event in recorded history. It caused mass die-offs in every major coral reef region of the world. On the Great Barrier Reef alone, it is estimated that about half the coral was killed in 2016 and 2017.
In the paper, the scientists argue saving the world’s reefs requires the acceptance that the reefs of the future will look very different to those of today, and humans may need to help them adapt – perhaps by intervening to increase the proportion of coral species that are tolerant to rising temperatures…
“Sharks have everything a scientist dreams of. They’re beautiful - God, how beautiful they are! They’re like an impossibly perfect piece of machinery. They’re as graceful as any bird. They’re as mysterious as any animal on earth. There are more than two hundred and fifty species of shark andeveryoneisdifferentfromeveryotherone.” - Peter Benchley
Approximately a quarter of all fish swimming in the waters of Easter Island are endemic, found nowhere else in the world. Pseudolabrus semifasciatus is an endemic wrasse that lives at depths of 30 metres or more. Bright colouration with bars and lines breaks its profile to confuse hungry predators. Photograph: Luiz Rocha/California Academy of Sciences
The Last of its Kind Sharks throughout the world are being destroyed at a devastating rate for shark fin soup and other human causes. This image of a lonely reef shark cruising over a desert of sand was captured to help portray the importance of conservation before we lose them FOREVER. Photo by Laz Ruda.