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One-Third of Coral Reefs In Danger of Extinction

July 14, 2008 09:51 AM
by Cara McDonough
Climate change, water pollution, destructive fishing and damage to coastal habitats are all contributing factors, according to the first global scientific assessment of reef-building coral.

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Thirty-nine scientists examined 845 coral reef species for the study, which was published Thursday, reports Discovery News.
 
The death of corals will affect numerous plants and animals that depend on the reefs for food and shelter, and could spell the end of entire ecosystems, warned Kent Carpenter, the lead author of the study.

Roger McManus from Conservation International said that climate change has in particular caused damage to corals, as rising sea temperature weakens the algae that gives underwater sea life its color, making it more prone to disease.

"The loss of the corals will have profound implications for millions of people who depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods," said McManus to Discovery.

Last month, scientists warned that increasing carbon dioxide emissions were affecting the acidity of the ocean's waters, with possibly fatal consequences for marine life, including coral.

"We either reduce our CO2 emission now or many corals will be lost forever," warned Julia Marton-Lefevre, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Coral reefs, the largest living structures on the planet, cover only 1 percent of the world's surface but are home to 25 percent of all marine fish species. The loss of reefs could also have a huge impact on coastal fishing communities.

This year has been declared the International Year of the Reef 2008, according to the International Coral Reef Initiative.

Headline Links: 'Third of Coral Reefs Threatened'

Related Topics: 'Oceans Flounder in Face of Heavy Carbon Emissions'

Reference: Coral reefs, International Year of the Reef 2008

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