Magazine article Geographical

Rate of Coral Loss Exceeds Amazon Forest Destruction

Magazine article Geographical

Rate of Coral Loss Exceeds Amazon Forest Destruction

Article excerpt

Marine biologists from the University of North Carolina, USA, have drawn together the findings of 6,000 independent studies of more than 2,600 reefs to demonstrate that coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans are being lost at a faster rate than the Amazon rainforest.

Between 1997 and 2003, the rate of coral destruction peaked at two per cent per year; equivalent to the loss of more than 3,000 square kilometres--an area the size of Samoa--of coral every year.

John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig collected data for their study, which was published in the on-line journal Public Library of Science, from 40 years worth of coral studies conducted in the Indo-Pacific region, which represents three quarters of the world's coral resources.

'This is the first study to cover such a wide area for such a long period,' said Professor James Crabbe, an Earthwatch coral researcher and faculty dean at the University of Bedfordshire. 'What really stands out is that it isn't just a recent loss in the Indo-Pacific area, but elsewhere as well. Losses have been accruing over a long period of time.'

Previous studies have demonstrated that coral destruction began to accelerate during the 1990s, but Bruno and his team found that widespread losses were reported earlier than previously thought--during the 1960s, when pollution, deforestation and over-fishing began to cause widespread damage. …

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