2 May 2008

Sea change

Some coral species can be amazingly resilient even in the wake of massive nuclear explosions. But bad news about coral reefs and, more widely, the state of the seas remains the default state. In this 'official' International Year of the Reef, and unofficial [deep sea] Coral Week, what pointers for hope?

Andrew Baird and Jeffrey A. Maynard have argued that an analysis by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg et al does not present sufficient evidence to conclude that corals will unable to adapt to climate change and ocean acidification. Hoegh-Guldberg and co respond here.

A recently published study by Deborah Iglesias-Rodríguez suggests that an important organism, Emiliania huxleyi, may actually thrive in a high CO2 world. But Iglesias-Rodríguez says the "hopeful news for 'Ehux' does not overturn the gloomy predictions for corals or negate ocean acidification as an impending ecological disruption" (see also V. Fabry pdf). And Thomas Goreau says that the fact that the cultures were grown under high "nutrient-replete conditions” should be a "serious caveat".

Coral restoration efforts - such as these or these - may be the best hope, where also combined with expanded and effective protected areas.

[P.S. See also Expanding Oxygen-Minimum Zones in the Tropical Oceans, blogged on 6 May as Ocean 'deserts' are increasing as planet warms.]

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