Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific are disappearing twice as fast as tropical rainforests, say researchers. They have completed the first comprehensive survey of coral reefs in this region, which is home to 75% of the world's reefs.
John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US compiled data from 6000 studies that between them tracked the fate of 2600 reefs in the Indo-Pacific between 1968 and 2004. They used the extent to which reefs were covered by live coral as an indication of their health.
"The corals themselves build their limestone foundation, so if the surface of the reef is not covered with live tissue that is continually secreting it, the reef can erode fairly quickly," explains Selig.
She and Bruno found that coral cover declined by 1% per year on average between 1968 and 2004. For comparison, tropical rainforests declined by 0.4% per year between 1990 and 1997 (Science, vol 297 p 999).
Read the full story: Reefs on the Brink
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