- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
Indonesia’s coral reefs dying at alarming rate
Question of the Day
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) - Coral that survived the 2004 tsunami is now dying at one of the fastest rates ever recorded because of a dramatic rise in water temperatures off northwestern Indonesia, conservationists said, warning Wednesday that the threat extends to other reefs across Asia.
The Wildlife Conservation Society deployed marine biologists to Aceh province, on the tip of Sumatra island, in May when surface waters in the Andaman Sea peaked at 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius) _ a 7 degree Fahrenheit (4 degree Celsius) rise over long-term averages.
The teams discovered massive bleaching, which occurs when algae living inside coral tissues are expelled. Subsequent surveys carried out together with Australia’s James Cook University and Indonesia’s Syiah Kuala University showed 80 percent of those corals have since died.
Though the scientists have yet to submit the data for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, they and others say the speed and extent of mortality appears to exceed that of other bleachings in recent history. The cause appears to be the warming seas, which to some degree can be blamed on global warming.
“This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region,” said Caleb McClennen, the New York-based group’s marine program manager for Indonesia, noting that many depend on the rich marine life for their food and money earned through tourism.
Coral formations were severely damaged by El Nino-linked warming in 1997 and 1998.
They were just bouncing back when a Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries. The disaster damaged more than a third of Aceh’s reefs, but scientists said they recovered faster than expected, thanks largely to natural colonization and a drop in illegal fishing.
“It’s a disappointing development, particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem,” Stuart Campbell of the Wildlife Conservation Society wrote on their website.
“It is an unfortunate reminder that international efforts to curb the causes and effects of climate change must be made if these sensitive ecosystems and the vulnerable human communities … that depend on them are to adapt and endure,” Campbell wrote.
The high water temperatures _ which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Hotspots website indicates have affected the entire Andaman Sea and beyond _ also occurred soon after the sun was at its zenith and at time of little cloud cover or wind.
Clive Wilkinson, a coordinator at the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network in Australia, called it a “lethal combination” for coral, especially when it continues for more than a month, as was also the case in 1998.
The hotspot has affected reefs across Indonesia as well as in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and it is now pushing its way northward.
“We are in a major heating period, it’s breaking all records, and there are very furious worries now about the Philippines and eventually Taiwan and probably southern Japan,” Wilkinson said. “This is really quite serious.”
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- U.S. troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world