Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Will Corals Survive Stormy Future?

A new study supported by Earthwatch, the international environmental charity, reveals that hurricanes and storms limit the ability of corals in Belize to recruit new coral into their communities

“Increasing evidence now shows that storms are becoming more intense due to climate change,” said lead author and Earthwatch scientist Professor James Crabbe from the University of Bedfordshire. Coral reefs — which can grow to be thousands of years old — form and grow when free-swimming coral larvae in the ocean attach to rocks or other hard surfaces and begin to develop. Intense storms can wipe out this recruitment process.

“Storms therefore threaten the survival of the entire reef itself,” said Crabbe, who found similar results in another Earthwatch-supported study in Jamaica a few years ago. The new study will appear in the May issue of Marine Environmental Research.

“If the storms don’t destroy corals outright, they render them more susceptible to disease and that is certainly apparent on the Belize reefs,” said Crabbe, who is doing a lecture tour related to this work throughout 2008, deemed International Year of the Reef by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).

The study holds implications for marine park managers. Crabbe explains, “They may need to assist coral recruitment and settlement [in hurricane years] by establishing coral nurseries and then placing larvae in the reef at discrete locations or by setting up artificial reef blocks to help the corals survive.”

Crabbe conducted the research in 2006 and 2007 with Edwin Martinez, Earthwatch Field Director in Belize and co-author, with help from young local scientists and Earthwatch volunteers.

The team measured the size of more than 520 non-branching coral mounds in two major coral reef areas in southern Belize: the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a world heritage site, and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. In addition to providing habitat for an array of marine life, corals buffer coastal zones from erosive wave energy.

Crabbe’s team determined the surface area covered by the corals and entered the growth rates of the corals into a computer model to determine when in history the coral colonies first settled. They compared that with hurricane and storm data and as predicted, coral recruitment was much lower during storm years.

“The rapid growth of the tourism industry in Belize over the past five years tops the list of threats to the corals and agricultural runoff is a close second”, explains Martinez. “This study makes it clear that climate change is moving quickly up the list.”

For more information, images and interviews please contact Zoe Gamble, Earthwatch PR Manager, + 44 (0) 1865 318852 / + 44 (0) 7725690469 /

•Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is an international environmental organisation whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

•Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is the European affiliate of Earthwatch Institute, which is based in the USA and founded in Boston in 1971. Other affiliate offices in the Earthwatch Institute network are based in Australia and Japan.

•Earthwatch makes research grants of over £3 million in support of around 130 projects each year. Earthwatch recruits volunteers from the general public and partner organisations to share the costs of a research project, and to join it as research assistants. In the past 30 years, Earthwatch field assistants have contributed 10 million man-hours to research internationally.

•Earthwatch projects are divided into four priority research areas including sustainable resource management, climate change, oceans and sustainable cultures.

Zoe Gamble | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>