Coral reefs across the Caribbean have suffered a phenomenal 80% decline in their coral cover during the past three decades, reveals new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, published this week in the international online journal Science Express.
The amount of reef covered by hard corals, the main builders of reef framework, has decreased on average from 50% to just 10% in the last 25 years. Although the majority of the loss occurred in the 1980s, there is no evidence that the rate of coral loss is slowing.
“The feeling among scientists and tourists has long been that Caribbean corals are doing badly, since many people have seen reefs degrade over the years. We are the first to pull information together from across the region and put a hard figure on coral decline. The end result has surprised us. The rate of decline we found exceeds by far the well-publicised rates of loss for tropical forests”, said Toby Gardner, the lead author who compiled the data, and Dr Isabelle Côté, a specialist in tropical marine ecology in UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.
Mary Pallister | alfa
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