Great Barrier Reef In Decline

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by zenMachine, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    The Great (Dwindling) Barrier Reef Loses Half Its Coral Cover In Under 30 Years – News Watch

    Yet according to this new study, this degradation is less directly linked to the usual suspects. Just 10 percent of the loss was attributable to bleaching. The study found coastal storms were the leading culprit that caused 48 percent of the damage, and the remaining 42 percent was a result of an exploding population of the crown of thorns starfish that preys on coral.

    Don’t mistake these causes for reason to think climate change isn’t responsible. After all, an increase in intensity of coastal storms is undoubtedly a symptom of planetary warming.

    Controlling the starfish problem, it turns out, would allow the reef’s degradation — pegged at losses of between four and eight percent of coral cover per year — to reverse. Even at current levels of temperature and acidity, we could see slow coral growth. The starfish problem may be slightly easier to manage than reversing global emissions of greenhouse gasses, but it will require action sure to be unpopular with agricultural interests. As CNN reports:

    According to the study, the starfish in its larval stage feeds on plankton, populations of which surge when fertilizer runoff floods the coastal ocean waters with nutrients. So plentiful plankton can lead to swarms of hungry starfish.

    The last time the starfish bloomed in 2003, the government spent more than $3 million to try to control the population. No easy feat. But the motivation to succeed may be as great as the Great Barrier Reef itself. In addition to the inherent value of protecting a tremendous natural resource, and the environmental benefits it provides from fish habitat to protection against storm surges, the reef is also a major economic engine in northeast Australia. According to Nick Heath, a spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund Australia, “Sixty thousand jobs in the tourism industry depend on us acting with urgency over the next few years.”

    Oddly, the Australian government is also planning coal and natural gas export facilities that would bring a constant stream of ships across the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
     
  2. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    This is a link a friend posted on fb yesterday.
    Half of Great Barrier Reef has vanished, study finds | Fox News


    It prompted a discussion about climate change and starfish. I doubt the cyclones had much to do with ghg, but we can assume ghg will increase bleaching events.
    As for starfish they are natural, and this is a problem if you want to keep the reef. This was also posted in our local discussion.
    The pro diving comunity is for starfish vindaloo. We should eat what we kill:)
     
  3. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Starfish uses the same receipt as carp?

    Filet the carp and remove the skin and discard the head, guts and skin in a brown paper bag. Lightly season with pepper and soak for 2-3 minutes in milk and one egg. Roll the filets in flour with a hint of Old Bay and deep fry until golden brown. Sit on paper towels to drain and cool. Slice up a turnip and saute in milk with a touch of salt and cook down a quart of kale. Serve turnips, kale with a slice of brown paper bag.​

    Bob Wilson
     
  4. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Those old (and antisocial) enough will have read Edward Abbey 'Abbey's Road' where he talked about the impending doom of the Great Barrier Reef due to Crown of Thorns. Not quite as rapid as forecast, but that starfish will probably succeed eventually.

    based on what I've read the fertilizer runoff (mentioned above) is the big issue, controllable to some degree.

    Perhaps the area is a bit large for divers to apply adequate predation pressure, but if you like the taste of 'sea stars', go get 'em.
     
  5. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    It looks like 3 issues. Starfish/algea #1, chemical runoff (fertilizer) #2, bleaching (temperatures) #3. Bleaching has been estimated at 10%, this can recover slowly if not for hot water events. The chemicals are the easiest man made thing to control, but we seem to not want to do this. There is a big dead zone in the gulf beause of chemicals - pesticides and fertilizer. They have blamed cyclones, but this isn't something that we have any control of, but we can try to kill the starfish:)
     
  6. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    What are starfish predators???
     
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