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Scientists: Coral Reefs Spared in Tsunami
AP ^ | Wed Dec 28, 2005 | BOB SALSBERG

Posted on 12/28/2005 7:41:38 AM PST by presidio9

Gregory Stone was on a diving expedition off Fiji on December 26, 2004, when the first sketchy reports reached his ship about the undersea earthquake that had spawned a catastrophic tsunami in South Asia. Amid his horror over the human toll, another thought quickly formed in the scientist's mind: What would be the impact of this natural disaster on the region's stunningly beautiful and ecologically critical coral reefs?

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Several months later Stone, vice president of global marine programs for the New England Aquarium, traveled with a team to Phuket, the Thai resort island that became well-known to the world in the days after the tsunami. Over the next two weeks, the team made approximately 500 dives at 56 sites, surveying the reefs to determine how badly they had been damaged and how long they might take to recover.

They found destruction, but also hope.

"In the fullness of time, the tsunami was just another bad day in the life of the coral reef. It will recover," said Stone, who spoke to the Associated Press from New Zealand, site of his latest expedition.

Stone concluded that it was the long-term intervention of humans, and not the momentary havoc wreaked by the tsunami, that posed the greatest threat to the reefs.

"What we found was that the effects of human activity — overfishing, global warming — actually had a stronger impact than the tsunami," he said. "It really woke us up to what is happening to the coral reefs of the world and what people are doing to them."

Wanting a palpable connection to the event, Stone's team chartered the Philkade, a 100-foot vessel that had been ferrying tourists to a popular dive site when the giant wave struck. Though pushed and spun around wildly, the Philkade, its crew and passengers came away remarkably unscathed.

The report, published by the aquarium and in the December issue of National Geographic, found that about 14 percent of the coral reefs in the tsunami zone surveyed by the team were severely damaged or destroyed. Roughly 50 percent sustained moderate damage and 36 percent survived with little or no damage.

In general, shallower reefs were harder hit than those in deeper water.

In some cases, Stone said the damage came from the physical energy of the wave, which dislodged the coral, "rolling it over and over again until it was killed." In other cases, the tsunami bulldozed massive piles of sand, smothering the living coral; and in yet other cases, the coral was damaged by manmade objects, including cars and houses, that were pulled into the ocean by the retreating wave.

Among the divers on the expedition was Alan Dynner, a Boston business executive and chairman of the aquarium's board of trustees. He saw examples of the tsunami waves acting "like a steamroller, pulverizing everything in front of them."

Dynner, an avid diver, said the tsunami tore loose coral heads the size of tractor-trailers and left behind "giant underwater sand dunes," something he had never imagined seeing.

Coral reefs are sometimes called the rain forest of the sea, because of their ecological importance. They are important, Stone said, because "they are the most beautiful, most diverse and also the most fragile part of the ocean."

But they are also critical to the human inhabitants of the region, yielding the fish that are a staple of the local diet. Their colorful beauty, which is created by the symbiotic relationship between the coral animals and algae, attracts tourists who contribute to the local economy.

And, said Stone, researchers have found that coral reefs, when healthy, can act as protective buffers against future tsunamis.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: ecoping; globalwarmingtheory

1 posted on 12/28/2005 7:41:39 AM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9
"What we found was that the effects of human activity — overfishing, global warming — actually had a stronger impact than the tsunami,"

BS. You can't dive a reef and find "global warming damage"

2 posted on 12/28/2005 7:46:55 AM PST by Uncledave
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To: presidio9

Well , this makes complete sense. The wave isn't dangerous until it hits land.


3 posted on 12/28/2005 7:49:21 AM PST by stacytec (Nihilism, its whats for dinner)
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To: Uncledave

BS. You can't dive a reef and find "global warming damage"

_________________________

Absolutely correct. This comment shows clear bias. I am surprised he did not include the ornamental fish industry as a culprit. Must have been a slow day.


4 posted on 12/28/2005 7:56:13 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: Amos the Prophet; Uncledave

The two of you are in denial.

EVERYTHING is caused by Global Warming. And man is the sole cause of it.


5 posted on 12/28/2005 8:00:36 AM PST by presidio9 (Islam Is As Islam Does)
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To: presidio9
EVERYTHING is caused by Global Warming. And man is the sole cause of it.

Just one man - it's all Bush's fault!

6 posted on 12/28/2005 8:04:10 AM PST by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: presidio9
traveled with a team to Phuket

hehehehe...

7 posted on 12/28/2005 8:19:56 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

And, said Stone, researchers have found that coral reefs, when healthy, can act as protective buffers against future tsunamis.

Then why all the concern over the damage to the reefs? Uggh the hypocrisy!

8 posted on 12/28/2005 8:27:09 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: GreenFreeper
" Then why all the concern over the damage to the reefs? Uggh the hypocrisy!"
Perhaps on this one, the concern was warranted to some extent in that they simply feared the reef systems might have been totally damaged in that area. Sounds like it shall recover.
9 posted on 12/28/2005 9:13:13 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: presidio9
Scientists: Coral Reefs Spared in Tsunami

Finally!! I can get a good night's sleep not having to worry about THAT anymore!!!



/sarc
10 posted on 12/28/2005 9:14:03 AM PST by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
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To: Marine_Uncle
Perhaps on this one, the concern was warranted to some extent in that they simply feared the reef systems might have been totally damaged in that area. Sounds like it shall recover.

True, but I always find it amusing that the environmentalists have a blame humans first mindset, then when trying to appeal to the masses they speak of the benefits to humans.

11 posted on 12/28/2005 9:20:45 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: presidio9
"Over the next two weeks, the team made approximately 500 dives at 56 sites, surveying the reefs to determine how badly they had been damaged and how long they might take to recover. "

Yeahhhh, THAT'S IT! We need funding to... survey the coral reefs.... in the tropics.... Yeahhh, to.... make sure they.... are..... STILL THERE! Yeah! THAT'S the ticket! Yeah.... and we need to take.... LOTS OF PICTURES! Yeah... of the TROPICAL FISH! Yeahhhhh, that's it. And we'll need a.... BIG BOAT! Yeahh, that's right, in case..... there's another TSUNAMI! Yeah THAT'S the TICKET!....

12 posted on 12/28/2005 9:27:23 AM PST by Hatteras
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To: GreenFreeper

It's pronounced like in "Pooh," (Winnie, The.)


13 posted on 12/28/2005 9:31:58 AM PST by ASA Vet (Those who know don't talk, those who talk don't know.)
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To: GreenFreeper

Good point. They live in an anything goes world.


14 posted on 12/28/2005 10:57:00 AM PST by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: Uncledave
You can't dive a reef and find "global warming damage"

It's a catch-all phrase for a number of syndromes that may be related to climate change, including air/dustborne coral disease and bleaching (which is a response to heat stress, not necessarily fatal). However, local water quality is a much more important factor to general reef health than climate-related factors.

15 posted on 12/28/2005 11:08:38 AM PST by cogitator
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To: presidio9
His statement that cars and other man made artifacts damaged the reefs proves this guy is a total moron. If you want to start a coral reef where one presently doesn't exist, you sink all kinds of man made materials to make a place where a coral reef will grow and cover over the man made artifacts eventually. This report could fool someone in grade school, but it's not pulling any wool over my eyes.

The man made artifacts may make the coral reefs look like hell, but it gives them plenty of surfaces to attach to and grow even better.
16 posted on 12/28/2005 11:31:33 AM PST by herkbird (Semper Fi)
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To: presidio9

EVERYTHING is caused by Global Warming. And man is the sole cause of it.

_______________

Now I understand.
Man is in absolute and total control of the environment.


17 posted on 12/28/2005 2:52:53 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: Uncledave

I thought it was pretty funny that He could see damage from "global warming" immediately after the tsunnami, but didn't bother to list any of the symptoms or evidence of said global warming.
On the other hand what can you expect from folks who are predicting that global warming is going to cause an ice age!


18 posted on 12/28/2005 2:54:31 PM PST by midwyf (An enviro will demand the last few gallons of gas in the country to drive to protest drilling a well)
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To: presidio9
They found destruction, but also hope.

Well, now I can sleep tonight. < /sarcasm>

19 posted on 12/28/2005 2:54:47 PM PST by Fzob (Why does this tag line keep showing up?)
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To: Amos the Prophet
I totally agree! Bunch of greenie divers over there to cause trouble! They're idiots. They fail to evaluate anything like the natural change because of the wave. All the dead bodies provided an excellent event for wildlife, to gorge on. Shame on those 200,000 plus people for giving their life to feed the critters. I'm sure it was man that caused the quake that caused the wave!


Next week ...Bush's fault for increased sun spot activity this year, thus causing global warming (whatever that is)...
20 posted on 12/29/2005 6:52:19 AM PST by Issaquahking
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To: GreenFreeper

Coral reefs are the marine equivalent of the rainforests. We didn't realize how important they were until they were half-gone.


21 posted on 12/30/2005 9:25:50 AM PST by RightWingAtheist ("Why thank you Mr.Obama, I'm proud to be a Darwinist!")
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