Sunday, April 02, 2006

Warning: Read the Signs

I worked as a community organizer in many communities in the Philippines. I helped set-up around 5 marine protected areas (also called marine parks, marine sanctuaries, seascapes etc.). I have been SCUBA diving since 1993 and I have seen many parts of the underwater world of the Philippines. I have observed the first bleaching of reefs in 1999 in the Visayas. Underwater communities are colorful and alive, and one day... the corals turned white...then weeks later gray ....and weeks later were covered with algae. That's what bleaching is all about. Death of coral reefs.

Most of the carbon in the air are fixed by green organisms such as trees, and of course, by corals reefs which are made of calcium carbonates; among other organisms. When trees dies, and when corals dies, organims that are capable of fixing the carbon in the air are reduced. More carbon in the air, will make the earth warmer, changing climates, melting polar caps etc. In short, the devastation of Mother Earth as we know it. And the extinction of many organims, communities, and eventually, probably.. humans.

In today's , CNN let me quote the news:

Caribbean coral suffers record die-off
World's coral reef loss 'an underwater holocaust'
Friday, March 31, 2006; Posted: 10:17 a.m. EST (15:17 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A one-two punch of bleaching from record hot water followed by disease has killed ancient and delicate coral in the biggest loss of reefs scientists have ever seen in Caribbean waters.

Researchers from around the globe are scrambling to figure out the extent of the loss. Early conservative estimates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands find that about one-third of the coral in official monitoring sites has recently died.

"It's an unprecedented die-off," said National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller, who last week checked 40 stations in the Virgin Islands.

"The mortality that we're seeing now is of the extremely slow-growing reef-building corals. These are corals that are the foundation of the reef ... We're talking colonies that were here when Columbus came by have died in the past three to four months."

Some of the devastated coral can never be replaced because it only grows the width of one dime a year, Miller said. Coral reefs are the basis for a multibillion-dollar tourism and commercial fishing economy in the Caribbean. Key fish species use coral as habitat and feeding grounds. Reefs limit the damage from hurricanes and tsunamis. More recently they are being touted as possible sources for new medicines.

If coral reefs die "you lose the goose with golden eggs" that are key parts of small island economies, said Edwin Hernandez-Delgado, a University of Puerto Rico biology researcher.
On Sunday, Hernandez-Delgado found a colony of 800-year-old star coral -- more than 13 feet high -- that had just died in the waters off Puerto Rico.

"We did lose entire colonies," he said. "This is something we have never seen before."

I don't know what to say....OK guys, lets get busy with politics.