Having lost the ability to reproduce, ‘Coral zombies’ may spell doom for coral reefs around world

GR.– Human damage to coral comes from a growing a list of lethal chemicals.  We know that the oceans are absorbing more CO2 and that this increases acidity and weakens coral.  We know that runoff from cities, farms, and mines carries toxic chemicals that kill corals.  Now we can add sunblock to the list of lethal human impacts.  Changing the activities causing these impacts is a daunting prospect.  It requires that we stop burning fossil fuel, make huge investments in water filtration, and gain the cooperation of divers and fishermen.  Can we do all that in time to save Earth’s coral?

Phys.org.– “Scientists, like UCF Biologist John Fauth, have known for a while that coral reefs around the world are dying, and in a worst-case scenario they were counting on large, healthy-looking corals to repopulate. But a new study presented at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu today shows that these seemingly healthy colonies are ‘Coral Zombies’ with no reproductive ability, which makes them useless in a recovery effort. Credit: UCF: Nick Russett

“Basically the places with the heaviest tourism had the most severe damage,” Fauth said. He dove and took samples from all of the Puerto Rican sites in the study, along with marine biologists Michael Nemeth and Katie Flynn.

“This study adds to growing evidence that coral reefs frequented by divers are in peril. Last year a study found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound in sunscreen, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills coral, it causes DNA damage in adult corral and deforms the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists. Fauth was a co-investigator of that 2015 study, which was published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

“Oxybenzone also causes coral bleaching, which is a prime cause of coral mortality worldwide. Corals bleach when they lose or expel the algae that normally live inside them, thus losing a valuable source of nutrition.”  Continue reading:  ‘Coral zombies’ may spell doom for coral reefs around world

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