Sunday, January 29, 2023

Corals off the coast of the Florida Keys are in danger of disappearing

Miami, Dec 21: Coral reefs near the coast of the Florida Keys (USA) have declined dramatically over the past 30 years and are at risk of disappearing due to poor water quality, according to a University of Miami (UM) study. .

“Coral assemblages in the near-coastal Florida Keys today present an unprecedented loss of species diversity,” said study authors Zoey Thanopoulou, Kathleen Sullivan Seeley and Jacob Patus, professors at that university. A statement from the organization.

The researchers analyzed water quality over two years in thirteen locations arranged between and about 500 meters from shore along this broad chain of islands, which make up the northernmost point of the United States.

Of the 13 sites near the coast that were the object of the study, which submitted analysis of water samples to Florida’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the team found two without traces of coral, while two others contained eight varieties. Of corals Coral.

The “significant differences” between the two cases support the idea that water quality plays an important role in coral occurrence, the study said.

“Water affects the entire life cycle of a coral. If the water is not of good quality, it will affect the recruitment, growth and reproduction of corals,” said Seeley, who has studied shoreline ecology for three decades.

For more than 25 years the Keys have experienced rapid urban growth, which has led to runoff from streets, often containing fertilizers and other contaminants, as well as leaking septic tanks, changing the composition of sea water. and increased levels of chlorophyll and toxic algae. Get into the water

“We observed higher chlorophyll levels, less dissolved oxygen and a more acidic pH (alkalinity) level as the elements in the water that most affected the absence of corals,” Thanapolu said.

These factors negatively affect water quality as well as coral and seagrass communities near shore, with the study’s authors cautioning that the consequences could extend to coral reefs in deeper waters, “where marine species are concentrated in the ocean.” A quarter thrives.

“The coral communities near the shore are nurseries for some species of fish and lobsters that then migrate to the larger coral reefs,” Thanopoulou explained.

The coral reefs in Florida, of which the coral reefs in the Florida Keys are a part, are the third largest barrier reef in the world.

According to the National Office of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida’s coral reefs support 70,000 jobs and generate approximately $8.5 billion in sales and revenue annually.

Nation World News Desk
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