UH Joins Largest-Ever Study of Coral

September 18, 2019, 10:45 AM HST · Updated September 18, 10:45 AM
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A group of researchers is hoping to save coral reef communities in the Indo-Pacific region with the “largest study ever conducted of its kind.”

Among those involved in the project are University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers Erik Franklin, Camilo Mora, and Kuʻulei Rodgers. Over 80 authors from around the world surveyed coral abundance on more than 2,500 reefs across 44 countries in the Indian and Pacific oceans throughout the project. 

The study revealed that most of the reefs housed functioning coral communities. Researchers also noticed that covers of living species gave these reefs distinctive shapes.

“The study provides a roadmap for reef managers to identify areas that can benefit from active management practices at a local scale while also preparing for potential future impacts from increasing climate hazards,” Franklin said in a press release. 

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According to the release, a rise in carbon emissions, overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable development have led to predictions of a bleak future for tropical coral reefs and the millions of people who depend on them. 

“The good news is that functioning coral reefs still exist, and our study shows that it is not too late to save them,” the studyʻs lead author Dr. Emily Darling said.  

In light of the studyʻs findings, the researchers are advising coastal communities to transition away from dependence on reefs that are no longer functioning. The authors also stressed that establishing protected areas and other restrictions locally can significantly help protect coral reefs. 

However, the authors noted that in addition to local management, there is an immediate need for worldwide efforts to limit carbon emissions. 

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