December 28, 2008

Coral Reefs Recovering After Tsunami

Scientists at the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) report a rapid recovery in coral reefs off the coast of Indonesia damaged by the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Some had feared the reefs might take a decade to recover. However, the WCS team found evidence of fast growth of young corals in some badly hit areas in the Indian Ocean.  A WCS spokesman reported that reefs damaged prior to the tsunami were also recovering.

Some communities are foregoing destructive fishing techniques and transplanting corals into damaged areas, the WCS added.

"This is a great story of ecosystem resilience and recovery," Stuart Campbell, co-coordinator of the WCS' Indonesia Marine Program, told BBC News.

"These findings provide new insights into coral recovery processes that can help us manage coral reefs in the face of climate change."

University of Queensland reef expert Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who did not participate in the study, was not surprised by the findings, saying corals typically recover if not impacted by coastal development and fishing.

"We are seeing similar things around the southern Great Barrier Reef where reefs that experience major catastrophe can bounce back quite quickly," Hoegh-Guldberg told the Associated Press.

The 2004 Asian tsunami killed roughly 230,000 people.  Nations throughout the region have been remembering the tragedy this week. Sri Lanka declared a two-minute silence in memory of the dead, while prayers were said in Indonesia, Thailand and India on Friday.


Image Caption: Four years after the tsunami, corals are thriving in this transplant site on Achech, Indonesia. Credit: Rizya Legawa


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