Brazil’s Abrolhos coral reef, new discoveries

This video is about the Abrolhos Marine National Park in Brazil.

From the Underwater Times:

Scientists Discover New Reefs Teeming With Marine Life In Brazil; Reef Structure Supports An ‘Abundance Of Fish

July 8, 2008 19:22 EST

Fort Lauderdale, Florida — Scientists announced today the discovery of reef structures they believe doubles the size of the Southern Atlantic Ocean’s largest and richest reef system, the Abrolhos Bank, off the southern coast of Brazil’s Bahia state. The newly discovered area is also far more abundant in marine life than the previously known Abrolhos reef system, one of the world’s most unique and important reefs.

Researchers from Conservation International (CI), Federal University of Espírito Santo and Federal University of Bahia announced their discovery in a paper presented today at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale. “We had some clues from local fishermen that other reefs existed, but not at the scale of what we discovered,” says Rodrigo de Moura, Conservation International Brazil marine specialist and co-author of the paper. “It is very exciting and highly unusual to discover a reef structure this large and harboring such an abundance of fish,” he adds.

The Abrolhos Bank is considered one of the world’s most important reefs because it harbors a high number of marine species found only in Brazil including species of soft corals, mollusks and fish found only in the Abrolhos shelf. The Mussismilia coral genus, a relic group remnant of an ancient coral fauna dating back to the Tertiary period that went extinct long ago elsewhere in the Atlantic, is the dominant coral of the Abrolhos reef, which is structured in unique mushroom-like shapes.

Brazil: Colonies of sun coral multiply rapidly, driving native corals out. Scientists investigate whether the rising of oceanic temperature, combined with increasing activity of the oil and gas industry, might be favoring the invasive species: here.

Some coral reefs resistant to climate change: here.

How soft corals defy their environment: Protein favors calcite formation in aragonite sea: here.

2 thoughts on “Brazil’s Abrolhos coral reef, new discoveries

  1. South Florida coral makes comeback, activists battle over protection

    By Paul Quinlan Palm Beach Post

    8:07 a.m. EDT, August 31, 2009

    WEST PALM BEACH – About a quarter-mile off the condo-lined beaches just north of Port Everglades, a rare and delicate species of coral thought to be nearing extinction just a few years ago now covers an area of ocean floor the size of a city block.

    In fact, against all odds, staghorn coral is thriving all along South Florida’s coastline from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade counties.

    The thickets of studded, white-tipped bronze coral branches form nurseries for than 6,000 marine species, as well as the skeletal foundations of more elaborate reef formations.

    Now the federal government has ordered protections for staghorn coral in a vast swath of ocean floor, bounded on the north by the Boynton Inlet.

    But efforts to extend that zone farther north to the Lake Worth Inlet are running into opposition from the Town of Palm Beach, which says the extended zone could interfere with plans to rebuild its eroded beaches.

    “It’s flourishing up here,” Ed Tichenor, director of the conservation group Palm Beach County Reef Rescue, said of the staghorn coral. He estimates the coral population has increased fivefold since 2006, after the last damaging hurricane season had wiped out much of what was left.

    The stakes are high. South Florida’s reefs sustain an estimated 61,000 jobs and generate more than $5.7 billion in sales and income, mostly for the fishing, diving and tourism industries, the state Department of Environmental Protection says.

    The staghorn’s resurgence marks a sharp turnaround from the 97 percent decline it had experienced since the late 1970s across South Florida, the Keys and the Caribbean.

    Its unlikely return comes despite a near-constant barrage of abuses from humans. Among them, treated sewage from millions of South Floridians pours into the ocean through giant pipelines, while weekend boaters occasionally ground out or drag anchors on the ocean hard bottom.

    “I’m not going to speculate on why this is happening,” Audra Livergood, of the National Marine Fisheries Service, said of the coral renaissance. “The staghorn coral is increasing in number.”

    Under a law that took effect in July, boaters who damage the coral face penalties as high as $1,000 per square meter.

    In November, the fisheries service designated “critical habitat” for the staghorn coral from the Dry Tortugas north to the Boynton Inlet.

    The protections essentially create an extra layer of review for local governments, such as the Town of Palm Beach, that wish to pump sand onto their beaches. It forces them to prove that such projects not only would avoid harming existing coral but also would not affect its habitat — the hard bottom that could give rise to new growth, Tichenor said.

    Within weeks of the feds’ decision to cut off the zone at the Boynton Inlet, Tichenor’s group dispatched divers offshore from the Bath & Tennis Club in Palm Beach to photograph croppings of staghorn coral. The group petitioned to extend the protection zone to Lake Worth Inlet, making the case that significant coral growth occurs there.

    The fisheries service could issue a decision in December, Tichenor said. The city of Lake Worth also has voiced support for the extension.

    The town objected to Reef Rescue’s petition, maintaining that the fisheries service did a “comprehensive, deliberate and thoughtful” job in placing the northern boundary of the protection zone.

    The town’s objection argues that staghorn colonies are “small and uncommon” in the waters north of central Broward County and that the coral “reaches its northern limit based on ecological/environmental factors in Palm Beach County.”

    Tichenor disagrees, citing the evidence his group has found.

    When Reef Rescue started actively looking for the coral in Palm Beach County in 2006, it would rarely find small outcroppings about 6 inches across, Tichenor said.

    “There were not a lot of them. They were very difficult to find,” he said. “Now when we go out, it’s easy to find, because they’re three to four times as big as they were in 2006.”

    Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


  2. Pingback: Save Amazon reef from BP and Total | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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