Coral reefs killed by climate change

If you want to keep the reefs looking like this, you’ll have to do your part.

Putting your head under water on the Great Barrier Reef is looking straight into another world:?the explosion of color, the shapes of the corals and the intense and quick movements of fish in amazingly bright and unexpected spectra of color and character. Some swim solo and some in shoals.

Australia’s vast coral reef on the northeast coast is truly unique and as such listed as World Heritage. But, as all warm water reef building corals worldwide, this important ecosystem is most acutely under threat. The heaviest burdens are warmer water caused by climate change, ocean acidification and pollution.

However, there is hope, according to Nick Heath, Program Leader at WWF Australia.

“I’m happy to say that many reefs are still healthy. But unfortunately up to 700 reefs are at risk from land-based pollution,” he says. Up to 90 percent of this pollution is from farming — the annual wet season floods the Reef with farm pesticide, fertilizer and mud runoff.

One good sign is that the Australian government and the state government of Queensland have committed to cut pollution by 50 percent by 2013. If successful, less pollution will help make the reef become more resilient to global warming and acidification of the ocean, although it will take time.

“So it might get worse before it gets better. It may not be enough, and we may ultimately have to cut water pollution by up to 80 percent by 2020 to save the reef,” says Nick Heath.

Corals are delicate. Warmer and acidic water leads to bleaching of the corals. Farming and cutting down rainforest close to the coast leads to pollution and sediment washing into the sea and “smothering” corals that need light to grow. The inner reefs are worst hit by this and also in worse shape than the outer reefs in the north and south.

Sustainable seafood

Seafood caught on the Great Barrier Reef may end up on your dinner plate. Here are some keys to making sustainable choices:

» Avoid: Species that are long-lived (over 20 years), deep sea living, slow growing, late to sexually maturity, have few young and are big. Example: Sharks, whales, sea turtle and tuna.
» Better choice: Species that are small, fast growing,  mature and multiply quickly and are very productive. Example: Oysters and possibly prawns — but ask about by-catch rates.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.