Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Warming seas, disease take toll on coral reefs

John Bruno isn't attending the U.N. climate talks being held in Bali, Indonesia, but he does have some advice for any delegates looking to take in the resort's famed reefs: enjoy it now, because if sea temperatures continue to rise, expect to see more — and more severe — disease outbreaks that wipe out corals.

Bruno has the credentials to back up his advice. A marine biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he co-authored two 2007 studies on rapid coral decline and on a link between coral disease and global warming.


One study found that coral coverage in the Indo-Pacific — an area stretching from Indonesia’s Sumatra island to French Polynesia — dropped 20 percent in the past two decades. That rate is much higher than Bruno's team had expected.


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