Today (June 8) on World Oceans Day, RFI reports alarming news about the reef-building coral species around French islands. Although this article focuses specifically on islands in the Indian Ocean, the situation closely mirrors that of the Caribbean region: concerns on climate change, rising ocean temperature, urbanization of shorelines, pollution, and over-fishing, among other issues.
For the first time, a panel of specialists has assessed all of the reef-building coral species around the French islands of the Indian Ocean. This Monday, June 8, for World Oceans Day, the results of this study conducted by the Museum of Natural History, the French Office for Biodiversity, IFRECOR – French Initiative for Coral Reefs – and IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature – are disturbing.
15% of the building coral species are threatened in Reunion, 12% in Mayotte and 6% in the Îles Éparses [the “Scattered Islands” consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean]. The assessments covered 301 species of hard corals, of those which form reefs, such as fire corals or blue coral.
These corals are animals whose outer skeleton builds reefs. These reefs form a barrier protecting the coasts from erosion and storms, and they are also of invaluable economic importance to coastal countries. Coral reefs are rich in biodiversity, they serve as nurseries and protection for many species of fish, but they are complex ecosystems, which makes them very sensitive to attack.
In Reunion and Mayotte, the threat comes from urbanization of the seaside, which leads to discharges of wastewater and pollution, and from overfishing which unbalances ecosystems. The reefs of the uninhabited Îles Éparses are suffering from water warming caused by climate change. These aggressions drive out the algae that are essential to the life of corals; this is the reason why they bleach and eventually die if the incidents persist.
Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article (in French), see http://www.rfi.fr/fr/science/20200608-journ%C3%A9e-mondiale-oc%C3%A9ans-inqui%C3%A9tude-autour-coraux-constructeurs-r%C3%A9cifs