London, May 16: Global warming has had a more devastating effect on some of the world’s finest coral reefs than previously assumed, according to the first report to show the overall impact of the rise of sea temperatures. It has also wiped out some fish species.
Large sections of coral reefs and much of the marine life they supported may be gone for good, according to the international team that studied the long-term effects on ecosystems at 21 sites over 50,000 square metres of reefs.
Earlier studies focused on coral damage but today’s report is the first to show the long-term impact on fish and other creatures of the 1998 event where global warming caused Indian Ocean surface temperatures to increase to unprecedented and sustained levels, killing off (or “bleaching”) more than 90 per cent of the inner Seychelles coral.
The team published its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research in the inner islands of the Seychelles in 1994 and 2005 showed that, while the 1998 event was devastating in the short term, the main long-term impacts result when the damaged reefs were unable to re-seed and recover.