Washington: International marine scientists have said that coral reefs across Indian Ocean are dying; the team has highlighted the urgency of controlling global carbon emissions.
The reefs are dying following a bleaching event that extends from the Seychelles in the west to Sulawesi and the Philippines in the east and include reefs in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and many sites in western and eastern Indonesia.
"It is certainly the worst coral die-off we have seen since 1998. It may prove to be the worst such event known to science," said Dr Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook Universities.So far around 80 percent of Acropora colonies and 50 per cent of colonies from other species have died since the outbreak began in May this year," he added.
This means coral cover in the region could drop from an average of 50percent to around 10percent, and the spatial scale of the event could mean it will take years to recover, striking at local fishing and regional tourism industries, he said.
"Also the reefs of the region support tens of millions of people who make their living from the sea and so plays a vital role in both the regional economy and political stability," Baird explained.
"While it may take up to two years for some fish species to be affected by the loss of coral habitat, fisheries yields will decline and this combined with a drop in the number of SCUBA divers visiting could have major long-term effects on the local economy," he added.
The cause of the bleaching event was a large pool of super-hot water which swept into the eastern Indian Ocean region several months ago, shocking the corals and causing them to shed the symbiotic algae that nourish them, thereby losing color and "bleaching". If the corals do not regain their algae they starve to death.