Panaji: Scientists have stressed on a pro-active role by concerned agencies for conserving coral reefs that are currently facing wrath of human and environmental interventions.
"Destructive exploitation methods while fishing, poor land use, careless tourism, damages caused by navigation, environmental impact, climate damages and diseases cause degradation of coral reefs," senior scientist at Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Dr J Ravindran said.
He was addressing policy-makers of SAARC countries at Port Blair during a five-day workshop held last week on 'Climate change impact on coral reef'.
The workshop was organised by NIO for SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre in which policy-makers and scientists from four SAARC nations - India, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, participated.
Listing various diseases that destroy the corals silently, Ravindran said NIO investigated the coral disease 'Pink-Line Syndrome' in hard corals and proved its etiology.
"There is requirement of organisational settings and legal aspects to ensure the conservation of coral reefs in India by establishing marine protected areas and marine national parks," he said.
"The pro-active conservations through specific intervention should be done to protect coral reefs," the scientist said, pointing out one of the proactive measures - coral transplantation method - that was standardised and used by Lakshadweep Coral Reef Monitoring Network (LCRMN).
The scientific community should attempt to develop more versatile methods for conservation covering all type of corals, he stressed. NIO's chief scientist Dr S Prasanna Kumar said that
Arabian sea is a special tropical basin compared to tropical regions in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.
The northern part of the Arabian Sea is landlocked, its waters are not cooled by the Arctic region, he said.
"Due to the seasonally reversing monsoon winds, the currents in the Arabian Sea also reverse seasonally. Since Lakshadweep coral reefs are located in the monsoon regime along the western Arabian Sea, it experiences summer cooling due to upwelling of cold subsurface waters and strong warming during spring," Kumar said.
In addition to this change in temperature, the coral reefs also experience seasonal change in salinity.
During winters, the coral reefs will experience low salinity waters brought from Bay of Bengal flowing northward along western Arabian Sea. In the summer, they experience high salinity waters brought from northern Arabian Sea, he said.
Hence, the Lakshadweep corals would have adapted to these seasonally changing environmental conditions, he added.
At the workshop, the scientists said that coral reefs can be mapped and monitored through remote-sensing technology.
NIO's senior scientist R Mani Murali highlighted the capability of remote-sensing, mapping and monitoring of coral reefs.
He explained how spectral responses of coral reef in different wavelengths are used for its health and other assessments through remote-sensing of coastal ecosystems.
Optical remote-sensing methods are widely used to map reef geomorphology, habitats and biotopes, Murali said.
Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. They are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients.