Reefer Madness: The race to save corals

Publication:   Date: May 10, 2010   View Article

Climate change, coastal development and overfishing have effectively wiped out nearly a fifth of the world’s coral reefs, and by the end of this century they “are unlikely to look much like the reefs that we are familiar with today,” said Peter Mumby, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland in Australia, who envisions smaller and weaker reefs that harbor fewer fish.

“But there will still be reefs and they will still be very important,” he said. “And so what we really have to do is take all the steps we can locally to

Check out seven ways scientists and conservationists are pushing to preserve reefs for future generations.

Ancient Fish Fossil May Rewrite Story of Animal Evolution

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 18, 2006   View Article

A fish that swam on an ancient barrier reef in Australia 380 million years ago had fins and nostrils remarkably similar to the limbs and ears of the first four-limbed creatures to walk on land, according to a new study.

Four-limbed land animals, also known as tetrapods, such as modern amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, evolved from lobed-finned fish.

“Walking” Sharks Among 50 New Species Found in Indonesia Reefs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 18, 2006   View Article

More than 50 new species have been discovered off the coast of Indonesia, including small, slender-bodied sharks that “walk” with their fins along coral reefs, researchers announced today.

Artificial Reefs Made With Sunken Subway Cars, Navy Ships

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 18, 2006   View Article

Along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Georgia, thousands of fish are crammed into subway cars—but they’re going nowhere fast, and recreational fishers couldn’t be happier.

The subway cars, along with armored tanks, naval ships, tugboats, and a large amount of concrete culverts, were strategically dumped in the ocean to serve as artificial reefs.

Predator Fish Help Coral Reefs Rebound, Study Shows

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 5, 2006   View Article

The return of a top predator in a Bahamas marine reserve is proving unexpectedly beneficial to coral reefs there, according to a new study.

The finding is a relief to scientists, who were concerned that the reserve’s population of predatory Nassau grouper would swell at the expense of the already vulnerable reefs, which are quickly disappearing due to disease, hurricanes, and warming oceans.

Toxic Snail Venoms Yielding New Painkillers, Drugs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 14, 2005   View Article

In chronic pain? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself at a corner pharmacy filling a prescription for synthetic snail venom sometime soon.

Last December the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first painkiller derived from a cocktail of potent chemicals produced by cone snails.

Noisy Reefs Preferred by Young Fish, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 7, 2005   View Article

Travel brochures often use coral reef imagery to lure tourists to seemingly tranquil locales. Don’t be fooled: Reefs are anything but quiet. And that’s a welcome fact if you’re a reef fish looking for a place to settle, scientists say.

Many reef fish coordinate their egg laying with the tides. That way, their baby fish, or larvae, drift out to sea upon hatching, explained Stephen Simpson, a tropical reef ecologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach