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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Saying Bye, Bye to the Florida Keys

Saying Bye, Bye to the Florida Keys

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, May 2, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, marine life, sustainability, environment, climate change

    Staghorn corals at Carysfort Reef east of Key Largo, Florida, 1976-2016 ( credit:Chris Langdon/AGU)

Less than a week has passed since the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) released a report on oxygen generation in the worlds oceans. This Journal noted the widespread trend in a post bringing attention to this dangerous ecological situation. Now, researchers from the University of Miami's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, have released a report showing the structural limestone in coral reefs is dissolving on many of the corals in the Florida Keys.

In announcing the research publication, the American Geophysical Union said:

"Every year, the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and become more acidic, the process known as ocean acidification. Projections, based largely on laboratory studies, led scientists to oridingally predict ocean pH would not fall low enough to cause reefs to start dissolving until 2050-2060. Thickets of staghorn corals extensive in 1976 at Carysfort Reef, approximately six nautical miles east of Key Largo, Florida, are gone today and replaced by a structure-less bottom littered with the decaying coral skeletons."

The declining reefs will have a major impact on habitat for numerous fish species. The Florida Keys’ have an estimated commercial and recreational resource value of nearly $8 billion. The field and laboratory efforts to reach the study's conclusions are presented here:

Aldo Leopold, the wildlife researcher, famously commented in his book The Sand County Almanac "that to be an ecologist was to live in a world of wounds". Leopold's words are now taking an expanded meaning with the advent of global ocean acidification and climate change now.

WHB

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