Marine reserves give a boost to coral reefs
A new study by University of Exeter researchers has found that marine reserves not only protect the fish that live in them, but may also help improve the health of coral reefs.india Updated: Jan 09, 2006 11:57 IST
A new study by University of Exeter researchers has found that marine reserves not only protect the fish that live in them, but may also help improve the health of coral reefs.
According to the study, published in the journal Science, the researchers looked at how a marine park in the Bahamas was affected by the return of the reef's top predator, the Nassau Grouper.
They were concerned that an increase in groupers could have an adverse effect, because they feed on parrotfish which play a vital role in maintaining the reef ecosystem. “More than 20 years ago sea urchins in the Caribbean were wiped out by disease, leaving parrotfish as the main grazer of reef surfaces.
The fish use their teeth to remove seaweed from the reef which allows new corals to settle and grow,” said lead researchers Peter Mumby.
“This grazing process is essential to the health of the system. Caribbean reefs are still trying to recover from the devastating effects of an El Nino bleaching event in 1998 which caused widespread damage to coral around the world,” Mumby added. The researchers found that marine reserves might provide exactly the right conditions to allow this to happen.