Management of Bleached and Severely Damaged Coral Reefs
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Coral reefs are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Rivalling terrestrial rainforests in their biological diversity, and providing major economic benefits from fisheries and tourism, coral reefs ecosystems are of global concern. In addition, reefs provide many vital functions in developing countries, especially in Small Island Developing States. Until recently, stresses caused by human activities – such as land-based sources of pollution and destructive fishing practices – were considered to be the primary dangers to coral reefs. While these problems still persist, the last two decades have seen the emergence of yet another, potentially much greater threat. Coral reefs have been affected, with increasing incidence and severity, by coral bleaching, a phenomenon associated with a variety of stresses, especially increased sea water temperatures. Severe and prolonged bleaching can lead to widespread coral mortality, and the unprecedented coral bleaching and mortality event in 1998 affected large areas of coral reef in the Indo-Pacific.
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