Five international biologists of Simon Fraser University just released a study with the following conclusion, ‘Climate change is eating coral-reef fish out of house and home in the Caribbean. Its role in flattening coral reefs is reducing the region’s biodiversity and increasing its susceptibility to coastal erosion and flooding’ in the paper, Flattening of Caribbean coral reefs: region-wide declines in architectural complexity.
Dr. Isabelle Cote explains, ‘What we call structurally complex reefs are a bit like Swiss cheese: they are full of holes.’ She says climate change has completely flattened the Caribbean’s most complex coral reefs over the last 40 years.
‘These nooks and crannies, both on the surface and inside the reef framework, are used by a great variety of reef fish and invertebrates, for shelter, to hide breeding nests, and for foraging.’
The researchers have discovered that increased coral bleaching, as a result of human-induced climate change, has wiped out complex coral reefs. The lead on the project noted, ‘We thought bleached corals’ dead skeletons continue to shelter reef inhabitants and shield coastlines from storms and hurricanes. Our team has shown that the dead skeletons are collapsing as fast as the reefs are dying…
‘This disturbing trend, combined with ongoing exploitation of various marine species, will speed up the decline of coral reef-dependent marine life and threaten the existence of nearby marine-life-eating coastal communities. These communities will also be more vulnerable to flooding.’
The authors have also reported a decline in coral reef fish in the same Caribbean regions, linking the 2 trends: declining complexity and reef fish abundance.
Links to learn more about our Caribbean coral reefs and their protection:
(source: InSciences Organization)