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Coral Triangle could be last bastion for planet’s reefs

The Hindu, New Delhi, 29th November, 2014


JOHNNY LANGENHEIM

Scientists estimate that by 2050, the ocean could be largely devoid of reefs as climate change and our relentless plundering of the sea set in motion geological changes not seen for millions of years.


But according to the Catlin Seaview Survey, a multi-year project to map the world’s coral reefs, there may be evidence that certain reefs in the Coral Triangle could resist longer than others. The project is using cutting-edge camera technology and a big-data approach to establish baselines for key indicators like health, diversity, decline and resilience.


The sponsor, Catlin, is an international insurance company specialising in property and casualty insurance.


“Studying coral reefs provides a better understanding of short-term risks on a local scale,” says Catlin Insurance Group chief executive, Stephen Catlin. “But, more importantly, [it] gives us better information about the long-term risks of climate change on a global scale. As insurers, we need to be ahead of the game.”


Coral reefs represent just 1 per cent of our oceans but support 25 per cent of the species that live in them. This makes south-east Asia’s Coral Triangle bioregion the global epicentre of marine biodiversity on the planet. If the 120 million people who depend on these reefs for their livelihoods disappeared, the attendant loss of food security would drive economic migration on a massive scale.


Over the last few months, Catlin Seaview Survey scientists have been assessing reefs in hotspots throughout the Coral Triangle, which encompasses the territorial waters of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. They believe the bioregion could become one of the last refuges on earth for coral reefs.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/coral-triangle-could-be-last-bastion-for-planets-reefs/article6643978.ece