Deep coral could res­cue the reefs

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

WILL the deep reef?

A team of re­searchers led by Mu­seum of Trop­i­cal Queens­land (MTQ) has re­vealed that corals liv­ing in deeper reefs could be vi­tal in the global ef­fort to save shal­low coral reefs.

Dur­ing the 2016 bleach­ing event in the Mal­dives, MTQ’s Coral Col­lec­tion Man­ager Dr Paul Muir and a team of ex­perts from Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Mal­dives stud­ied bleach­ing ef­fects in 192 coral species liv­ing in wa­ter depths of three to 30 me­tres.

“We found great vari­a­tion in the ef­fects of bleach­ing between species, and over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that coral bleach­ing re­duces as wa­ter depth in­creases,” Dr Muir said.

“We be­lieve deep corals which are less sus­cep­ti­ble to bleach­ing may be es­sen­tial in min­imis­ing species ex­tinc­tions and pro­vid­ing coral lar­vae to re­seed dam­aged shal­low reefs.”

Dr Muir said the team was pleased to find some corals ap­peared to be adapt­ing to in­creased wa­ter tem­per­a­tures.

“Con­trary to cur­rent be­lief, sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to bleach­ing can vary quite widely within closely re­lated coral species,” Dr Muir said.

“We dis­cov­ered some highly re­sis­tant corals within three species nor­mally con­sid­ered very vul­ner­a­ble to bleach­ing which sug­gests a small num­ber of species may be able to adapt to ris­ing sea tem­per­a­tures.” in­herit the

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