Gulf Oil Spill Heightens Need for Coral Reef Protection
Source: Terrain.org Blog
May 10, 2010
The recent offshore British Petroleum oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico poses a serious threat to the delicate coral reef ecosystems and associated coastal habitats lining South Florida and the Keys. The advancing oil plume, along with the use of equally toxic oil dispersants used during cleanup efforts, threatens to unleash further stress on an already taxed marine ecosystem left fragile from years of human encroachment.
The Gulf of Mexico is ecologically rich, yet suffers from local threats such as fishing pressures, agricultural run-off, and coastal development. These local threats are known to weaken coral reef ecosystems, making them more susceptible to environmental stress. Studies have shown that resilient reefs - reef systems where locally derived threats are measurably reduced - are better able to combat global environmental threats, such as climate change.
"Well-managed marine protected areas, as can be found in some areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, reduce local threats to reefs and increase their resistance to warming ocean temperatures," said Brian Huse, Executive Director of the Coral Reef Alliance. "The threat posed by the oil spill has the potential to wipe out decades of hard work."
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