Marine reserves 'good' for coral reefs

Marine reserves give a boost to coral reefs as well as fish stocks, new research shows. Scientists had been concerned that large fish returning to protected areas of the Caribbean could disturb the delicate balance of reefs.

They feared that larger predators would eat the smaller fish which graze on coral and keep down harmful algae. But a study published in the journal Science found that coral in a marine reserve in the Bahamas is flourishing. Rather than eating all the parrotfishes - the main creatures that clean up the reef - the returning predators, such as the Nassau grouper, only eat the smaller species. Parrotfish bigger than about 25 cm (10 inches) long are able to escape the predators' jaws, and do a more efficient job at removing algae from coral, stopping it from being smothered. This is critical for Caribbean reefs, which were hit by the mass death of sea urchins, the main creatures to feed on the algae, in 1983, due to disease.

Via Scuba diving news from South Africa and Worldwide destinations


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