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Coral reefs are probably one of the most important sources that sustain life in the ocean. A team of researchers has recently studied over 2,500 reefs to establish their condition.
It turned out that 15 of them were very healthy, despite the fact that they were situated in unfavorable environmental conditions and close to human populations. According to Josh Cinner, a professor at James Cook University in Australia, these reefs, called bright spots, have a large density of fish.
Besides the 15 bright spots, the team of research also discovered 35 ‘dark spots,’ where fish were much fewer than scientists expected. Then researchers compared the results from the bright spots and the dark spots to establish what makes coral reefs thrive and what harms them.
By doing this, experts want to find a way to tackle overfishing and other causes that lead to coral reef degradation. Coral reefs are ecosystems which represent the home for many species of fish and other marine creatures.
However, human ignorance, climate change, and excessive fishing have critically harmed many of the coral reefs around the world. Many organizations make efforts in preserving coral reefs that are already thriving. Nevertheless, the ones from areas inhabited by humans need to be protected as well.
Besides excessive fishing, fishing practices are also not adequate because many people drag large nets across the ocean floor, damaging the environment while catching fish. The statistics have shown that coral reefs from rich countries are maintained in much better conditions than other places around the world.
It is also worth mentioning that bright spots were found in areas where human population was lower, such as the reefs in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, parts of Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. In addition to this, bright spots also have deeper water, where fish could flee from predators.
Furthermore, these countries have a culture that encourages the protection of coral reefs, so they are more dedicated to this initiative of preserving the marine ecosystem. However, further research is needed to understand better the favorable conditions that make the bright spots thrive. This way, scientists will be able to create these conditions in other regions where reefs are critically damaged.
Reef conservation is crucial in order to have a healthy, safe and balanced ocean ecosystem. In other words, if people do not become more aware of the fact that coral reefs need protection, then the future will no longer be as bright as the 15 spots.