Survey of 6,000 Coral Reefs Uncovers 15 ‘Bright Spots’

Survey of 6,000 Coral Reefs Uncovers 15 ‘Bright Spots’
June 22 09:08 2016 Print This Article

(FUTURITY) – Researchers have discovered a handful of “bright spots” among the world’s embattled coral reefs, suggesting that a radical new approach to conservation may have promise.

In one of the largest global studies of its kind, researchers reviewed more than 6,000 reef surveys in 46 countries across the globe, and discovered 15 bright spots—places where, against all odds, there were a lot more fish on coral reefs than expected.

“Given the widespread depletion of coral reef fisheries globally, we were really excited to find these bright spots that were fairing much better than we anticipated,” says lead author Josh Cinner, a professor with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

Bright spots are reefs with more fish than expected based on their exposure to factors such as human population, poverty, and unfavorable environmental conditions. They are not necessarily pristine reefs, but rather ones that have more fish than they should, given the pressures they face.

Edward Allison, a professor of marine and environmental affairs at the University of Washington contributed ideas from his studies of international development and business organizations on ways to identify coral reefs that were doing better ecologically than expected, given global and local pressures they are under.

“This allows us to focus on these areas to learn lessons which might help conserve or restore other reefs, a particularly urgent task given the mounting pressure from global change,” Allison says.

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