The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released an important report of the state of coral reefs in US waters. The report was released at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale this week. And, the news is bad: “Almost half the coral reef ecosystems in United States territory are in poor or fair condition, mostly because of rising ocean temperatures.” says the report. Timothy Keeney, NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere, presented the results and said: “If we lose the reefs, you lose a very significant and important habitat.” Twenty-five percent of all marine species need coral reefs to live and grow, while 40 percent of the fish caught commercially use reefs to breed. via CNN. And, here is an AP video report on the news:
These are serious issues. As a scuba diver, fisherman, and sailor, I’ve been very concerned about the state of coral reefs for many years. I’ve mentioned previously that NOAA has a web site called Coral Reef Watch dedicated to the issues of coral reefs. The site contains a coral reef network link which provides updated NOAA information on reefs in US waters and important data such as sea surface temperature for the world’s oceans. They updated the network link earlier this year.
Another useful coral reef dataset is maintained at ReefBase.org. They have a huge database and maps showing the conditions of reefs world-wide. GEB reported two years ago how someone had converted the data for viewing coral reefs in Google Earth. But, the data is now out of date. I’m surprised Reefbase hasn’t converted to Google Earth for themselves – after all, many more people would be likely to see it if they released it for Google Earth and Maps. (The new Finder! service might be a good place to copy over the Reefbase data so it can be viewed in more popular mapping tools.) There is also an organization dedicated to collecting data on coral reefs by helping train anyone who goes near reefs to help monitor the health of the reefs: ReefCheck.org.