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Marine life, coral reefs are increasing, surprisingly in Hawaii

Science & TechMarine life, coral reefs are increasing, surprisingly in Hawaii

The number of fish caught just outside a recently extended marine protected area in Hawaii has risen, a sign of strengthened fish populations.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama had enlarged the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument around Hawai’i to 1,510,000 square kilometers causing marine conservationists around the globe to exuberate.

Alan Friedlander, the chief scientist for the National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas project, calls the study a “very rigorous test of spillover from marine protected areas.”

“This is one of the few studies to show actual spillover benefits, which are often difficult to prove. That is great news as it suggests a robust approach we can use to evaluate and improve protected areas elsewhere.”

Coral reefs are known as rain forests of the sea because of the diversity of life found in the habitats created by corals.  About 25% of the ocean’s fish depend on healthy coral reefs. Fishes and other organisms shelter, find food, reproduce, and rear their young in the many nooks and crannies formed by corals.

The Northwest Hawaiian Island coral reefs, which are part of the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument, provide an example of the diversity of life associated with shallow-water reef ecosystems. This area supports more than 7,000 species of fish, invertebrates, plants, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals. Deepwater reefs or mounds are less well known, but also sustain a wide array of sea life in a comparatively bare world.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American scientific and regulatory agency within the United States Department of Commerce that forecasts weather, and monitor oceanic and atmospheric conditions launched’ Mission: Iconic Reefs’ to save Florida Keys coral reefs.

By restoring corals at seven iconic reef sites in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, they attempted to change the trajectory of an entire ecosystem and help save one of the world’s most unique areas for future generations.

NOAA develops a new type of coral nursery to restore damaged reefs using fully formed coral colonies rather than small fragments.

Educators can use the resources in this collection to teach students about the science and beauty of corals. They can use these organisms and ecosystems to teach many scientific concepts including symbiotic relationships, reproduction strategies, food webs, chemistry, biotic and abiotic interactions, human impacts, and more.

Additionally, educators can use corals to teach about conservation and stewardship of the environment. Even if you don’t live near a reef, students can learn that they can help protect coral reefs in the United States and around the world. There are many actions, small and large, that everyone can take to help conserve coral reefs.

Fishers may have felt differently, however, as fishing inside the area is not allowed. Yet by creating a space for dwindling tuna populations to recover, supporters argued, the reserve would benefit fisheries as well.

As populations inside the reserve boundaries steadily increased, they predicted, the fish would spill over into the surrounding areas, increasing the amount of tuna available to catch.

The new study, published in Science, indicates the number of fish caught just outside the MPA is higher now than it used to be, based on data collected between early 2010 and late 2019.

There is hope with these methods, the number of fish in the sea can be increased because, in 2019, there was a fear that the fish in the sea were decreasing.  Resourceful techniques and strategies can prevent a lot of disasters.

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