05 Mar 2012:
Protected Mediterranean Reefs
Show a Large Gain in Biomass and Diversity
A study of rocky reefs in the Mediterranean Sea shows that those accorded the highest protection, with all fishing prohibited, not only had a greater abundance and diversity of fish, but also demonstrated robust ecosystem health
all the way down to the level of marine algae. Enric Sala, a National Geographic
explorer-in-residence and marine ecologist at the Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes in Spain, led a study of rocky reefs in numerous regions of the Mediterranean. The study found “remarkable variation in the structure of rocky reef ecosystems,” with a three-decade-old protected area off of Catalonia in Spain showing large numbers of predatory and other fish, while unprotected reefs off the Greek and Turkish coasts were “bare.” The study
, published in the journal PLoS ONE
, found that that there was not a significant difference in ecological health between reefs that were partially protected, allowing some fishing and other activities, and those that had no protection at all. The conclusion, said Sala, is that to fully protect reefs and nurture biodiversity on them, “no take” fishing zones must be established and strictly enforced.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
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Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.