Coral reefs in western Indian Ocean face extinction by 2070, study claims

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Dec 07, 2021, 05:07 PM(IST)

Coral Reef Photograph:( Others )

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'The collapse of a reef means it becomes functionally extinct as a reef system. You might still find some species there but they won’t be able to construct a reef any more,' the scientists leading the study explained

When experts say global warming is harmful for every creature on this Earth, they mean it. On the same tune, a new assessment has revealed that all coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean are at the risk of collapse in the next 50 years.

As per a study published in the Nature Sustainability journal, reef systems are at risk of becoming extinct by the year 2070. This can cause a huge loss to biodiversity and hamper livelihood and food sources of several hundreds of thousands of people in the neighbouring areas.

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"The collapse of a reef means it becomes functionally extinct as a reef system. You might still find some species there but they won’t be able to construct a reef any more. All of the services we get – coastal protection from sea-level rise, tourism, fisheries, especially for low-income households and communities – are at risk. The tourism sector is huge in east Africa and it depends on heathy reefs," said David Obura, chair of the IUCN corals group, who led the study.

Scientists analysed the health of coral reefs in 10 countries in the neighbouring areas of western Indian ocean. The analysis pointed that coral reefs particularly in the island nations were in grave danger as the water temperature has been alarmingly increasing in these areas due to global heating.

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Due to this the bleaching events — the process in which coral reefs let out algae from their tissue and turn white — is becoming increasingly common.

Reefs in north Seychelles and other areas in the east African coast are being labelled as vulnerable and on the verge of collapse, especially due to overfishing. However, reefs in the Comoros and Mascarene Islands, and eastern and southern Madagascar have been classified as critically endangered.

"The most urgent threat is from climate change up to 50 years from now. But while we estimate 50 years into the future, whether we can meet the 1.5C [rise] future or not depends on what we do in the next 10 years. So, it’s really a 10-year horizon that we have to be concerned about," Obura said.

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