Some Caribbean corals resist acidification

Ocean acidification: a direct result of rising carbon levels that we know is bad for tropical corals all over the world, leading to serious bleaching and colony degradation. However, now all corals are going to take this abuse sitting down. New research has revealed that Caribbean gorgonian corals may be highly resistant to ocean acidification, shrugging off the same conditions that are damaging other reefs.

That’s at least according to a study recently published in the journal Coral Reefs, which details how shallow water soft-corals, known as gorgonians (Eunicea fusca), are still able to calcify and grow even in elevated acidity.

“Our results suggest that gorgonian coral may be more resilient than other reef-dwelling species to the ocean acidification changes that are expected to occur in the oceans as a result of climate change,” Chris Langdon, Director of the Coral Reefs and Climate Change Laboratory at the University of Miami, said in a statement. “These findings will allow us to better predict the future composition of coral reef communities under the current ‘business-as-usual scenario.'”

Nature World News previously reported how continued damage that intense ocean acidification inflicts on our reefs could be costing the world trillions of dollars in declining ecosystems and coastal infrastructure. This is expected to worsen as acidity is projected to rise by a stunning 26 percent by the end of the century.

However, according to an assessment of E. fusca specimens from Big Pine Shoals in the Florida Keys in various simulated raised carbon levels, gorgonians will be able to maintain their current rate of growth into the 22nd century thanks to their small and hearty nature.

This good news helps support other work which suggests that some small and fast-growing species of tropical coral are thriving in increased temperature and acidity. As large calcite reef species continue to decline due to the ‘double whammy’ of rising acidity, these smaller cousins are moving in, rising in population. Other species have even learned to hide from acidification, taking refuge in unique mangrove environments.

Brian Stallard, Nature World News, 8 December 2014. Article.

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