Climate change refuge for corals discovered (and how we can protect it right now)

Phys Org –

WCS scientists have discovered a refuge for corals where the environment protects otherwise sensitive species to the increasing severity of climate change. The bad news is that the reefs are showing signs of being overfished and weak compliance with local fisheries laws needs to be reversed to maintain the fish that help to keep reefs healthy. The scientists describe their findings in the journal Ecosphere.

The authors say reefs located in northern Mozambique and the Quirimbas Islands supports two types of refuges and a gradient of environments that create the potential for corals to adapt to climate change.

The first refuge is an environment that has enough variability for corals to adapt but lacks temperature extremes that would kill them. A second is deeper, cooler water but with the full spectrum of light that allows many species to thrive and avoid heat stress.

The second refuge area is associated with shipping channels that support coastal people and centers of heavy fishing. The authors found that many nearby reefs were not fished sustainably and fishers were therefore migrating to the second refuge to find profitable fishing.

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