Viewings: 4420Scientists are turning our attention to the fact that over the past 30 years, more than 50% of the corals of the Great Barrier reef has been destroyed. According to forecasts, half of the remaining corals can be gone by 2022. This means that the reef will be reduced to one third of its size for half a century. Researchers have proposed an urgent proposal to catalog the remaining flora and fauna. The project, which started with the fact that the images in separate areas of the reef was placed in Google for viewing online Internet users, was also provided the first detailed review of the deep layers of the reef.
While the shallow waters of the Great Barrier reef familiar to scientists and approximately 1.5 million scuba divers and divers who visit this place every year, the overwhelmingly large part of the reef lies deeper than 30 m and is out of reach for all but the professional divers and submarines.
Thus, little is known about life in the depth of the reef, and it is this hidden world hope to disclose researchers Catlin Seaview Survey in the coming months.
During the first phase of the project, which began in September, the researchers visited some of the most remote places of the Great Barrier reef, which is 250 km from the mainland. Because these areas are protected from tourists and can be accessed only if the research permits, most of their wildlife remained completely isolated from humanity.
At depths up to 30 m researchers will visit 20 separate sub-reefs that are part of the Great Barrier formation, using underwater scooters to get through the jungle corals, and a 360-degree panoramic camera with high resolution, to remove 50000 images that give the most detailed picture of the reef ever created. Below this depth, will be working with robots-divers with a remote-controlled submersible to a depth up to 100 m, to provide the first clear view of life in the "twilight zone" of the reef, where a primary dive already opened a number of new species and ecosystems that are very different from those that are just several meters higher.
Going back to the same places from year to year and extending the project to other reefs around the world, scientists hope to get an idea of how climate change and other threats affect millions of different corals and marine species that live on them.
For THC Heeg-Guldberg, head of the research project, which began dive on the reef with a mask and a tube when he was 10 years old in 1969, the study provides the first opportunity to observe the life at such a depth. "More than 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef is practically not investigated, that is surprising," he says. "Now with robots deep dive and some of the technologies that we are developing, there is a potential to reveal these secrets".
The team of Professor Heeg-Guldberg were surrounded by species such as giant perches, bloated fish more than a meter in length, and the bright red coral trout and several species of sharks, which were expelled from the coast tourists.
The diversity of life on the reefs and unexplored nature in deeper waters is that almost every dive researchers within the first two weeks of the phase II project opens a new species or species that are new in Australian waters.
But behind every excitement researchers from new discoveries in deep reef should be painfully aware that their film may soon become the only thing that is left of those species, which they opened. Increase damage from storms and massive "decolourising" events due to rising sea temperatures and increasing the number of predatory sea stars of the form of the crown of Thorns makes the future of coral reefs in the world deeply uncertain. Monstrous echinoderms, covered with poisonous thorns and up to half a meter in size, capable of destroying entire colony reef, passing them through their stomachs and mouths and digested this section corals the size of a pillow in one fell swoop.
The increase in the number of starfish is just the latest example of how global warming threatens life on the reefs. The increase of sea water temperature, which is part of the reef increased by 0.5 degrees Celsius in just 25 years, has led to discoloration, when hot underwater currents create conditions too warm for the survival of corals, and can destroy the entire colony.
The burning of fossil fuels also has a significant impact, since the carbon from the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean and makes the water more acidic. This limits the ability of corals to grow their limestone skeletons, reducing their growth and making them weaker. The increase in ocean acidity associated even with the phenomenon called " syndrome of crazy fish", when fish, apparently mistakenly believe predators harmless to the members of their post. Experts believe that drop of pH prevents their sense of smell, and it is difficult to distinguish one fish from another.
Combined threats, are bleak future for the Barrier reef, and increased frequency of extreme weather conditions is damage to such ecosystems as the Great barrier reef, which according to the forecasts is becoming more serious.
From the statement of Professor Heeg-Goldberg: "Look at the coral reef: live there according to estimates, more than a million species, and we don't know half of them. We know that they are there because we continue to find them - every year there are several types detected for the first time. But as soon as reefs will disappear, we will get what we call "time Joni Mitchell"when You don't know what You have until it disappears. Such rates for some of these species we don't even have time to get the time Joni Mitchell, because these species will remain unsolved and will simply disappear."
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