Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wow, So Sweden has a Coral Reef ?

Photo: PhysOrg
A close-up image of Lophelia pertusa coral taken by a remotely operated vehicle 1,450 ft depth in 2009. Although this image was taken in the Gulf of Mexico, the species also lives in Swedish water. 

Norway's Cold Water Coral Reef
Yesterday, News Reports came out that Sweden's Säcken Coral Reef was in danger of going extinct. Most people don't consider Sweden or Norway to be places which have coral reefs off their coasts. Why we all think of coral reefs as being a tropical phenomena. Yet incredibly there are cold water coral species and an abundance of other colourful biodiverse sea life that depend on them.  So what has happened ? Here is yesterday's published info on the ecological disaster happening presently off Sweden's coastline which comes straight from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden on the west coast. Here are some quotes from the article:
"We've known since the mid-1920s that cold water coral reefs exist here in Sweden," says marine biologist and researcher Mikael Dahl. "At that time, corals could be found at three locations in the Koster Fjord. Today, only the Säcken Reef remains, and it's in poor conditions."
So what has happened ? Well the first thing that comes to mind is mankind's ability at polluting and filthing up the environment around us. The Baltic Sea certainly has it's problems with so many nations surrounding it's coastlines and needing to keep economies going. Despite Sweden's reputation for being Eco-Green, they have their issues as do all other nations in this regard. Gothenburg's Harbour for example is typical for any harbour surrounded by City with all it's infrastructure. Storm runoff is almost impossible for any country to contain and authorities are at the mercy of it's citizens to keep their surrounding hygienically clean. Once again, we don't live in a world like that. Silt and other debris certainly are issues as the article referenced, but is there something more ?
"Some of the causes to this are the impact of Trawling and increased sedimentation from eutrophication. Continuous observations with remotely operated vehicles (ROV:s) shows that the health of the reef slowly continues to decline.
"The red list assessment is currently in the 'under immediate threat' category. The Säcken Reef has been protected against trawling for more than a decade, but trawling damage have been observed on the reef several times after legislation was set in place", says Mikael Dahl.
So sedimentation and eutrophocation (pollution chemicals which create nutrient enriched waters - kind of like a Miracle Grow for Algae which gives polluted waters that pea soup green effect) are listed as culprits, but notice also Trawling was referenced. The fishing industry as we know uses net to catch fish as we all are aware, but how could that effect Coral Reefs ? Are not fish swimming up and around in the water and coral reefs on the sea floor ? True, but the trawling referenced here being utilized is a drag net type of fishing to catch a specific bottom dwelling species of fish which is extremely popular with most people in this part of the world.

Atlantic Cod
It is the human love affair with the taste of Cod Fish that causes the problem. Mmmmmm, Cod is one of the world's flavourite fish whose taste is mild and with a dense flaky texture to it's white flesh.  It's also famous for it's well known health food store items known as Cod Liver Oil which is said to be rich in Vitamins A, D, E, and omega-3 fatty acids. The Atlantic Cod is also well known as the main ingredient for Great Britain's Fish & Chips. They inhabit the seas of many northern areas and in many ways are similar to other well known popular seafood cold water seafloor dwelling fish like Flounder and Halibut. Atlantic Cod occupy a varied habitat favouring rough ground and are considered what is called a Demersal Fish, which means they prefer to live and feed near the bottoms of seas and/or lakes.

Norwegian Libas Fishing Trawler
It's for this reason modern giant Trawler Fishing Ships which look more like a military outfitted weapon of war of a Superpower's Navy than the old time humble fishing boat are the main reason seafloor habitats are being destroyed. These nets must be dragged along the bottom scraping and scouring everything in front of it. Virtual deserts are created quite literally under the water where abundant bio-diverse life once existed. When the nets are brought all other life forms are discarded back into the sea while the prized Cod are kept. But the collateral damage has already been done. The Swedish Säcken Coral Reef has been a casualty in all of this. It has been noted that damage is so severe from this irresponsible fishing practice that left to it's own healing, it will never come back. Therefore the plan appears to transplant manually coral species from intact Norwegian reefs as mentioned in the article:

"This means that it is highly unlikely that the Säcken Reef will recover naturally", says Mikael Dahl, who led the study. "Instead, interventions are needed in order to ensure the survival of the reef."
The importance of starting restoration on the basis of the results, researchers from University of Gothenburg have started a restoration project where healthy corals from nearby reefs in Norway are being removed and placed on the Säcken Reef after being genetically characterized. The researchers hope that these corals will survive the process of being transferred, and that they will be able to help with the reestablishment of the reef, through both asexual and sexual reproduction.
The Säcken Reef is spread across an area of 5,000  , but today there is only living coral in an area of around 300-500 
Source of Article: 
 Sweden's only coral reef at risk of dying

Which do you prefer ?

Humans love Fish & Chips, but this favourite food quite possibly could be a thing of the past if this obsessive regular demand for ir doesn't change some time soon. While words/terms like being moderate or setting reasonable limits on one's consumption are often suggested in our modern world's Eco-Green Political Climate, but the reality is we don't truly live in a world like that. People everywhere demand their rights to do as the please. Still, with that in mind, the increasing human population can either limit it's intake by moderation or do without altogether.

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