Great Barrier Reef fish communities are losing color as coral reefs shrink

In a study titled Are BecomingAre fish communities on coral reefs less colorful?", published in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists compared the coloration of fish in healthy parts of a reef with a complex coral ecosystem and the colors of fish from parts where corals have suffered. The team found that fish that live in more complex and diverse coral systems have more color variation than fish communities that swim in warmer waters. Looking back at 27 years of data collected about the ecosystem of Orpheus Island, scientists concluded that the continued decline in coral species in the near future could lead to the complete loss of bright fish species, turning the ocean gray.

According to National Geographic, one of the solutionsfound by scientists is to create a large number of marine protected areas, which, in fact, will make these parts of the ocean national parks. The scientists said the measures include the creation of marine sanctuaries where fishing, mining and recreational activities will be prohibited. All these actions should make coral ecosystems healthier and more resilient. In addition, scientists are studying forms of natural selection to save some types of coral reefs. Scientists have collected coral specimens that have survived environmental stresses and are breeding them by hand before reattaching them to the reef.

Similar efforts have also been made inBahamas, however, scientists have focused on corals with robust genes that could make them natural candidates for restoration projects. These coral species were found to have survived the 2015 heat wave unlike other coral reefs. This gives hope for the restoration of the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef.

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