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Scuba Science 8 - Coral Reefs: Traveling Back in Time with Scuba Diving

Enric Sala National Geographic Society Coral reefs, the rainforests of the sea, are on a global trajectory of decline due to a lethal combination of overfishing, pollution, and global warming. Most recent scientific studies on coral reefs have been carried out in reefs that are degraded to some level, thus our baseline of what was natural is biased, and our understanding of our impacts is limited. During a series of expeditions to remote islands in the Central Pacific, we have filled this gap and obtained a rigorous baseline of what coral reefs looked like hundreds of years ago. Using scuba diving, we have described the entire coral reef ecosystem from microbes to sharks. By replicating these studies on reefs along a gradient of human presence, we have inferred what the consequences of our actions are on the dynamics and resilience of coral reefs. The main conclusion is that intact reefs are more likely to recover from the short-term effects of warming. Recorded 05/24/10 08:18AM
Length: 14:17

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