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The Tsunami's Impacts Beneath the Waves
Emily Gertz, 6 Jan 05

Worth a listen: on today's edition of National Public Radio's Day to Day, science host Ira Flatow echoes (Real Audio link) much of the speculation we've been posting here at WorldChanging on the tsunami's ecological impacts. The notable lack of dead animals suggests that deep sea animals likely evaded the destructive waves by moving offshore, and land animals by moving further inland. But creatures at or depending on the ecological edges--invertebrates and fish that rely on offshore corals for habitat, the corals themselves, rare sea turtle nesting grounds on sand beaches, plants and animals in mangroves--may have fared much worse.

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what actually we can do, after the tsunami impact to the coral lifeform?.i mean what is the best we can do to the coral after tsunami ??

Posted by: ahamad muji on 6 Jan 05

what actually we can do, after the tsunami impact to the coral lifeform?.i mean what is the best we can do to the coral after tsunami ??

Posted by: ahamad muji on 6 Jan 05

I'm not a marine biologist, I just write about them (so coral experts out there, chime in!), but from what I know, corals are difficult to restore--they're very vulnerable to changes and stressors in the environment.

Corals are polyps. Coral colonies can expand by budding, and reproduce by fragmentation (broken bits of coral setting up house away from the main colony), or spawning.

They're slow-growing in the best of times, and globally, these are the worst of times for corals. There are so many anthropogenic (human-made) impacts on them now, that natural events like the tsunamis that they might otherwise withstand (as species, if not particular colonies) are made that much worse.

Warming ocean temperatures are a huge factor. Development on land has a major impact, as silt, agricultural and sewage runoff, and other pollutants generally end up in the water, blocking the light, messing up the nitrogen balance in the water, or being plain old poisonous. Then there is overfishing, which messes with the ecological balance of the reefs, and impacts from tourism--boats and divers--trade in coral for jewelry and decoration...well, you get the point.

The primary restoration technique as far as I know, aside from reducing environmental stressors, is to build artificial structures, artificial reefs, for coral to grow on.

There is this electric treatment being developed that seems promising (although how it would be implemented on a global scale, harder to say), a "mineral accretion reef structure." Essentially, a metal grid has a mild electric current passed through it. The electrification draws minerals out of the seawater, forming limestone deposits on the metal. Corals are then grafted onto the limestone structure, which continues to grow as long as the current is kept up. So, the corals can put all their energy into growing and withstanding stress, rather than building skeletons.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 7 Jan 05

Does anyone know of any positive ecological effects this tsunami had?

Posted by: Kristina on 9 Jan 05

I can only speculate, but imagine that these ecosystems must be adapted to tsunamis which periodically flood inland. Of course, as noted elsewhere, the removal of mangroves may have altered these adaptations.

Still, I expect we'll see ecosystems recover faster and in more interesting ways than expected. That's based on the developments around Mount St. Helens. And like that natural disaster, the tsunami offers an opportunity for researchers to investigate the recovery process (after the more pressing relief and well into the reconstruction process).

Posted by: Mikel Maron on 9 Jan 05

hello, i am the proud owner of one of the leading restaurants in Aceh and now that the tsunami has hit, many of my tourist custumers have left. my business has lowered a whole level and my family are growing tired. and i too, am growing highly annoyed.

Posted by: Pushpa Muhammed on 11 Jan 05

this tsunami thing is shitty i feel extremely sad for those who have lost their beloved ones

Posted by: Johny on 13 Jan 05



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