Northern Red Sea coral expected to survive despite global warming

Israeli scientists believe coral in the Red Sea evolved to survive warmer temperatures when they migrated there 18,000 years ago.


NSFW    EILAT, ISRAEL — Coral reefs near the Israeli city of Eilat are thriving despite years of extensive farm fishing and climate change.

Scientists in Israel have found that coral reefs in the northern Red Sea are unusually resistant to rising sea temperatures and acidification, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology last month.

Coral in the Red Sea had been damaged by cages that were used for fish farming from 1995 to 2008. The cages have since been removed and the coral has flourished, even as coral reefs are in decline nearly everywhere else around the world.

Researchers at the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat theorize that the coral's resistance came about due to natural selection 18,000 years ago, when corals that were able to survive in warmer water migrated from the Indian Ocean through the Bab al-Mandab strait, where water temperatures were higher.

The Associated Press quotes Jacqueline De La Cour, from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Watch, as saying this gives us hope that species would be able to adapt to survive.
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