• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Emerging Science Note/Coral Cornucopia

Air Date: Week of February 17, 2006

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Bobby Bascomb reports that more than 150 new species of marine life have been discovered on the Saba Bank Atoll, located about 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico.

Transcript

BASCOMB: In January, scientists from Conservation International began a study of the sea life at Saba Bank Atoll, the world’s third largest coral atoll, located about 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico. The cornucopia of diversity discovered there came as shock to everyone involved, including the scientists.

Prior to the expedition, 50 species of fish were known to inhabit the atoll. After just two weeks of research that number jumped to more than 200 fish species. Scientists literally found new varieties of fish every day they went into the water. But, the abundance of life in these corals is not limited to fish. Among the coral dwellers are several commercially valuable species of seaweed that have the potential to bring new economic vitality to the region.

The Smithsonian Institute has declared the Saba Bank Atoll the richest area in the Caribbean basin for seaweed. The unprecedented richness of marine life, and vulnerability of the coral beds, conservationists say, make the Saba Bank Atoll a perfect candidate for protection as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area under the International Maritime Organization.

Granted that designation, the corals would become a “no anchor zone” and large ships – including Trans-Atlantic super tankers - would have to use alternative shipping routes to avoid damaging corals with their anchors and chains.

That’s this week’s note on emerging science. I’m Bobby Bascomb.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.