Whilst coral reefs are sick, dying or dead around most of the planet, an expedition to the fjords of northern Oman has found some that are bucking the trend, offering hope that there may be some reefs that can withstand seismic environmental change.
The waters of the world’s tropical coral reefs are warming and getting more acidic in the face of increased carbon dioxide concentration. Reefs in most parts of the world are dying from such stress. It also appears that the ability of coral reefs to recover from periodic El Niño events (such as the record-breaking one happening right now) is being diminished – because of increasing frequency of warming, pollution, increased sedimentation and disease.
However, the corals of the Musandam Peninsula in northern Oman are the exception to the rule. Here reefs are extremely healthy, covering the shallow waters of the spectacular fjord landscape with extreme variety of growth forms from massive 400-year-old four-metre-high ‘boulder’ coral to the delicate yet important branching and ‘bushy’ corals. Coral cover regularly exceeds 70% in nearshore embayments.
For more information, visit www.biosphere-expeditions.org.