Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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More palm trees, fewer manta rays…

Most of us believe that protecting the underwater world, for example through marine reserves, will be sufficient to save sea creatures. But how wrong we can be…

A large network of complex interaction of animals and their environments has been discovered in an island habitat in 2012. The ecological web includes trees, seabird poop and manta rays.

The researchers found that as non-native palm trees have been planted on the once-pristine island habitat, fewer seabirds are roosting in certain areas, those areas then have less seabird poop to fertilize the soil, fewer nutrients washing into the waters, leading to smaller and fewer plankton in the water, and finally since the plankton are food for the rays, there are fewer rays in those areas.

“This is an incredible cascade,” said researcher Rodolfo Dirzo, of Stanford University, said in a statement. The problems: human intervention. “As an ecologist, I am worried about the extinction of ecological processes.”

 

There are many tourist destinations where the topside habitat has been changed by planting palm trees, removing mangroves and making artificial beaches. For instance in Egypt, where the desert beaches are now all lined with palm trees and feeding reef fish has become a popular pastime for tourists. Unfortunately, damselfish have stopped cultivating their algae, other fish stopped grazing algae…

Tropical birds, such as herons, gannets, pelicans and boobies, feed on reef fish, If there numbers rise or fall, the reefs will change.

It is probably only a matter of time before we discover that we have influenced nature in more ways then we ever expected and in more places than we ever imagined possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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