MAPPING & DRAWING
UNIQUE UNDERSEA DRAWINGS OF REEFS and CHANELES, WRECKS; CAVES and
OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
Coral reefs are
highly productive and varied habitats, and for the people of many
countries they are of great economic importance. The marine equivalent
to tropical rain forests, corals reefs have evolved for over 500 million
years, survived some of natures greatest upheavals, and formed the
greatest marine structures on Earth, providing a home and feeding
ground for myriad species. In the tropical seas they are oasis's in
an otherwise empty blue ocean, teeming with so much life that words
thousands of miles of the worlds coral reefs remain untouched by the
activities of man, and many even remain unknown due to their remoteness,
a great many are situated close to the shores of increasingly industrialised
nations and in areas with a rapidly developing tourist trade. Another
major problem is deforestation, resulting in an increase in rain run
off reaching the sea, choking coral reefs to death from siltation
and lack of sunlight.
Global warming and the localised effect of wars are yet another issue.
The coral animal is very sensitive to changes in temperature and will
die if the sea temperatures exceed their normal annual maximum or
minimums for a given geographic location.
Red Sea coral
reef, Ras Muhammed, Egypt
Earth has been through many climatic changes over time, there have
been ice ages and periods of global warming. We have now been in a
period of global
warming for the last 10,000 years, since the end of the last ice age.
changes have however always been slow enough for the coral animal
to adapt and evolve to the new conditions. Now however this global
warming cycle has been dramatically accelerated as a result of mans
actions and ignorance, creating a much faster rise in sea surface
The result is that many of these vital coral habitats are under tremendous
stress, in decline or even dead, as a result of sea temperature abnomalies,
sedimentation, overfishing or careless use of by recreational activities.
In some areas large expanses of coral reef stand as stony skeletons,
covered in algae and devoid of fish.
The rate at which coral reefs are being reduced is alarming and action
to reverse this trend must take place urgently. Today it is
vitally important to put into effect more studies, long term monitoring
projects and to educate the populations of countries involved,
as to the widerange of human activities that pose a threat to coral
Many such reefs have never been surveyed; without which, the vital
long term monitoring of their condition presents an almost
impossible task. Oceanic research specializes in the survey and study
of coral reefs and by collaborating with marine biologists
and scientists, a number of accuratehabitat data maps may be produced.
Problems areas may be noted, annual changes observed and sources of