WWF wants island to be declared Marine Protected Area
The WWF-Pakistan has requested the government to declare Charna Island a Marine Protected Area after coral bleaching was reported on the island.
The news was disclosed by WWF-Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan regional head Dr Tahir Rasheed. This is the first time coral bleaching has been reported near the island.
Coral bleaching is when colorful and vibrant coral turns white because of negative environmental conditions, such as warm sea temperatures.
According to the WWF, coral are bright and colorful because of microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae live within the coral in a mutually beneficial relationship, each helping the other survive. But because of climate change the coral stresses out and expels the algae. As the algae leaves, the coral fades until it looks like it has been bleached.
Dr Rasheed said the coral were first noticed in October by certified underwater diver Khizar Sharif who raised the alarm.
The Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency (BEPA) has sent a team of experts to collect samples for a comprehensive study from both the rocks above and below the water.
The team has collected samples from seven locations on the island. “We are trying to find the reason behind the bleaching,” the agency’s spokesperson said.
Experts have said the underwater temperature has been recorded between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius. If the temperature exceed 28 degrees, it can pose a grave threat for the coral reefs.
One of the main causes highlighted behind the bleaching is the growth of industrial activities that are harming the environment. Industrial waste is usually dumped into the sea also raising its temperatures.
Coral bleaching is a threat to the biodiversity of the island because once this coral dies, reefs rarely come back. With few coral surviving, they struggle to reproduce, and entire reef ecosystems, on which people and wildlife such as fish depend, deteriorate.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, between 2014 and 2017 around 75% of the world’s tropical coral reefs suffered bleaching because of severe heat stress.