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Why in News?

  • The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) with the theme “Reef for Life” was inaugurated by the Union Environment Ministry at Bangaram coral Island of Territory of Lakshadweep.

STAPCOR:

  • The effect of climate change and global warming along with El-Nino on the corals has led to heavy bleaching internationally during the year 1998.
  • This led to the foundation of STAPCOR with a decision to have a international conference in every 10 years to review the status and progress of coral reefs all over the world.

3rd International Year of the Reef 2018:

  • The first IYOR was designated in 1997 in response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems.
  • The hope was to increase awareness of the value of and threats to coral reefs, and to promote conservation, research and management efforts on a global scale.
  • Over 225 organizations in 50 countries and territories participated, publishing over 700 articles in papers and magazines and undertaking hundreds of scientific surveys.
  • This effort was repeated 11 years later, when 2007 was designated as the second IYOR.

The goals of the 3rd IYOR – 2018 are to:

  • Strengthen awareness about ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Improve understanding of the critical threats to reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
  • Generate urgent action to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.

Corals:

  • Corals are invertebrates belonging to a large group of colourful and fascinating animals called Cnidarians. Other animals in this group include jellyfish and sea anemones.
  • Each individual coral animal is called a polyp, and most live in groups of hundreds to thousands of genetically identical polyps that form a ‘colony’. The colony is created by a process called budding, where the original polyp literally grows copies of itself.

Coral reefs:

  • Coral reefs have evolved on earth over the past 200 to 300 million years, and have developed a unique and highly evolved form of symbiosis.
  • Coral polyps have developed this relationship with tiny single-celled algae known as zooxanthellae. Inside the tissues of each coral polyp live these zooxanthellae, sharing space and nutrients. This symbiosis between plant and animal also contributes to the brilliant colors of coral that can be seen while diving on a reef.
  • It is the importance of light that drives corals to compete for space on the sea floor, and so constantly pushes the limits of their physiological tolerances in a competitive environment among so many different species.
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