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Mexico tourism boom kills coral quicker than climate change

(From scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com)- Dainty blue fish still dart around coral shaped like antlers near the Mexican resort of Cancun, but pollution is threatening one of the world”s largest reefs.Parts of the reef, nestled in turquoise waters, have died, and algae – which feed on sewage residues flowing out of the fast-growing hotels in the tourist city – has taken over. Coral in areas such as Chitales, near the northern tip of a Caribbean reef chain stretching from Mexico to Honduras, are dying as people and cities put more stress on the environment.

“The net effect of pollution is as bad or maybe worse than the effects of global warming,” said Iglesias, a co-author of the study in the journal Science.

Human waste, like that from Cancun’s hotels and night spots, aggravates threats to coral worldwide, such as overzealous fishing, which hurts stocks of fish that eat reef-damaging algae. Coral reefs are covered with tiny animals called coral polyps, which build the reefs by slowly secreting calcium carbonate over thousands of years, creating structures that can dull the blow hurricanes deal to coastal cities.

Across the Caribbean, the amount of reef surface covered by live coral has fallen about 80% in the past 30 years, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network says.


(By Jason Lange in Cancun, Mexico)

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