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Remote Indian Ocean reefs bounce back quickly after bleaching

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Coral reefs in remote or protected areas can recover quickly after mass coral bleaching events, new research shows.

University of Exeter researchers are investigating “reef carbonate budgets” — the net production or erosion of reef structure over time, said a report published by Science Daily

To study the impacts of climate change on reef functions, they examined 12 reefs in the remote Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean before and after the global coral bleaching event in 2015/16.

In 2018, the formerly thriving reefs were “shrinking,” with coral cover and carbonate production down by more than 70% and erosion processes exceeding new coral growth.

When the researchers returned in 2021, all reefs were on a trajectory of recovery, although the speed varied from place to place.

Where key coral species returned quickly and the underlying physical reef structure had stayed intact, reefs showed a rapid transition back to positive growth only six years after the bleaching event.

Bleaching is caused by warmer water temperatures, which can trigger corals to expel their symbiotic algae and turn white. Corals can survive this, but an extreme heat wave causes large-scale mortality.

The speed of subsequent recovery is an important indicator of a reef’s health and resilience.

“Such high rates of coral recruitment and the rapid restoration of reef functions are a very nice surprise and imply that this location is showing some resilience, thus far, to ongoing ocean warming,” said lead author Dr Ines Lange, a postdoctoral research fellow in a multi-institutional project funded by the Bertarelli Program in Marine Science.

“A full recovery of reefs across the Chagos Archipelago over the next few years is likely if the region is spared from reoccurring marine heating events.”

Dr Lange added: “The study shows that in remote and protected areas without local impacts such as fishing or pollution from land, coral reefs and the important functions they provide are able to recover relatively quickly, even after large-scale disturbances.

“Proximity to healthy coral populations and the maintenance of a complex reef structure seems to boost recovery speed, which may help to manage reefs under the threat of increasing frequency of bleaching events predicted for the near future.”

Co-author Professor Chris Perry, from the University of Exeter, developed the census-based ReefBudget method to quantify reef carbonate budgets.

These carbonate budgets are important indicators of a reef’s ability to provide habitat to marine life, protect shorelines from wave energy and help reef islands to keep up with future sea level rise.

Over the last years, Prof Perry and Dr Lange optimised the method for the central Indian Ocean by quantifying and integrating local rates of coral growth and parrotfish erosion.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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