Decades of indiscriminate collection of corals — including by researchers — from the Indian Ocean’s Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve may have resulted in two low-lying islands slipping beneath the waves. The loss of islands and associated reefs has been exacerbated by rising sea levels and industrial pollution, and poses threats not only to the area’s rich biodiversity, but also to the local people. The BBC quotes Dr. Deepak Samuel, marine biologist with the UN Development Programme:
“Lost islets are indicators, and can even be considered as a warning,” he said.
With the threat of climate change in years to come, factors such as coral mining will have an accelerating effects on the submergence of many island, he warned.
People in the area have gone on record many times as saying that the coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar saved them from destruction when the devastating tsunami struck in December 2004.
You can read the whole story here. Many low-lying tropical islands are now in danger of disappearance from the twin threats of rising sea levels spurred by global warming and degradation of coral reefs that otherwise provided protection from storm surges. Whole island nationas are at risk. To highlight attention to this problem, President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives Island held a meeting of his 13 cabinet ministers underwater in 2009.