Human activities led to the degradation of the Caribbean coral reef back in 1950. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of Arizona, a study of which was published in the journal Science Advances.
Biologists began to study the Caribbean coral reef in the 1970s – by then it had already become very discolored, and many corals had died. Olenoerogy corals suffered the most – compared with the start of the research, today their population has decreased by 20%.
Scientists believe that climate change, fishing, and water pollution are the cause of degradation. However, these are only assumptions: the real reasons that triggered the bleaching, scientists still did not know due to the fact that they began to study the reef too late.
In a new work, researchers combined data on fossils found in the area, historical records, and data from underwater studies. This allowed us to restore the history of the reef over the past 125 thousand years.
The study showed that the Caribbean coral reef began to degrade in the 50s of the last century. Then the influence of global warming was not so strong. The authors of the work believe that the main reason for the degradation of the reef is human activity, in particular, fishing and clearing the area for installing nets.