LOSS OF HABITAT:
The researchers said they could not accurately assess the extent of echinoderm death off Pingtung County Island because the numbers were too large.
By Tsai Tsung-hsien and Jonathan Chin / Journalist, with editor and CNA
Overtourism, climate change and environmental pollution have caused extensive damage to coral reefs in Pingtung County in recent months, according to an Oct. 26 report.
The study was conducted by researchers from National Sun Yat-sen University, National Museum of Natural Sciences, and National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. It was posted on the Taiwan Environmental Information Association website.
The number of organisms and species observed near the island of Siaoliouciou (小琉球) decreased by 80% in July and August, according to the study.
Photo: Chen Yen-ting, Taipei Times
Coverage of coral reefs – the main indicator of the environmental health of the oceans – was less than 20% in the study area of interest, up from around 30% last year and around 50% in 2014, according to the report. .
Researchers estimated that more than 350,000 sea urchins, sea cucumbers and other echinoderms died in the region during the period, saying the scale of the deaths precluded a more accurate assessment.
The decline in wildlife was likely caused by heavy rains in July that reduced water salinity, overtourism after COVID-19-related travel restrictions were relaxed at the end of the month, and heavy pollution due to runoff from the country’s sewage system, according to the study.
Fan Tung-yun (樊 同 雲), a researcher at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium who co-authored the report, said yesterday that Siaoliouciou’s coral reefs are in worse shape than other reefs in the country, citing reports distinct showing 30 percent coverage off Kenting. National Park.
The Pingtung County government said it has commissioned new studies on the environmental impact of tourism on the island, as it prepares to develop new measures to protect marine habitats.
So far, it has closed some areas as well as large stretches of seaside at night during the coral’s breeding season, he said.
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