18th Century Nautical Charts Reveal Extent of Coral Loss Over Time

Centuries-old nautical charts, mapped by long-deceased sailors to avoid shipwrecks, have been used by modern scientists to study loss of coral reefs.

A new US and Australian study – including research from The University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies – compared early British charts to modern coral habitat maps to understand changes to reef environments.

UQ’s Professor John Pandolfi said the study used information from surprisingly accurate 18th century nautical charts and satellite data to understand coral loss over more than two centuries in the Florida Keys.

“We found that some reefs had completely disappeared,” Professor Pandolfi said.

The study was led by Loren McClenachan, Assistant Professor at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, USA.

Professor McClenachan said more than half of the coral reef habitat mapped in the 1770s was no longer there. In some areas, particularly near land, coral loss was closer to 90 per cent.

Photo: Robert Havasy/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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pkirlian
pkirlian

Well we need to learn from the mistakes that has been done previously

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