Melting corals harbinger of global marine catastrophe

November 14th, 2007 - 10:39 am ICT by admin  

Benayahu, who heads the Porter School of Environmental Studies at the university, believes that environmental stress is damaging the symbiotic relationship between soft corals and the microscopic symbiotic algae living in their tissues.

He says that soft corals help maintain the health and balance of reef ecosystems and provide protection to numerous marine species. They are also a rich and promising source of life-saving drugs against cancer and deadly infectious diseases.

“There is a huge gap in our knowledge of soft corals in the reef environment, and with the rate of extinction, we have lost certain species forever. We may never recover certain therapeutic drugs, and humans could not live with a widespread extinction of marine life, he pointed out.

Benayahu recently returned from Phuket, Thailand, where he gave a training workshop to international students on the biology of soft corals.

Future marine biologists from countries such as Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Israel and Thailand participated. The workshop was intended to increase awareness of what could be a global environmental catastrophe.

“I am hoping that these young scientists will take what they learned to better understand how they can save soft corals back in their home countries,” said Benayahu.

With over 35 years experience in the field, Professor Benayahu is one of a handful of world experts who devotes his life to the taxonomy, ecology and biology of soft corals. (ANI)

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