[dehai-news] VIDEO: Eritrea - Explore The Magnificent Dahlak Islands

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Thu Jul 21 2005 - 20:30:58 EDT

Eritrea - Explore The Magnificent Dahlak Islands
Click below to watch:
Dahlak archipelago, which are all scattered around Eritrea's Red Sea
coastal waters. The Dahlak Islands have a great opportunity for yacht
cruising (scuba) diving and (pearl) fishing.
Experts say Eritrea has some of the most pristine coral reefs left
anywhere worldwide, a "global hotspot" for marine diversity supporting
thousands of species and species found no where on Earth but Eritrea's
coastal waters.

Eritrea: Coral reefs
Hope for global marine future
SHEIKH SEID, Eritrea, April 15, 2008 (AFP) - Silver bubbles pop to the
surface as a snorkeler glides over a colourful coral reef, bright fish
speeding to safety in its protective fronds. Experts say this small Horn
of Africa nation has some of the most pristine coral reefs left anywhere
worldwide, a "global hotspot" for marine diversity supporting thousands
of species. Known also as Green Island for its thick cover of mangroves,
Sheikh Seid is only one of 354 largely uninhabited islands scattered
along Eritrea's southern Red Sea desert coast, many part of Eritrea's
Dahlak archipelago. The remote reefs are exciting scientists, who see in
Eritrea's waters a chance of hope amidst increasingly bleak predictions
for the future of coral reefs -- if sea temperatures rise as forecast
due to global climate change. Unlike the deeper, cooler waters elsewhere
in the Red Sea, Eritrea's large expanses of shallow -- and therefore
hotter -- waters have created corals uniquely capable of coping with
extremes of heat, scientists say. "Eritrea has the most temperature
tolerant corals in the world," said marine expert Dr John 'Charlie'
Veron, dubbed the "king of coral" for his discovery of more than a fifth
of all coral species. "That bodes well, for climate change is set to
decimate coral reefs."

Leading scientists warn that most reefs -- vital for the massive levels
of marine life that depend upon them and a crucial component of coastal
economies -- will be largely extinct by the end of the century unless
greenhouse gas emissions are curbed. They say many will be killed by
mass "bleaching" and irreversible acidification of seawater caused by
the absorption of carbon dioxide into surface waters, with at least 20
per cent of coral reefs worldwide already feared lost. But with
Eritrea's surface water in summer an average bathwater temperature of
32.5 C (90.5 F) -- reportedly peaking at a sweltering 37C (98.6 F) --
corals here have evolved to survive in an environment that would kill
others elsewhere in the world.

Eritrea's isolation due to long years of bloody war with neighbour
Ethiopia, combined with minimal tourist numbers and government efforts
to protect the coastline, have left much of the country's extensive
coral reefs untouched. "Around most of the world, especially Asian and
African coastlines of the Indian Ocean, coral reefs have been plundered
in one way or another, the most damaging activity being explosive
fishing," added Veron, former chief scientist with the Australian
Institute of Marine Science. "The reefs of Eritrea look as if they have
been in a time warp -- they have not been touched." On a recent
three-week diving expedition along Eritrea's 3,300 kilometres (2,046
miles) of mainland and island coastline, Veron found five species new to
science -- something the scientist described as "most unusual". "Eritrea
probably has the richest suite of corals of the Red Sea, and its 'coral
gardens' are in exceptionally good condition," he added.
Such findings have encouraged ambitious plans offering hope for the
future of reefs worldwide, with some believing that Eritrea's corals
offer a potential nursery for future "re-planting". Alain Jeudy de
Grissac, a French marine scientist who has spent the past three years
diving along Eritrea's coast, believes small coral buds -- comparable to
taking cuttings from plants -- could be placed in areas where coral has
died by sea temperature increases. "The coral here is already well
accustomed to high temperatures for long periods of time," Jeudy said, a
former technical advisor to Eritrea's marine conservation body. "If you
seed the coral it would spread out... it would of course take some time,
but they could occupy the area left by others." The principle of
re-seeding coral, or "ecological restoration", has already proved
successful, Jeudy added. "It has already been done in the case of
accidents, such as if a ship grounds and the coral is crushed," he said.
"Testing would be needed, as this would be a totally new concept for
coral reef researchers, but it could be one future of coral survival for
many countries." It also offers a potentially lucrative opportunity for
tourists. Veron pointed out that just north of Eritrea, visitors to
Egypt's Red Sea reefs generate more cash than visitors to its famous
archaeological sites. "The Eritrean reefs are a tourist industry gold
mine waiting to be opened," Veron said.

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