Tsunami reefs recovering quicker than expected

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Indonesian coral reefs damaged by the tsunami that struck on Boxing Day 2004 are recovering at a faster rate than expected.

A study undertaken by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which took place along 500 miles of the Indonesian coastline, has found rapid colonisation of young corals in areas that had been wiped out when the disaster struck four years ago.

It is believed this recovery is not only due to the natural resilience of the tough corals, but also the adoption of more sustainable fishing practices by the local communities.

The Indonesian reefs had been damaged by destructive fishing methods, including the use of cyanide and dynamite, and attack from the predatory crown of thorns starfish even before the tsunami hit.

The WCS had high praise for the communities in its news release, who have not only changed their fishing practices but also carried out projects of transplanting corals to badly affected areas to aid the reefs recovery.

It was previously predicted that this level of recovery could take over a decade.

On the fourth anniversary of the tsunami, this is a great story of ecosystem resilience and recovery, said Dr Stuart Campbell in a news release by the WCS.

These findings provide new insights into coral recovery processes that can help us manage coral reefs in the face of climate change.