Coral Bleaching and National Lakes Conservation Plan

Lakes and rivers are the important sources of drinking water all over the world. The Government of India has initiated a programme to conserve the lakes and rivers of the country. India has a National River Conservation Plan which is implemented in 160 cities, covering 34 major rivers of the country. The Ganga River Basin Authority is one such project which is responsible for the conservation of its biodiversity and sustainable use of Ganga River.

The main objectives of the Lakes and Rivers Conservation Programme are:

(i) To prevent the pollution of the lakes, ponds, and rivers (ii) To clean the lakes, ponds and rivers from weeds (iii) Afforestation of the catchment areas (iv) Solid waste management around the lakes, ponds and rivers (v) Public awareness and participation of public in the conservation of these water bodies (vi) Capacity building, training and research in the area of lake, pond and river conservation (vii) Any other activity depending upon location specific requirements

Coral Bleaching

Coral bleaching, a disease of corals was discovered in 1983. This disease causes corals to expel their brownish zooxanthellae and turn an uncharacteristic creamy color. This phenomenon is known as coral bleaching. Without zooxanthellae, the coral can not secrete calcium carbonate and generate a skeleton of reef. After one bout of bleaching, corals usually recover, but while they are bleached, they stop growing, leaving the reef vulnerable to erosion. The disease was first reported in the coral reef islands of Pacific Ocean in 1983 which reached the Caribbean sea in 1987. Corals are subject to other unusual diseases as well. The Caribbean corals are affected by lethal white-band disease, and the Pacific species are developing other peculiar maladies. Whether these problems are natural cyclical events or have been triggered by human activity remains to be discovered.

The causes of bleaching are unknown. Initial suspicions centred on global warming. If sea water was becoming warmer, the supersensitive coral might respond by changing in ways incompatible with needs of their zooxanthellae. The 1987 episode was widespread, occurring at distant sites at about the same time, leading scientists believe local conditions of pollution may not be blamed. Other researchers believe that a combination of temperature increase, sediments, and chemical pollutants may be the cause.

Although, most corals recover from these diseases, but by 1990 the recovery rate had slowed markedly. This trend raises fears for the future of the reefs themselves, and it lends urgency to the quest for the cause.

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