Author: Fatima Reyes
Source: Inquirer Global Nation 
January 21, 2013
Oceans are the “canary in the coal mine” for climate change. Declining marine diversity, dying coral reefs and of course rising sea levels are all evidence that something negative is happening, and faster than we thought. Now, a new study focused on India’s Grand Récif of Toliara finds that it’s human activity, more specifically than the complex issue of climate change, that’s devastating the planet’s most treasured coral reef systems.
Most people are familiar with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 1,600 miles off the coast of Queensland. India’s Grand Récif of Toliara, though smaller and less well known, is no less spectacular. Stretching for 11 miles off the southwest coast of Madagascar it was considered the richest biodiversity system in the Indian Ocean home to more than 6,000 species.
In the 1960s and 70s the Grand Récif was hailed as one of the most beautiful places, but since then the world has changed drastically. A rapid boom in human population has led to overfishing and a rise in destructive fishing practices. On land, vast areas of land have been cleared for agriculture and mineral extraction.
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