There's a Whole New Threat to Florida Reefs Damaged by Pollution and Overfishing

Florida's coral reefs are already in big trouble. Scientists around the globe have noted serious problems for the delicate but vital ecosystems, especially from "bleaching," a process that occurs when high heat and sunshine cause devastating effects. 

But that's not the only threat reefs in the Sunshine State face. A Florida Keys study has found a new and alarming problem: Bites from natural reef inhabitants such as parrotfish are also killing corals weakened by overfishing and pollution. 

Even worse, the study published earlier this month in the journal Naturefound that the weakened coral die at a rate of up to 80 percent during the warmest months of the year. In other words, this could be a very bad summer for the state's marine ecosystem. 

The four-year study, which was conducted on a coral reef off the coast of Key Largo, was authored by a team of researchers from Oregon State University, University of Florida, North Carolina-based SymbioSeas, and University of California–Santa Barbara, including Andrew Shantz, who recently earned a PhD from Florida International University. Read more...