Chinese ecologists completed the country’s first ever general survey on coral reefs at the Xisha Archipelago in the South China Sea recently.
The aim of the underwater survey is to provide a scientific basis for managing China’s coral reefs and making plans for setting up coral protection areas, said an expert of the South China Sea Oceanic Research Institute who took part in the survey.
During the survey, the scientists reviewed earlier data, studied conditions of the coral reefs at Xisha Archipelago, spotted new coral species and studied coral reef-dependent fish and alga.
The pictures taken underwater during the survey are roughly same as those taken by coral reef photographers elsewhere in the world, which will facilitate Sino-foreign exchanges and cooperation, said a survey participant.
China’s coral reefs are distributed mainly among archipelago such as Nansha, Zhongsha and Xisha islands in South China Sea, as well as in offshore areas along the coast of Hainan Island.
A recent worldwide survey showed that coral reefs in many parts of the world have deteriorated. The area of coral reefs along the coast of Hainan island has shrunk to 22,200 hectares, down by 55 percent according to comparable figure in the 1960s. Nearly 80 percent of the coral reefs in the offshore areas around Hainan Island have been ruined.