If you are a coral living in the Indo-West Pacific, the summer of 2010 has been a stressful time of the year. Over the past few months, water temperatures have been several degrees above average throughout much of the tropical western Pacific. The sea surface temperature rise is associated with El Nino conditions, which are strong right now and are expected to last into 2011. Though bleached reefs in the Indo-West Pacific may not seem that important to what is happening on the east coast of the U.S., the effects on important fisheries may be far reaching. Despite the fact that devastating coral bleaching events have occurred before, most recently in 1998, mother nature has been able to repair herself given time.
The same idea is applicable to what is happening on the Cape, as featured in a recent The New York Times article. With high nitrogen levels recorded in many bays and ponds due to human-induced input. Like it or not, the only answer for such an issue is to build state of the art waste-water systems throughout the Cape, paid for through taxes. It’s not a popular idea since no one wants to see higher taxes, but it is the price we pay for living in such a unique area so interconnected with the sea. Just because the effects of high nitrogen levels, which can dramatically change alter marine communities for the worse, may be out of sight underwater does not mean they should be out of mind. Enhanced sewage systems, time to let mother nature do her thing, and restriction of further coastal development are the answers to a better future for the Cape’s shallow water marine habitats.