7 News Belize

Could Reef Mitigate Tsunami Damage?
posted (January 10, 2018)

At the top of the news, we had all the coverage on the tsunami scare from last night. 

That natural disaster didn't hit us, but if it did, could the barrier reef have mitigated it by reducing the strength of the surge? Today we asked leading figures in the marine conservation community, and they told us that the barrier reef doesn't have the name "barrier" for nothing:

Janelle Chanona - VP, Oceana Belize
"The coral reef that we have, the Barrier Reef, it really lives up to its name in terms of being a first line of defense, a barrier to strong wave action, storm surges, etc. We also have the benefit of our mangrove role because they also play a very crucial role in really - and there are incredible videos that document this. What they can break down in terms of wave action is incredible. But I think that if you look at the percentage that has been documented for just coral reefs, they can absorb more 95% of the wave's action. So, you think about the energy that comes into that coral reef, what comes after it is nothing in comparison to what it is. So, whenever we have hurricanes, very strong storms, things like tsunami warnings, certainly, we should take comfort in the fact that the Belize Barrier Reef is there, and the mangroves that we have in place - we can also always look at replanting more mangroves to help maintain structures and to play that critical role in these types of event."

Dr. Melanie McField - Director, Healthy Reefs Initative
"It creates friction in the water, and it slows down the forces of the water. It won't stop - it's not gonna prevent water from coming through, but it dampens the force of the water. It's tremendous. It's amazing the power of that. Even sea grass has a dampening effect on water moving in preventing storm surge and erosion. So, mangroves, reef and sea grass altogether are helping. And these things need to be alive, so they can sustain themselves."

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