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Underwater Museum In Mexico Constructed To Help Protect Reefs
By Matt J. Weiss, October 4, 2009 @ 11:51 AM (EST)
Source: Ipsnews.com
The Subaquatic Sculpture Museum will be situated in the West Coast National Park in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. The park receives nearly 300,000 visitors each year. The museum's mission is to attract some of those tourists in order to reduce the pressures on important natural habitat in other areas.

The watery museum will become even more attractive when the sculpture area fills up with thousands of colourful fish. The concrete of the sculptures is pH neutral, which allows rapid growth of algae and incrustation of marine invertebrates.

"The underwater museum will draw many tourists, allowing us to give a rest to the natural reefs. It's like a restoration process," national park director Jaime González explained to this reporter.

"By becoming healthier, the coral reefs will be more resistant to hurricane damage," he added.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (PCC) has warned that extreme weather phenomena, like hurricanes, will become more intense and frequent as a result of global warming. The panel also predicts higher acidity of ocean waters and consequent bleaching of coral, which can kill it.

"Coral bleaching is akin to us losing our skin pigment. The ultraviolet rays of the sun would harm us," explained Roberto Iglesias Prieto, of UNAM's (Autonomous National University of Mexico) Institute of Sea and Lake Sciences.

The whitening process stresses the coral, which expels the algae that live within it and which provide nutrition, leaving the coral to starve, Iglesias added. The coral also reproduces less and becomes more vulnerable to disease.

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