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Environmental Consequences

Precious coral reefs and mangrove areas would have been crushed by the huge tsunami waves that have devastated southern Asia, an environmental and economic setback that could take years to reverse.

The reefs around Sri Lanka and Phuket have been severely damaged due to them having to bear the brunt of the forceful walls of water. When the waves get close to shore, their height is amplified and they release all their energy, decimating everything in their paths. The atolls of the alluring Maldives and the southern Thai islands (including Mangrove areas that act as nursery habitats to fish and shrimp) were also destroyed by the strong waves.

According to scientists, reef-forming coral grows only about 0.5 cm, or 1/5 inch a year, thus for the seaside resorts on the numerous affected islands to regain their previous splendor could take several years to a decade. The worst marine damage was likely to have been concentrated 100m to 1km from shore. Fortunately, large sea mammals such as whales and dolphins probably suffered little impact.

According to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), dolphins can feel disturbances happening in the water and would have most likely headed for deep water where they would be safe. Also, they mostly inhabit the areas far offshore, where the tsunami has the least damaging capacity.


Widespread Damage of the coast of Meluaboh
Source: Digitalglobe

References

  • The Indian Ocean Tsunami: what are the economic consequences?. Retrieved March 7, 2005, from http://www.odi.org.uk/tsunami/tsunami.html
  • Coral reefs may take years to recover from tsunamis. The Manila Times Internet Edition. Retrieved March 7, 2005, from http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2004/dec/30/yehey/opinion/20041230opi8.html
  • Tsunami consequences. NewsFromRussia.com. Retrieved March 7, 2005, from http://newsfromrussia.com/world/2005/01/03/57689.html