July 06, 2015

What happens to a coral reef when an island is built on top?

Source: The Washington Post

Journalist: Eric Niiler

Marine biologist John McManus, who has been studying Pacific coral reefs for the past 30 years, remembers a two-day boat journey a few years ago to a remote part of the Spratly Islands, a chain of low-lying coral and rocky reefs in the South China Sea.

“You are traveling along in open ocean waters, then you come upon a place where the waves are breaking, then everything beyond the reef is flat, like a giant pool,” said McManus, who is director of the National Center for Coral Reef Research at the University of Miami.

Today, seven such coral reefs are being turned into islands, with harbors and landing strips, by the Chinese military. Not only is this work threatening China’s relations with the United States and several other Pacific nations, it is also destroying a rich ecological network, according to McManus.

Read the full article at The Washington Post.


  • Patrick M. Cronin

    Former Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Patrick M. Cronin is a former Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the ...