Sea and jungle life bounce back from the tsunami's battering

The first assessment of the damage to wildlife caused by the Asian tsunami found nature has been surprisingly resilient to the effects of the giant waves.

The first assessment of the damage to wildlife caused by the Asian tsunami found nature has been surprisingly resilient to the effects of the giant waves.

More than 200,000 people are believed to have been killed and entire coastal settlements wiped out in the aftermath of the Boxing Day earthquake that sent a tsunami across the Indian Ocean. Scientists who have completed an extensive investigation into the impact on the wildlife of Sri Lanka - one of the worst-affected countries - have, however, found little lasting damage to the natural landscape.

Sanjayan Muttulingam, a Sri Lankan-born scientist with the Nature Conservancy in the United States, said the two-and-a-half-week field trip with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society entailed a survey of the country's largest coral reefs and terrestrial wildlife parks.

"We carried out four different surveys of the marine environment and found low to minimum damage to the coral reef, although the water is still very murky," Dr Muttulingam said. Divers who visited the reef saw much evidence of the mayhem caused on land - debris ranging from shoes to large metal poles and abandoned fishing nets, although much of the coral was still healthy and intact.

"The conditions were rough and there were items strewn over the reef, including pipes, blocks of cement and boat fragments. The coral showed only minimal signs of recent breakage, most notably at Hikkaduwa [a marine park]. In all, the live coral seemed to have fared well," Dr Muttulingam said.

In terms of Sri Lanka's coral reefs, which are an important attraction for the tourist industry, the main threat now is from the debris that still continues to scrape away and destroy the delicate coral life forms, he said.

"The good news is that damage to the reefs we studied from the tsunami was low but the bad news is that unless we clean up the debris left behind there will be further damage," he said.

The survey team also investigated the impact on Yala national park, which comprises 250,000 acres of protected dry scrub forest and estuaries. Yala has 50 miles of mostly undisturbed coastline.

Land along the coast had been devastated and the human settlements reduced to fields of rubble but the destruction was very localised. "There is major structural damage to the vegetation and the grass is almost uniformly brown in areas inundated by the water. However, there are already extensive signs of regrowth and regeneration," Dr Muttulingam said. "As we went deeper into the jungle, the signs of obvious destruction receded," he said.

In one place, the tsunami swept through the forest for up to two miles and the land looks like a moonscape. But most other areas appeared untouched. The scientists estimated that between 5 and 8 per cent of Yala Park had been affected but in many areas the grass and trees were already beginning to regenerate, he said.

"The resilience of nature is very strong. I saw lots of sounds and signs of wild animals. I'd be surprised if in two years we're able to distinguish many of the areas that have been damaged from those left unscathed."

Although no study of the Maldives is known, it is likely the reefs there displayed similar resistance to damage.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album