The 2004 tsunami sent massive amounts of debris and rubble into the coral reefs surrounding Sri Lanka, damaging them at a time when they were already struggling to survive. Recovery could take 20 years in the hardest-hit reefs, or even longer if harmful fishing practices continue. In particular, concern by conservationists is directed toward “blast fishing”—in which fishers use dynamite to stun or kill fish. Although the Sri Lankan government has increased the penalties for such activities, the regulations are not enforced.
The tsunami compounded already heavy losses suffered in 1998, when a rise in ocean temperatures related to an El Niño weather pattern triggered massive coral bleaching.
Henry Chu, “Sri Lanka’s Reefs Struggle to Survive After Tsunami,” Houston Chronicle, 22 July 2006.