In the past, coral bleaching had not been a top priority for climate change crusaders. However, due to recent developments it is now. Scientists have recently discovered that some of the world most precious coral is bleaching at an all time high pace. So what exactly is coral bleaching and how can you help prevent it?
Coral reefs and algae have a symbiotic relationship. The algae lives within the tissues of corals, and in return the algae becomes the coral’s main food source. The algae also it what gives the coral its beautiful colors. However, due to various factors, which will be discussed, when that relationship becomes stressed the coral dispels the algae. Without the algae, coral turns white and is highly susceptible to disease.
There are multiple causes for coral bleaching. The main cause is climate change. Due to an increased temperature in the atmosphere, the water temperature is also rising. The increase temperature is not good for the algae or the reef. A second cause is pollution. As pollutants enter the water, coral close to the surface or the shore lines soak in those toxins. Finally, the less controllable causes are sunlight and air. If coral is too close to the surface it may experience increased temperature from solar radiance, as well as exposure to the air. Both of these causes can also lead to coral bleaching.
Coral bleaching is happening at a much more rapid pace than ever reported. The most famous coral reef, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is being greatly affected. CNN reported “Back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 have devastated a 1,500 km (900 miles)…Before 2016 there had only been two bleaching events along the Great Barrier Reef in the past two decades, in 1998 and 2002.”
You can take simple easy steps in order to help prevent future coral bleaching. Reduce pollution – this can be done by riding your bike rather than driving, using less toxic chemicals in your yards, and throwing away all trash properly. The less toxic chemicals in the water and pollution in environment, the less likely coral bleaching will occur. Spread the word about climate change and coral bleaching. There are still many people who do not see climate change as a serious subject. However, start talking to friends and family about climate change and the serious repercussions it has on the environment.