Coral Bleaching

A representation of the devastating affects of coral bleaching.

A representation of the devastating affects of coral bleaching.

Calena Lopez, Staff Writer

Have you ever experienced the sight of beautiful corals on a vacation or a simple dive in your local waters? Did you see all the beautiful colors that they displayed, and all the wonderful marine life flourishing around them? Well if you have, try to hold onto that experience because, sadly, all the coral reefs around the world are slowly bleaching and later dying due to the multiple factors like climate change and change in seawater chemistry.

When corals bleach it’s not just a dying process, but it’s also a stress signal to other corals that their environment is dramatically changing. Corals are extremely sensitive when it comes to any change in their habitat, so when temperatures rise, and the water becomes warmer, the corals become stressed, which leads to major bleaching. Recent studies have shown climate change has made our waters rise by two degrees, leading to the bleaching and deaths of many coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef. In 2016 a small portion of the reef was dying, but over these three years most of the reef has already been killed off.

Due to their sensitivity, the smallest things like the change in the seawater chemistry can kill them off very easily. Ocean acidification, which is a part of the chemistry of the water, rises due to climate change, and the slightest change in the ocean’s acidity can affect the way the corals form their calcareous skeletons, which is very essential to their survival. Since the corals have problems forming their calcareous skeletons, they dissolve and erode easily, thus making their lifespan very short and killing off multiple packs of coral at the same time. Over time scientists have started noticing the dramatic levels of acidity in the ocean and how they are affecting the corals and its worrying everyone.

No coral reef will ever be the same again due to the devastating amount of damage done to them, but if we change our ways there still may be some hope to save them and stop the underlying fate they have. We need to watch what we use and what increases climate change so we can stop the damage while we have the chance. Corals are a major part of our oceans and without them, the whole ecosystem will collapse. This matter can’t be ignored for much longer, we’re running out of time.