BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Coral Reef Bleaching Puts Fish’s Ability to “Just Keep Swimming” in Danger

Coral reefs are vital sources of life for many sea creatures. The diversity of the underwater ecosystems surrounding coral reefs are, unfortunately, being put in danger because of coral bleaching. According to the National Ocean Service, coral bleaching is due in part by a process that is the result of damaged chloroplasts in coral cells which produce “toxic, highly reactive oxygen molecules during photosynthesis.” The main cause of this issue, is temperature; the coral respond to the drastic changes in temperature, whether they be hot or cold, by releasing the symbiotic algae that dwell in their tissues, which result in the coral taking on a white, “bleached” color.

Found on Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons Licensing

Coral bleaching has both negative internal and external effects. Internally, the coral’s ecosystems are placed at risk because they “rely on live coral for food, shelter, or recruitment habitat.” This is a major issue, as we have the potential to lose certain, diverse, species that live off of and around coral reefs, which, in turn, could negatively influence the food chain. The external effect is that there will not be tourism revenue brought in from people who scuba dive to the coral reefs affected by bleaching. This is due to the fact that they will no longer be aesthetically appealing. Thus, leading to a negative economic state in tourism hot spots.

Unfortunately, the temperature of the Earth is out of human control, so there is little we can do to prevent coral bleaching, but we can use the rapidity of the bleaching as a marker to gauge the temperature of the world.

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2 Comments

  1. katnizz

    that is such a shame! i for one love scuba-diving and by the sound of your article, should plan my next diving trips sooner rather than later. Below is a link that further explains coral bleaching and its affects on the coral reefs.

    http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/outlook-for-the-reef/climate-change/what-does-this-mean-for-species/corals/what-is-coral-bleaching

  2. celine2

    I am surprised at how coral bleaching seems so harmless but is indeed a threat to the fish and our ecosystems! After doing some more research, I think another article has a really good point. Instead of seeing the problem of coral bleaching as a irreparable problem (since it is dependent on global temperature), we can try to lessen our carbon footprints for less global warming. After all, this is only one of the many problems we will be facing with global warming, so why don’t we start thinking that it is possible and start doing our best to protect our planet? Here’s an article for further explanations and reading: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/coralreefs/coral-reefs-coral-bleaching-what-you-need-to-know.xml

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