Massive coral bleaching event has destroyed the Great Barrier Reef

Our oceans are suffering because of warming water, and the Great Barrier Reef is in dire shape.

“The Great Barrier Reef: A catastrophe laid bare,” an article from the Guardian published earlier this month, describes how drastic this problem has become; 93% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been touched by bleaching and almost a quarter (22%) has died.

Bleaching occurs when the water becomes too warm for the coral to live comfortably. The coral gets stressed, and spit out the algae inside of them. The algae is what gives coral reefs their beautiful neon colors. Without the algae, the corals white skeleton reveals itself from underneath translucent flesh.

1300

“I can’t even tell you how bad I smelt after the dive – the smell of millions of rotting animals,” said chief executive of the Ocean Agency, Richard Vevers, describing the smell under the surface.

What are the implications of this? Once coral dies, it can take it a decade to recover – but even that depends on the reef not being effected by other stressors, like, say water pollution (and there’s definitely non of that in our oceans, no siree). Basically, the dead coral has zero chance at a full recovery.

Further, entire ecosystems depend on coral for existence. It’s all part of a chain: little fish eat the coral, then birds eat the fish, and leave their dropping on the island for plant life to thrive. With that chain broken, fish and birds will have to migrate and find substance elsewhere (where exactly they can go is TBD). And of course, humans are effected; people who rely on the reef for food, income, or shelter from waves are screwed. But that’s only half a billion people worldwide. No big deal.

Just a little reminder, here’s what coral reef should look like:

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Here’s what they look like, now:

dead-coral

For more, click here.

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