Coral Bleaching

Topics: Coral reef, Coral, Great Barrier Reef Pages: 3 (799 words) Published: February 23, 2012
English 2 Honors
31 May 2011

Coral Bleaching
What is Coral bleaching? Coral bleaching is the whitening of corals due to expulsion or death of the protozoa’s pigment. The corals that form the structure of reef ecosystems of tropical seas depend upon a symbiotic relationship with unicellular protozoa, called zooxanthellae, which live within their tissues. Zooxanthellae give coral its coloration. Under stress, corals may release their zooxanthella, which causes the coral to look white or “bleached”. This is a bad issue and if we don’t enforce it, it could have many negative effects on us humans and other forms of life on Earth.

Coral bleaching may not seem as though it would be a major issue, but it can cause a number of negative effects on the ecosystem. These effects include change in ocean currents, relating to changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton populations, changes in water temperatures. Coral bleaching can also cause increases or decreases in water salinity, increases or decreases in the air temperatures, build up of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, water turbulence, exposure to higher levels of light, sedimentation, and exposure to increased UV rays. Coral can benefit both the ecosystem and people. An extensive survey of the Great Barrier Reef carried out over the last month has revealed "widespread bleaching", says Terry Done, chief conservation scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The coral protects shores from the impact of waves and from storms, provides economic benefits to local communities from tourism. More importantly, it benefits humans in the form of food and medicine. With the coral getting bleached, it takes all of these benefits away from us humans.

Coral bleaching has a big impact on its respective cultures. When coral gets bleached, it can harm the sea life that lives there. Once bleaching starts, even if the stress is reduced, the bleaching can still occur. If the...
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