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Coral Bleaching

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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 life in the coral survives the stress period, zooxanthellae often require weeks to months to return to normal density. The new life that occupies that space may be of a different species, however. The old species can die out therefore threatening many sea creatures. Coral can also help with slowing down storms in the water, protecting coastal towns. This can then lead to a cultural implication in the sense that fishermen won’t be able to make their living. Due to the fact that coral reefs are home to more than 25% of the fish species it affects many businesses as well as the environment. The coral bleaching could destroy the fishermen’s source of fish and other sea creatures, causing them to lose money, food, jobs, and businesses. It can also affect tourism to great extents. A lot of countries and pieces of land depend on tourism to make their money and keep their businesses running and without coral attractions; it can hurt their income majorly. "It will take a long time before we have full confirmation of the magnitude of the disaster," Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance in Chappaqua, New York said. "But when it is all in, I predict we will have confirmation that almost all corals across the entire South Pacific have died in the last few months." Solutions to the problems of climate change and reefs exist on a number of levels. The ultimate solution to protect coral reefs would be to target the source of global climate change. It is important for governments to realize the importance of this situation because these reefs are not going to be able to withstand such dramatic changes in climate for long. Governments should educate both the public and industries about this threat. Laws banning the production of CFC gases would help to slow down the rate of ozone depletion and global warming, which help the temperature change that’s harming the coral. If fines existed for production of these gases, maybe industries would be encouraged to use safer alternative methods of getting what they need. Coral bleaching is an ongoing issue that needs to be seized; it is hurting planet Earth, the place we fellow humans call home. The Earth is a beautiful and wonderful place that sustains life forms and various organisms. However due to the pollution and effect it is having on our atmosphere it is causing this coral bleaching. Destroying many beautiful sights, home to sea life, affecting businesses, and tourism.

Works Cited:

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_bleaching. 15 May, 2011

Duke. http://www.duke.edu/web/nicholas/bio217/aer9/effects.htm. 13 May, 2011 Fred Pearce. “Massive coral bleaching strikes Great Barrier Reef” New scientist. 12 April, 2002. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2164-massive-coral-bleaching-strikes-great-barrier-reef.html 30 May, 2011

Cited: Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_bleaching. 15 May, 2011 Duke. http://www.duke.edu/web/nicholas/bio217/aer9/effects.htm. 13 May, 2011 Fred Pearce. “Massive coral bleaching strikes Great Barrier Reef” New scientist. 12 April, 2002. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2164-massive-coral-bleaching-strikes-great-barrier-reef.html 30 May, 2011

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