The Effect of Global Warming on Coral Reefs

Written by Ben Robinson, ESLLC 2017-2018

Living in Miami Beach Florida, I have visited and swam at many coral reefs. However, throughout the years I have also seen many disappear due to global warming. Coral bleaching is taking place all over the world because of global warming and at the rate it is going it is only a matter of time before they are all killed off. It is very possible that there may be none left in our lifetime as coral reefs make up less than 1% of all marine ecosystems.

Coral bleaching is when the water in the ecosystem becomes too warm and the corals release their algae. The algae have a certain relationship with the coral that is necessary for the corals survival along with the whole reef in which it lives. The algae provide pigment to the coral and when they are lost they turn white which is why it is described as bleaching. There are some very rare cases where coral can survive coral bleaching without their algae, however without the algae they are under far more stress and are subject to mortality.

If we do more to prevent global warming it is possible that we can give coral reefs a longer lifespan and more time to grow. This will be a challenge as corals take thousands to millions of years to grow into reefs. However, if nothing is done, then what is left of coral reefs will die in a matter of decades. Hopefully people will not let this happen and do as much as they can to not only save coral reefs but the planet that they live on.

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