Coral Bleaching

Did you know that coral reefs all around the world are at risk? Coral is bleaching in response to changes in its environment, which puts the coral at higher risk of starvation and disease. Many of our endangered species rely on coral reefs for their survival, the loss of which would disrupt the broader ocean food chain as well as anyone relying on fishing for their livelihood.

What Is Coral Bleaching?

What Is Coral Bleaching?

Coral bleaching is what coral does under stress. Healthy coral is covered in plant cells that have a symbiotic relationship with the coral, producing food for the coral from sunlight. Stressed coral will expel these plant cells and what you see then is the skeleton of the coral. At this point, the coral is not dead, and can still recover if given long enough between these “bleaching events.”

What Causes Coral Bleaching?

What Causes

Coral Bleaching?

Most bleaching events are a consequence of climate change and the resulting temperature swings in the ocean. Ocean temperatures going up as little as two degrees Fahrenheit for a month is enough to cause this reaction in coral. Chemical pollution or floods exposing coral to fresh water can also cause bleaching.

This stress response from coral acts a bit like hibernation to deal with short-term fluctuations in their environment. However, without sufficient time to recover between bleaching events, the coral will die. There have been more bleaching events closer together than before in recent years, making it difficult for corals and reef systems to recover!

What Can We Do?

What Can

We Do?

One of the best ways to approach issues like coral bleaching that can feel overwhelming is to think globally, act locally. What does that look like? Pay attention to the ecosystems around you and how your actions affect them. Are you using fertilizers on plants that will drain chemicals into nearby water sources? Can you take public transportation to reduce your fossil fuel consumption? If we all take whatever manageable actions we can, it can make a massive difference for our environment!

Want to learn more about coral bleaching?

Want to learn more

about coral bleaching?

Here are some great places to start:

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