Thursday, March 26, 2009

Going, going...gone?

Going, going…gone?
Due to pollution, disease and global warming coral reefs are dying off at astounding rates. Scientists are trying to create new and effective ways of preserving these reefs in order to protect biodiversity, human economies and the coral reefs themselves. The article claims that if the rise of carbon dioxide does not diminish the oceans will be “chemically inhospitable” for reefs. Ocean acidification is a major contributor to coral bleaching, which is a major threat in the killing of coral worldwide. Once the coral becomes “stressed” by warming waters and acidification, they will expel the algae that serve as its food and gives it its color. Once the coral becomes pale or white it will soon die off. As a result the ecosystem that relies on it will suffer. On a brighter note, there have been studies that prove that coral bleaching can be reversed even in its most extreme stages. If we reduce other stressors such as over fishing and also introduce new types of algae that can survive the rising temperature may help inoculate the coral.

Coral Bleaching- is the loss of color of corals, due to stress-induced expulsion of symbiotic unicellular algae or due to the loss of pigmentation within the algae.

Although the extent to which this article describes the negativity of coral bleaching is rather extreme, it just gives a very "worst care scenario" type of depiction. The process by which coral is bleached is very complex and is very reversable if caught in time. Many stressors around them dissallow any recovery from the bleaching process. Thus, as the article mentions, a possible way to reduce the extent to which corals are bleaching is by removing such stresses.

Platt, John. "CORAL REEFS: VITAL TO THE OCEANS, VITAL TO HUMANS." Scientific American 11 Feb 2009 26 Mar 2009 ..

1 comment:

  1. I am concerned that part of Joani's posting above may be misunderstood. While bleached corals can regain their algae and recover, that only applies when the corals are still alive. Severe or prolonged bleaching kills the corals. This cannot be reversed. Also, bleached corals that recover and even corals that are stressed by high temperatures but do not appear visibly bleached are more susceptible to mortality from disease.