By Maiclinn Waller
Coral reefs around the world are dying, and climate change is to blame. Though it may seem like a far-fetched idea, the undeniable evidence and scientific research suggests otherwise. Reefs around the world are changing from vibrant, lively attractions to underwater ghost towns all because of global warming.
Due to rising temperatures around the globe, ocean temperatures are also rising at an alarming rate. When ocean temperatures rise, corals become stressed and expel their most valuable partner in life: algae.
Zooxanthellae is an algae that lives inside coral, giving it its striking color. This algae and coral live in a mutually beneficial relationship, as neither one can survive for long without the other. When the coral expels the algae, it turns a ghostly white, earning the nickname of “bleached.”
Without zooxanthellae, corals lose the ability to photosynthesize sunlight filtering through the water, thus eliminating their energy source.
Coral reefs are a huge part of the ocean ecosystem. They provide shelter for thousands of marine animals and a place for predators to find their meals. Without the reefs, many marine species would face extinction.
Humans are not immune to these losses, as the loss of these marine species would affect fisherman worldwide. Losing fish would mean that humans’ sources of protein would decrease, eventually affecting crops. Even more so, fish and their bones are used as fertilizer, meaning without this source, crop production would decrease dramatically.
With the loss of coral reefs, humans would lose significant amounts of food sources.
A quarter of the world’s coral has already been affected by the rising temperatures, and experts estimate that by 2050, all of the coral will be on the brink of extinction. This looming problem would affect millions of people worldwide and must be stopped before it is too late.