By Page Van Pernis
Northeast of Australia’s coast lies the biggest coral reef system in the world, This coral reef provides vital support for the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean. For the last 36 years, this reef has been slowly dying. It is called Reef Bleaching, caused by rises in ocean temperatures. When water temperatures rise, Coral releases algae, this algae is filled with zooxanthellae, a vital chemical to corals color. This loss results in the corals bleaching. Their have a been a series of mass bleachings in the Barrier, starting in 1980, and carrying on through 1982, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2016. All of this Bleaching has carried a 90% mortality rate.
The worst part about these bleachings is there is no way to stop it immediately, This is a larger global problem that can only be stopped with global changes. These changes would include, ocean temperatures, cleaning of ocean waste, and chemicals within the ocean.
With the death of these reefs creates greater problems for the ocean, coral is a vital habitat for other ocean species. They live, lay eggs, and feed in these habitats, so with the decline in coral could result in the loss of other life. This could be the start of a dramatic domino effect leading to one more nail in the global extinction coffin of the world.
Along with the environment, comes Australia’s economy. The reef is a very popular tourist site, and a great part of Australia’s economy is tourism. If the reef becomes damaged enough, visiting of the reef may become illegal shutting down many business around touring the reef and diving.
There’s no way to stop this problem overnight, but with the right action within the right amount of time, the reef could be saved and bleaching slowed dramatically. This is only a global choice.