Researchers have just released another gloomy report on the Great Barrier Reef. They announced that the only way to stop the bleaching process would be to halt global warming. Reducing the amount of pollution in our oceans and preventing overfishing will not be enough to stop the bleaching process that is killing off coral in this area at a tremendous rate. However, by stopping the warming of the ocean waters we may be able to save the reef.
Scientists did include that local efforts to protect the reef are helpful and can aid the coral in reducing their stress that is being caused by the rise of temperatures in the waters. However, these efforts will eventually be futile as the warming will still slowly propel the bleaching process until the coral dies.
Director of ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Terry Hughes stated that they currently do not have any tools that can be used to climate proof coral reefs. He went on further to describe the fact that local efforts aren’t enough, this is a problem that has to be handled on a global scale.
We are seeing coral reefs around the world changing from their vibrant and brilliant colors to a dull white color, given the name “bleaching” due to the discoloration effect that the process has. The rise in ocean temperatures is causing an increase in greenhouse gases that are being released into the atmosphere, and this is having a drastic effect on these delicate plants. When coral is exposed to warm waters it causes stress, which in turn makes them release the colorful algae that currently lives within them and gives them their wonderful hues. Once this happens, the coral becomes highly vulnerable to a number of diseases and will quickly die. It does have the potential to recover, but only if the water cools. Even then, it’s a very small window of opportunity that is highly unlikely to come around.