Bleached coral is not the same thing as dead coral, but changes must be made for their recovery.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to the latest images, bleaching is affecting a big part of the great reef. If Australians don’t do something soon, they will lose an even larger part of the Reef Barrier, thus involuntarily killing off a wide variety of underwater species.
The bleaching phenomenon is a reaction of the coral to the environmental stress. Coral, at its roots, is white. The bright colors people are used to are given by algal pigmentation. In other words, coral lives in an entirely symbiotic relationship with a type of unicellular alga-like flagellate protozoa.
When the intracellular endosymbionts are lost, the coral returns to its natural, white color. Some scientists believe that the phenomenon takes place because of environmental stress like high irradiance, harmful chemicals, sediments, and freshwater.
Bleached coral is not the same thing as dead coral. While it may be a bit difficult to create proper conditions for the return of the zooxanthellae, it is not impossible. Because the defense mechanism expels the Symbiodinium while under stress, it could also welcome it back when the conditions seem proper again.
In the last 15 years, the Australian Reef Barrier has seen its share of bleaching, but the things that are happening now seem to be out of control. After news of the bleaching spread, Steven Miles, the environment minister decided to take a look at the reef situation in the northern parts of the barrier personally.
The things he has seen left him in awe. The bleaching is affecting a big part of the great reef, white coral being the only landscape divers can see for a long stretch. After realizing that the situation is harsh, Miles officially called on Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister.
According to Dr. Miles, the State is doing everything in its power to protect the natural wonder listed in the World Heritage. But in order to make sure that the authorities are properly notified, he even suggested the Prime Minister to take a look at the situation. Furthermore, he urged Turnbull to gather his team of consultants and come up with a policy to take on climate change.
But Miles is not the only official concerned with the current state of the reef. Justin Marshall, a member of the Coral Watch UQ team, supported him while making the call.
The professor described the coral situation as “just shocking”. Furthermore, he urged the Australian people to go and convince themselves just how much bleaching is affecting a big part of the great reef.
Image source: Wikimedia