Reefs Shedding Color Due to Extreme Heat

September 22nd, 2010

Coral reefs–the art of oceans–occupy less than one-tenth of one percent of the world ocean surface, yet house 25 percent of all marine species. It has been a difficult decade for the ocean with disasters such as the BP oil spill and the ever-expanding Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Atlantic Garbage Patch. When it rains it pours. Due to extreme heat this year, the world’s coral reefs, spanning from Thailand to Texas, have reacted by bleaching or shedding their color. Already many reefs have died, with more predicted to follow in the next few months.

This global bleaching is the second known instance, the first being in 1998 when 16 percent of the shallow-water reefs were estimated to have died. In Thailand, the damage seems worse than in 1998. Scientists have cautioned for years that corals, extremely sensitive to heat, would be an early indicator of planetary damage by greenhouse gases. High-ocean temperatures endanger organisms and those that depend on these organisms, namely fisheries that feed people as well as the billion dollar tourist economies.

This is a wake-up call the world cannot ignore. Help us work towards a greener lifestyle and a safer planet.

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