Coral Bleaching: The Great Barrier Reef

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Coral bleaching is not just a national problem that Australia faces alone. In the last year (2015), 12 percent of the world’s coral reefs have bleached (Howard). Since the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef, covering 133,000 square miles, and stretching 1,200 miles along the coast of Australia, it poses an incredible threat to Australia’s economy and environment (Howard). Coral bleaching is not an issue that is often plastered all over the news or brought to people’s attention often. Coral Reefs, especially the Great Barrier Reef are seen as the perfect tourist destination because reefs are known for their wide variety of marine life and beautiful bright corals one would see on brochures. However, when a coral is bleached, it loses…show more content…
This happens when they become overly stressed especially when exposed to warmer than normal temperature and excessive sunlight” (“Coral Bleaching- Essential Facts”). Although the coloring of the coral may not seem too important, it is. The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than “1,500 species of fish, 411 types of hard coral, one- third of the world’s soft coral, 134 species of sharks and rays, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles, and more than 30 species of marine mammals” (“Australia’s Great Barrier Reef under Threat”). The coloring of the fish species correlates with the coloring of the corals in terms of survival for the species. Gradually, certain species of the marine life that live in the Great Barrier Reef have adapted to the colors of the reefs to camouflage themselves which ultimately helps them survive and decrease the threat of predators. With the coral turning to a white, dead looking color, those fish that have adapted to the color now stick out predators become a stronger, more direct threat to them. Over time, this will change the Great Barrier Reefs ecosystem because certain fish populations will sharply decrease, in some cases even go extinct, while other populations will…show more content…
Calculations for tourism for the year of 2015 are unavailable at this time, but for the year of 2014, the reef received a total of 2.19 million visitors. It is a well – known piece of information that there is a global climate change going on where there is a rise in CO2 in the atmosphere due to higher emissions of fossil fuel and more deforestation occurring. The ocean then absorbs more of this CO2, which in turn raises the acidity, which in turn creates a poor environment for the coral to live and recover from bleaching that has already occurred. This change in acidity also affects the calcium carbonate that corals use to build themselves. (“Climate Hot Map- Global Warming Effects Around the
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