Today’s question dives into whether the Great Barrier Reed is actually “dead” and what is causing it to die.
I stumbled upon this question as a trending topic of Facebook news section a few weeks back in the middle of November. Although Facebook may not be the best source for news because of the abundant “click bait” headlines, the headline I read: The Great Barrier Reef considered Dead. After surfing through the buzzfeed reactions and the endless opinionated mislead posts of individuals known as the Facebook comment section, I decided to do my own research on the topic.
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the northeastern coast of Australia and is the largest coral reef system in the world stretching 2,300 kilometerse long with countless speices of fish, turtles, starfish, and sharks. Known for its beautiful corals and unique underwater eco-system, the Great Barrier Reef is widely believed to be receding and dying due to a phenomena known as coral bleaching due to the baren white color the corals take after algae and nutrients are absent. Corals can survive a bleaching event but are exponentially vulnerable to the environment. Marine Biologists speculate reasons as to why coral bleaching is rapidly spreading across the Great Barrier Reef and here is why:
- Change in Oceanic Temperatures (Global Warming) – Thought of as the leading cause of coral bleaching, as water temperatures rise corals expel algae known as zooxanthellae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completly white.
2. Run-off and Polution shore – Storm generated run-off precipitation can rapidly dilute ocean water and can carry land pollutants which aversely affect coral reefs.
3. Overexposure to sunlight – High exposure to sunlight results in high solar irradiance which attributes to coral bleaching.
4. Abnormally low tides – Exposure to the air during extreme low tides can cause bleaching in shallow corals.
CNN recently posted an article disclaiming that the Great Barrier Reef is dead stating there is a difference between “dead” and dying”. I am in the belief that arguing over whether the Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying is petty and more efforts should be attributed to preserve the reef and conserve the living corals rather than arguing the state of living of world’s biggest organism.
Thanks for the read!