Bleach'n Life - Coral Reef Bleaching

Michael Bonelli

Posted on September 08 2019

Bleach'n Life - Coral Reef Bleaching

Crystal clear water, bright colored fish, tropical temperatures, palm trees swaying in the breeze... would you say I am painting the perfect picture for your next vacation? Sure I am! Many travel from all over the world, from all walks of life, to reach a temporary (or even final) destination such as this - an escape from the everyday. What many fail to realize is how their actions back home may be effecting the delicate ecosystems within these regions- in particular many coral reef species that both protect and provide for their host islands. For these species there is no "escaping."

When you think of a tropical escape I am sure your first thoughts (besides palm trees, cheap liquor, and thatched roof bars) included clear blue water and colorful coral reefs. I bet you didn't picture a sea filled with muted, washed out, "bleached" coral absent of any type of aquatic life--but this is exactly what is happening to our coral!

How is this happening?! 

Have you ever left a party to take a break outside because the room was too hot or crowded? So what if everybody started to leave because it was so unbearably uncomfortable...there wouldn't be much of a party left now would there be?

Coral and algae depend on each other to survive. A symbiotic relationship. Microscopic algae called zooxanthellae live in the tissues of the coral and act as its primary food source. When outside factors such as rising ocean temperatures, pollution, or increased amounts of ultraviolet raditation stress the coral, the algae will leave suspending the coral species of its primary food source.

 Why should we care?

Sure, coral is pleasing to look at with its brilliant colors and organic architecture, but it is so much more! Besides the obvious economic benefits of attracting tourists for snorkeling and diving, coral reefs also have many other benefits as well:

•They act as a natural barrier for storms protecting its host island from severe weather and wave activity.
•They provide cosmetic and even medical advantages while hosting some of the most diverse marine species.
•They provide many jobs and economic value to local economies within the tourism and fishing industries.
•They aid in environmental processes such as carbon & nitrogen fixing and the purification of water and air


How can I help?

By leading a more sustainable life we can all help and reverse damages to these delicate ecosystems. Small changes such as beach cleanups, energy-efficient light bulbs, reusable water bottles all help to squash our ecological footprint and if you dive or snorkel always remember - look but don't touch! 


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