Coral Bleaching Definition

by Laurent Cousineau

Coral bleaching refers to the process in which a coral colony loses zooxanthellae, the microscopic algae, when under some form of environmental stress.

As zooxanthellae is expelled, the coral colony appears white, hence the term "bleached."

Coral Bleaching and Climate Change

Due to the intake of carbon dioxide by the ocean, the pH levels decrease.

In other words, the carbon dioxide we emit does not only stay in the atmosphere but in fact, is absorbed by the ocean as well.

Ocean Acidification

In effect, as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the ocean increases, ocean acidification takes place.

In turn, ocean acidification has a serious impact on coral reefs and in effect, causes coral bleaching.

Essentially, the high carbon dioxide levels inhibit coral reefs from building their skeletons.

Devastating Impact to Millions of Species

Millions of marine species depend on coral colonies and hence, if the latter are bleached, then the entire ocean food chain will be affected.

Still, we do not fully understand the importance and beauty of coral reefs and if we continue unleashing so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, they will soon disappear.

We Must Take Action

Without doubt, mankind has an obligation to preserve marine life and thus it has an obligation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to save coral reefs, an integral part of the marine food chain.

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