Discussion posted by: David McNamara
Images of white, skeletal coral reefs are becoming an increasingly bleak, if familiar sight. Massive coral bleaching events are becoming more common around the world, as a result of the rapid pace of climate change. In the period from 2014 to 2017, about 75% of the planet’s tropical coral reefs suffered heat-induced bleaching during a global ocean heatwave. A “bleached” coral is a stressed-out coral that, when triggered by environmental changes such as pollution and warming waters, has evicted its beneficial, energy-producing algae. Without these symbiotic algae, the coral loses its colour and appears white. Recovery from bleaching can be possible, but it’s not guaranteed. More frequent bleaching events mean less time for the corals to bounce back. Those that don’t recover, die – and their ecosystem can collapse with them.