As reefs lose color, we start to think about the future of our ocean’s survival. What can we do to help?
What is Coral Bleaching, and how do we help?
Did you know that our oceans house a whopping 50-80% of all life on Earth? As crazy as this sounds, it’s true! These facts make waves when considering how much damage is inflicted on ocean habitats every day. We must work to stop overfishing, eco-tourism threats, and coral bleaching!
If you’ve ever been snorkeling or scuba diving, you’ve definitely swum through the aquatic forests we call corals. Ever heard of the Great Barrier Reef? It was once one of the most colorful places on the planet that now stands ghostly white. Scientists say, over ⅔ of the reefs are badly damaged. What happened?
Corals are porous beings, housing countless microorganisms in their skeletons. Any slight increase in water temperature causes corals to shed their protective algae covers and begin the stressful bleaching process. With the ocean warming by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit, much of the damage is done.
How does coral bleaching affect sea life and humans?
Coral doesn’t respawn, so once these ocean organisms die, their whole reef ecosystem feels a jolt.
Corals provide a comfortable home for the base of the ocean-dwelling food chain. The larger ocean species are doomed to starve as the little creatures expire. For humans making a living on marine resources, the lack of life is startling.
Corals provide a barrier to forces of waves and storm surges. Populations living along the beachfront are in a danger zone for critical storms. Without them, shorelines are defenseless.
So Who’s to Blame?
As sad as it might be, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Our carbon production heats the Earth at an alarming rate, with detrimental effects. Our actions come in the form of coal-burning, mining, and other non-renewables.
Climate change is the culprit. As the world heats up and locks in warmth, so do the oceans. Once a coral is bleached, it hardly ever returns to its original state.
How Do We Help?
For every action, there is a reaction. What are countries doing to combat this oceanic crisis?
- The EPA is passing Clean Water Act programs. They fund programs that fight ocean pollution, prevent eco-tourism damages, and observe safe dredging practices.
- The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force was created to combat coral bleaching. Check this out!
- Costa Rica implemented the Green Fins Environmental Standard. This implementation focuses on sustainable diving and snorkeling in coastal regions.
Many other positive changes are being made through the International Coral Reef Initiative; follow and support their developments towards a greener future here!
Sink or Swim?
Our oceans impact our world more than most know. What kind of world would it be if we didn’t have our radiant coral reefs swimming with life?
As individuals, reducing our carbon footprint, supporting sustainable brands, and wearing reef-safe sunscreen when we partake in ocean activities are small steps in a big direction.
A safe place to donate and ensure your funds are going to the proper place is through the Ocean Foundation; you can reach it here! They also have volunteer positions if you aim to dive deeper (literally!)
Although this isn’t a well-known problem, it hits home for the ocean critters we all know and love. Any steps in a sustainable future are SHORE-ly appreciated.
What do you love most about our ocean habitat? Tell me in the comments!