By Paige Wojtysiak
The “rainforests of the ocean,” the biodiversity that makes up less than one percent of the marine environment, are the coral reefs. Though the reefs themselves aren’t a huge population, they are home to 25 percent of the ocean’s marine life. According to Earthjustice (earthjustice.org), the coral reefs provide nutrients to the algae that sustains coral.
“Coral Reefs are very vulnerable when it comes to water temperatures,” said Lindsay Jensen, a biology instructor who specializes in marine life at the College of St. Scholastica. “If the water temperature rises, the algae living and protecting the reefs die. This then leaves dead, bleached reefs.” Besides protecting the organisms, Jensen said, they provide protection against hurricanes to coastal communities, and chemical compounds extracted from coral are used in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and other diseases.
In 1998, catastrophic coral bleaching started to take place in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. “if Global warming keeps going the way it is, it is likely to have something like this happen again,” said the National Geographic. Earthjustice adds that “The increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere also can lead to more acidification of the ocean waters, which can easily harm the coral and affect their long term population.”
The Great Coral Reef that everyone thought had just died, is actually not yet dead. According to CNN news, “there is a huge difference between dead, and dying.” The reef is dying, and at a very rapid rate, but there is still a chance to prolong the process, or even put it to a halt. Pollution; dumping, fossil fuels, and carbon dioxide in the air and water, and global temperature changes are what CNN news reports, are making the reefs die.
With the globe warming, the ocean warms. This causing a lot of fragile ecosystems to crash. The reefs are home to so many living things, keeping a system that has been around for years going is a goal of many marine biologists like Jensen, who has always been a fan of the marine life.
“It’s hard to do anything about it when you’re just one person, and there is already so much damage done,” she said. “Where do you start?”