In the spirit of talking about coral reefs I decided to discuss the topic of coral bleaching. As we discussed in class coral survive based on their symbiotic relationship with the zooxanthellae living directly in their tissues.
When conditions are not favorable for the zooxanthellae( i.e. too cold/warm, too many pollutants in the water, corals have disease, etc) they are expelled from the coral and are therefore unable to continue giving the corals the energy they need. This does not cause coral death but is extremely stressful to the coral to survive without the zooxanthellae.
These events of coral bleaching are causing not only the coral to die but are removing essential habitat for many organisms. Since these coral reefs are the most productive areas of the ocean the removal of this habitat is a huge problem and the recent warming changes have reduced this habitat. It is causing reduction of many fish because of lack of habitat areas to hide. Continued bleaching of these corals could lead to extreme changes in these ocean areas.
Wikipedia Coral Bleaching
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