Some days, it’d be nice to imagine that global warming, climate change, and the destruction of our environment were all just conspiracy theories created to keep us from real issues. Today is definitely one of those days. But unfortunately, science has the proof to wake us up: 1) massive sections of the Great Barrier Reef are dying and 2) it’s due to humans. Coral is fighting for its very survival as water temperatures rise (human impact on certain sections of the reef isn’t helping matters). On Monday, the World Wildlife Fund released footage showing that the coral in parts of The Great Barrier Reef had been bleached, making it clear that if something isn’t done (and quickly) the delicate coral reef ecosystem may be damaged beyond repair.
This has led the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to raise its response level as high as it would go (“11!”).
“The corals in the remote far north of the reef experienced extremely hot and still conditions this summer, and were effectively bathed in warm water for months, creating heat stress that they could no longer cope with,” Russell Reichelt, the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said in a statement:
Bleaching occurs when warm ocean water stresses corals to the point that they expel the tiny algae, known as zooxanthellae, that normally live inside their tissues. The algae provide the corals with most of their food, as well as their color. If the heat stress is lessened soon enough, the coral can recover. If not the, organisms will die.