Humans are Causing the Reefs to Slowly Disappear

Adriana Leiss , Reporter


         Coral reefs are more important than most people think they are. They are the natural protector of the shorelines, they provide protection from hurricanes, tropical storms, and tsunamiThat is not all coral does though, they also are home to about 25% of marine life, scientist also use them to create new drugs to fight against cancers, viruses, and multiple diseases. Coral reefs are a vital part of the ecosystem but due to rising water temperatures, overfishing, and ocean acidity there has been a dramatic decrease in the population of coral reefs. 

        According to scientists they say most reef systems will die by the year 2050 unless we reduce our carbon emissions to slow down the warming of the oceans. Scientists have also studied genetics inside corals to try and replace the coral with better heat restraint ones. Erinn Muller a science director at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota Florida has produced an idea to save the coral, they have started harvesting coral that has survived under stress, breading them, then they reattach them to the sea floor. 

        “Without a mix of long-term cuts in emissions and short-term innovation, there’s a not-so-far-off future where coral reefs as we know them simply cease to exist,” says Anne Cohen, a coral expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution located in Massachusetts. Due to the warming ocean temperatures and pollution, it has caused the coral to get stressed out, when this happens the coral goes through a bleaching process. They do not die during the bleaching process but if they cannot recover, they will starve to death. 


A coral reef in American Samoa, photographed before, during, and after a  bleaching event (Image Credit: Catlin Seaview Survey). 

           The first recorded bleaching occurred during 1980s, but it intensified in 2016 when a wave of warm temperatures killed off a third of the corals located in the Great Barrier Reef. .Mark Eakin a reef expert with the National Oceanic Administration “These are spectacular places, many of which I’ve visited. Seeing the damage being wrought has just been heartbreaking,” When the water temperatures get too high it causes the coral to expel the algae living on the outside of it which causes the coral to turn white.  

          Humans are the main cause of the decreasing coral population, because of us and the way we live it has caused one of the most helpful animals to slowly die off. If we do not fix the way, we live and start caring about the environment the coral reefs will not be the only animal going extinct.