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Coral Health and Failing Marine Ecosystems

Coral Health and Failing Marine Ecosystems

Coral Health and Failing Marine Ecosystems

Corals contain large numbers of symbiont dinoflagellates known as zooxanthellae in the gastrodermis, algae that play a critical role in the normal development of coral polyps and constitute a significant source of primary production. Corals play an essential role in the environment, providing various environmental services. The ability to form large solid constructions makes coral reefs attractive to many organisms that live in or on them. They use them as a temporary or occasional refuge; they visit them to feed on corals or other organisms, as a breeding area, or perhaps receive some oral or whole-body cleaning treatment. Of course, many organisms do not visit the reefs for only one reason; some use them as a refuge and feeding area, while others add to the list their reproduction and perhaps stay to live. The coral-zooxanthellae relationship extends to many animal and non-animal organisms. Coral Health and Failing Marine Ecosystems

Bleaching caused by climate change is not the only threat to coral reefs. Scientists and management authorities have been concerned that the increasing stresses introduced by human activities contribute to the decline of reefs worldwide. As waters absorb increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the acidity of seawater increases, which harms the capacity of sewage coming to the mainland (Skirving et al., 2020). Because of mismanagement, these potassium- and nitrogen-rich waters reach the seas and drive excessive growth of algae, one of the deadly enemies of corals. These threats come locally from destructive fishing gear, overfishing, unplanned coastal development, and water pollution from land-based watersheds. Added to this are factors related to global climate change, such as sea level rise, water warming, and ocean acidification.

The maximum level of impact of bleaching will depend on whether corals can recover from bleaching or die (Mumby et al., 2014). If they recover, the impact will have been slight. The consequences of bleaching affect many scleractinian and hydro corals, the leading reef builders, where this phenomenon has caused a significant loss of populations.

Suppose people devote themselves to depleting and destroying marine resources, especially the ecosystem’s biodiversity. In that case, the only ones harmed will be the beings that depend on these marine species, and we will be destroying a large part of this environment.

 

References

Mumby, P., Wolff, Y., Bozec, I., Chollet, & Halloran, P. (2014). Operationalizing the resilience of coral reefs in an era of climate change. Conservations Letters 7, 176-187. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12047.

Skirving, W., Marsh, B., De La Cour, J., Liu, G., Harris, A. (2020). CoralTemp and the Coral Reef Watch Coral Bleaching Heat Stress Product Suite Version 3.1. Remote Sensing 12, 3856.

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