Bleaching occurrences have happened before the 1980s; however detailed information could not be gathered due to lack of reporting (Berkelmans, De’ath and Kininmonth). In 1911, the first bleaching event was reported at Bird Key Reef in the Florida Keys, in which unfamiliar warm weathers caused “injury” upon the corals and the death of many fishes (Berkelmans, De’ath and Kininmonth). In 1998, the worst bleaching event was recorded. In some parts of the world, live corals were completely harmed (Coghlan).
Although bleaching can be found in animals, it is most notable in corals. These species have a symbiotic relationship with the yellow-brown colored zooxanthellae from the genus Symbiodinium (Douglas ). Figure 3 shows the symbiotic relationship of the algae with a coral (Wadlow ). All species affected by bleaching have undergone mortality in massive numbers. Corals that are bleached usually reflect a white color, which is the calcium carbonate of the underlying skeleton (Douglas ). During coral bleaching, corals can usually determine the amount of zooxanthellae they want to lose. Figure 7 illustrates the process of coral bleaching (Outlook for the reef). However, the more stress upon a coral, the more zooxanthellae it will release than it has to. This causes the corals to lose their beautiful colors and photosynthetic pigments (Hauter and Hauter). The white-colored corals, which can easily be seen, are likely to have a reduced algal density of about 70 to >90% (Douglas ). In Figure 4, the bleached corals are noticeably seen due to their chalk white color (Explore The Great Barrier Reef With Your Child).
There is no exact explanation for coral bleaching. However, many drivers are considered to be associated to the bleach...
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...ne to save them. Many will say it’s too late while others will say it is just the beginning. Coral Reefs are the heart of the ocean and due to careless human behavior, sea levels are rising. Ocean temperatures increase causing coral bleaching. This in turn will lead to stronger hurricanes, the washing out of sea beds and mangroves, greater flooding, and destruction of the fishing community. Although scientists have a very detailed idea on what the results from degradation of coral reefs could be, it can be hypothesized that this understanding is being underestimated and no one is prepared for the true outcome of coral bleaching. Many are acting now, but it is necessary to attack the situation more aggressively and faster. Only time could tell on the severity of the situation that lies ahead; however, will the human population allow coral bleaching to reach its peak?
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