Coral And The Great Barrier Reef

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A natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef is home to an abundance of marine life. It is a breeding area for humpback whales, migrating from the Antarctic, and is the domain for endangered species including the Dugong and large Green Sea Turtle (The Great Barrier Reef, par. 1). This natural beauty is a complex structure built mainly out of calcium skeletons that are laid down by hard corals (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, par. 3). However, it is close to extinction. Brain Clark Howard, in his article titled “Corals are Dying on the Great Barrier Reef,” published by National Geographic reports, “scientists have discovered an unprecedented die-off in the world’s largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, prompting the Australian government to issue its highest response level” (Howard, par. 2). Currently, rising temperatures in the ocean are responsible for an increasing coral mortality rate. As explained by Howard, this past years bleaching event is the worst to hit the Great Barrier Reef. However, he goes on to mention that climate change is not the sole reason for the decay of this ancient creature. As the oceans warm, the water levels become more acidic. Howard indicates how “as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises due to emissions of fossil fuels more of the gas is dissolving in the ocean. That is lowering the pH of the water” (Howard, par. 4). Furthermore, the quality of water is also put into question by farm pollution. Sugarcane farms alongside the Great Barrier Reef are contaminating the water with pesticides and harmful chemicals. Because of rising water temperatures, ocean acidification, and farm pollution, climate change poses a serious threat to the ecosystem and populations it sustains. Acco... ... middle of paper ... the world’s greatest expanse of corals. Coral bleaching is the failure to cope with the stress of bathing in warm water. Because of this, zooxanthellae are expelled from their tissue making them more susceptible to diseases. Furthermore, as the ocean warms it becomes more acidic. Lower than normal pH levels as a result of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is making it difficult for these already weakened organisms to create their hard skeletons. Reefs are also vulnerable to contaminated runoff from industrial farms. Neighboring sugarcane plantations have continuously infected the waters with lethal pesticides. The human effect on this world wonder in clear and is strengthening. It is predicted that by the 2030s, climate change will become normal. However, scientists are researching solutions on how to save this ancient life form before it is too late.

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