Coral Bleaching Essay

941 Words4 Pages
Coral reefs are often thought of being “rainforests of the ocean” as they create a large diversity. A select type of coral control this diversity a symbiotic relationship with plankton. The distinct type of plankton are called zooxanthellae. This symbiotic relationship between hosts and partners that use photosynthesis, allow coral to skyrocket in seas where nutrients are poor and send calcium carbonate down to the bottom of the ocean in order to build reefs up in size (Toller et al. 2001). Coral bleaching happens when there is a decrease of zooxanthellae involved in the symbiotic relationship with their coral host. This also causes a loss of the coral's beautiful colors that sometimes can be seen to human eye. Bleaching leads to death of coral over time. Some causes of bleaching have been tied to salinity of the ocean and sedimentation. The main reasons known to cause severe coral bleaching are climate change and radiation. These two elements are extremely harmful to coral especially when they’re working together at the same time (Fitt et al. 2001). There are two kinds of bleaching that are due to zooxanthellae damage. The first is algal-stress bleaching. Algal-stress bleaching happens when there is discharge of zooxanthellae from a host cell. There is also another type called animal-stress bleaching. Animal-stress bleaching happens when the host cell detaches, which is the zooxanthellae leaving the coral with the host cell that they live in. These types of bleaching has only been seen when it’s under the microscope in a laboratory (Fitt et al. 2001). There is aslo another type of bleaching called physiological bleaching. This usually happens when there is shedding of extra zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae density can increase or d... ... middle of paper ... ...orals who are more severely affected(Marshall and Baird 2000). The vulnerability of fast growing corals as they are bleached has environmental consequences. Corals that are more vulnerable to bleaching are those fastest to use space to colonize and only live for a short period of time. These corals dominate any open space and put slower growing species to death. It’s been thought that bleaching influences the diversity of coral reefs by preventing the more aggressive corals from taking over (Marshall and Baird 2000). It’s obvious that conflicting observations are still up in the air. The occurrence of coral bleaching will most likely be on the top of the list to follow in the future. The significance of discoveries in the future about coral bleaching will help us understand the understated effects that bleaching has on the environmental well-being of coral reefs.

More about Coral Bleaching Essay

Open Document