Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coral Bleaching

Corals have a limited temperature range within which they can live. When it gets too hot, they get stressed out and this relationship with the algae goes bad. The zooxanthellae are ejected from the corals, turning them white, getting the term bleached.
If these zooxanthellae aren’t reabsorbed in the near term, the coral will die. 

The causes include: 
    * Extra-bright sunlight, especially when combined with the aforementioned extra-warm seawater
    * Disease
    * Pollution from urban or agricultural run-off
    * Changes in the salinity, or saltiness, of seawater
    * Sedimentation from undersea activities like dredging

Without the zooxanthellae, the animals that live on the coral reefs won't have anything to eat and die. The organisms that eat the other ones will have less and less food and will eventually die. This is important because the result of coral bleaching is the complete destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of many species. 

- Victoria Mehlhaff -

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