For the past ten years, we have heard about the most beautiful coral reefs in the world dying by the day. Issues such as climate change and pollution most certainly impact the alarming rates at which the reefs are dying, but what is the true driving cause behind their downfall?
The simple answer is human pollution habits. Humans allow chemicals such as Nitrogen and fertilized topsoil to run into the ocean, then cutting off the coral and allowing other plants to grow over coral and destroy it. Soil, for example is a major contributor to these surface issues that harm coral.
If humans began cleaning up the environment more frequently and cutting back on the usage of harmful fertilizing products, the coral reefs could have damage reduced significantly. The current projection is that the coral reefs will have completely died by fifty years from now. Thus, human cleanliness habits of the environment need to change immediately, before it to too late to be reversed.
Another cause of the dying coral reefs is that of rising water temperatures, where the seawater temperatures and acidification have greatly increased, mostly due to climate change as a whole. For example, many large commercial companies have been charged on multiple occasions for over-fishing in areas, allowing more pollution and destruction underwater from their actions, creating cloudy water from once clear blue. The result of the cloudy waters leads to the shedding of tissue from the coral, changing them from their normal colourful and beautiful forms to a shade of white, known mainly as the issue of coral bleaching.
Tourism has been consistent with coral reef locations such as the Great Barrier Reef, which was one of the reasons that damage there was so severe, due to the pollution entering the water when the humans came to visit each day. .
The main way to try and cure such issues of coral bleaching are by focusing on preventing more ocean pollution, holding large commercial companies accountable for their actions of destructive fishing and their runoff of harmful chemicals into the water, and most importantly, limiting ourselves to using less fertilizer and products that we know are harmful to the planet.
We need to stop being tourists to Earth, and start being care-takers to it, just as the Earth has taken care of us for so many years. Together we can all save the dying coral- but only if we work together and make a true, strong effort.
-By: Dominique Preate -Intern at Science WeeklyFix