A topic that interested me the most in class this past week was that of coral reef destruction. Coral reefs have always been something that I’ve never given much thought to before due to me always living in Virginia and never traveling to places where coral reefs were present. I never knew how big of a role they played until we talked about them in-depth. I also never realized how much would be at stake if coral reefs were to be wiped out completely. I thought the actual process of coral bleaching was extremely intriguing and never knew that it was a response to high water temperatures.
When I did some research on coral reefs, I found that the reefs off the coast of Western Australia are experiencing water temperatures that have been higher than ever in the past 215 years. These record temperatures have caused coral bleaching events 2011, 2012, and 2013. This article talks about the rise in temperatures and how the bleaching events that have occurred on a small scale can now start happening on a larger scale. In my geology class, we talked about how tree rings can reveal climate data over the past years but apparently the rings in coral can do this too. This article discusses how the coral off the coast of Western Australia. The rings showed that the climate has been extremely variable over the past years and changing wind currents have caused an increase in La Niña events that can greatly disturb the reefs.
The damaging of the coral reefs isn’t the only thing that is plaguing Australia. The country is also facing a big problem of invasive species, both on land and in the water. A big problem of these species is that some of them are being introduced in the Great Barrier Reef and negatively affecting the biodiversity of the area. An example of a species that is negatively affecting it would be the crown-of-thorns starfish, which graze on the coral faster than it can regrow. This article here discusses the introduction of the starfish and the impacts it has.
Overall, it seems that coral reefs are in grave danger but there seems to be solid plans in place that will hopefully reverse the negative impacts. Australia has numerous impact plans set in place in order to take care of their invasive species, many of which can affect the reefs. Hopefully the coral reefs around the world can be salvaged and return to their original beauty while also continuing to sustain a good portion of the ocean.