EESC 230 Post #5

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 NiƱa 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.

Crown-of-thorns starfish snacking on coral

Coral off the coast of Western Australia that has started bleaching due to the heatwave

Sarah Campbell

7 thoughts on “EESC 230 Post #5

  1. Sarah C. says:

    I recently talked to a friend of mine who’s doing a project on whaling in his public speaking class and he was telling me how Whales regulate the phytoplankton in the ocean and how important whales and subsequently phytoplankton are to the ocean. That got me thinking about how important phytoplankton are to coral reefs and then how important coral reefs are to the entire ocean. So what I concluded was that whaling and that industry can indirectly impact coral reefs and how they survive and allow other organisms to survive. It’s always so crazy to think about how every little thing on this Earth is connected and how harming one thing in this chain will cause a ton of problems for everything surrounded by it. It really goes to show how conservation and preservation can effect more than just the discussed topic.

  2. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    These are interesting details on the GBR. There are similar things happening to reefs all over the world, but Australia is the country with the most means to actually do something about it.

  3. dvanzant says:

    good post. It’s really sad how our impacts are indirectly destroying beautiful places like these. I never even considered the invasive species contribution to their destruction either.

  4. kmorgan4 says:

    I haven’t lived in Virginia my whole life, but I have also never lived anywhere near corals. It is crazy to think that something you never really think about can have such a massive impact on the world. I really hope the plans that are in place to help the corals go through and save them.

  5. mtawes says:

    I’ve also lived in Virginia my entire life and unfortunately I’ve never seen any coral reefs. Before taking this class I’d never put much thought on seeing them, figuring I have my entire life to see the reefs. I hope the plans you mentioned will help revive the reefs, not just for me, but for future generations. It would be a shame to lose something as beautiful as the coral reefs.

  6. msteele2 says:

    Good post Sarah! I also have always lived in Virginia so I was also unaware of the many different issues that are going on in the coral reefs until this class, but I have always been interested in the oceans so the coral reefs caught my attention fast. And like you I hope that the plans that places like Australia are taking help get the coral reefs out of danger so we can enjoy then for many more years to come.

  7. hsomers says:

    Like you, I’ve lived in Virginia my entire life and have also never known a whole lot about the issues surrounding coral reefs. I especially, before this class, was not aware of the delicate temperature range required for coral reefs to live. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of coral reefs around the world. This is because issues like overfishing and tourism-caused destruction are issues that we as a global community can work to either reduce or stop, but climate change is already in the works. Once global sea temperatures increase it will be extremely difficult (if even possible) to reduce those temperatures back to a suitable level for coral reefs.

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