Emilie NamikawaProfessor Kathy and Professor Rodger ENVS 1010 November 14, 2017 Coral Reef Bleaching Coral reefs serve as a very important aspect of our ocean ecosystems, and without them we are in danger of losing species of fish and great wonders of the world. The Queensland Museum in Australia emphasizes this by their quote, “A diverse range of species provides a larger gene pool, giving natural communities survival options when environmental conditions and climates change” (Bauer). Coral bleaching is one of the largest causes of the degradation of reefs all over the world. Humans are currently playing a role in the continuing fall of health in reefs. It is important that we take notice of the damage that coral bleaching is having to the beautiful reefs that span our oceans before we have lost them. Coral reefs are important for both environmental and recreational purposes. Reefs provide a barrier of protection from natural weather issues, they also house many different species of marine organisms, they provide food and nurseries for fish, and provide a safe place for them to grow. Because it houses so many different fish, it also serves as a place for fishing. According to an article on Australian coral reefs “The Great Barrier Reef generates more than1.5 billion dollars every year for the Australian economy, from fishing and tourism” (Bauer). Along with focusing on why they are crucial for our oceans, it is also important to understand how coralfunctions when it is healthy.
fig. 1Coral is one of the most special factors in the ocean, and their reefs are some of the most diverse. Coral is an animal that is shaped as a polyp and a polyp is “like a tin can open at just oneend: the open end has a mouth surrounded by a ring of tentacles” (Frost). They use those tentacles to capture food/organisms that swim by. The color of coral comes from its zooxanthellae, and this also serves as the food source for many corals. There are many different families in the coral species. Stony corals have hard skeletons, and they make up most of coral reefs. Aside from stony corals, there are also smooth corals, soft corals, and stinging corals.