Scientists have raised the alarm over of what’s likely to be the extinction of the world’s greatest treasure- Great Barrier Reef. The world’s largest coral reef is in danger, and it may be no more in the next few decades if nothing is done to it. Located off the coast of Queensland, it spreads 2,300 km long and can be seen from the space due to its large size and beautiful bright colourful decorating the surface. But this beauty is slowly fading away, and most experts attributed it to the adverse climatic changes and pollution that’s destabilizing the natural order worldwide. These changes have been seen in the last 20 years. But what could be the real cause?
Reasons Why The Great Barrier Reef is Dying
Various theories have been brought forward to explain why the Great Barrier Reef is slowly dying away. Experts believe that it has been subjected to different stresses and it’s amazing that it is still alive today. Most experts associate the current problem with the global warming and the burning of the fossil fuels. Coral bleaching, in particular, has been blamed for this. In the last few years, the Great Barrier Reef experienced several bleaching which had devastating effects. But how does this happen?
The reef is composed of calcium carbonate skeletons that host thousands of polyps. According to experts, the polyps have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae (photosynthesising algae), which provide nutrition and gives the reef their bright colour we see. If the ocean becomes too warm, the algae emit poisons that kill or sicken the coral polyps. It’s also believed that high temperature, stresses the coral polyps to kick out the algae and that’s how polyps lose food and colouring hence the bleaching. In the normal circumstances, the coral can recover, but current conditions are no longer normal.
What Can Be Done?
First is to acknowledge the benefits of Great Barrier Reef or the coral reefs. Apart from being a tourist attraction, they have many other benefits to the ecosystem. They support a huge biodiversity which could be affected severely by the extinction. The fact that they occupy a tangible percentage of the ocean floor (0.1%) means that it provides feeding and breeding to marine animals and most fish species. Australia alone cannot deal with this problem alone since it’s a global issue that the entire world has contributed immensely. We need to address global warming seriously and reduce ocean pollution. Let’s go hand in hand together to help protect the reef. This is the only way that we can deal with this problem.