Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Death of the Reef?

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Death of the Reef?

Article excerpt

IN OCTOBER 2015 the US Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the third global coral bleaching event had begun in the Caribbean.

Coral reefs in the northern hemisphere, especially in Hawaii and the Caribbean, were turned white as a result of higher than normal water temperatures.

This raised significant concerns in Australia's scientific community that the Great Barrier Reef would be severely impacted by coral bleaching as it had several times in the past two decades.

Coral bleaching occurs when ocean temperatures rise and the tiny algae, known as zooxanthellae, that live within coral polyps are expelled.

Like plants, zooxanthallae have the ability to photosynthesise sunlight and produce food in the form of sugars. Around 95% of the nutrients produced by coral zooxanthallae are made available to the coral polyp and is a major part of their diet.

Zooxanthellae also give coral reefs the beautiful colours that are so attractive to the 42,000 tourists who visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park each week. …

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