fish in front of coral

The Death of Coral Reefs

The ocean is estimated to make about 80% of our oxygen according to Business Insider. A vital part of our ocean’s ecosystem is its coral reefs, which are home to many aquatic animals. Due to this key role in the ocean’s ecosystem, they play a large roll in the world’s ecosystem. If coral reefs are allowed to die out, there will be an extreme change within the world’s ecosystem, and the outcome will be catastrophic. 

Currently, the ocean’s coral reefs are dying due to climate change, pollution, coral harvesting, unsustainable tourism and overfishing. Since 2016, half of the Great Barrier Reef, which is made up of 3,863 reefs, has died. As a result, our ocean’s health is on the decline, meaning our oxygen availability is also the decline. This in turn means Mars seems to be in the imminent future if we maintain these unsustainable ways.

Coral reef

The reason why climate change has such a large impact on ocean is due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which changes the ocean’s carbon dioxide levels, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The change of the carbon dioxide results in ocean acidification, which harms the coral reefs because of the lowered pH levels. As of now, ocean acidity has increased by 30%, which is the highest it has been and it is expected to reach 40% according to the EPA. Also, the rise in the ocean’s temperature is causing coral bleaching, since the raised temperature is killing algae vital to the reefs. Coral bleaching can either kill the coral or leave it vulnerable to disease. 

There are certain steps you can take in order to make sure that you do not damage the reefs. The first is to leave the coral reefs alone when you are swimming. Instead, try to observe their beauty from a distance. Additionally, if you see trash, pick it up, don’t buy coral jewelry and be mindful of what sunscreen you use. Hawaii has made certain sunscreens illegal in order to protect the coral reefs and other ocean life that some sunscreens may pose a threat to. The damage that we have done to the coral reefs can be reversed if there is immediate action. If we can change the course of climate change, we can also change the course of our ocean’s health.

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