Coral Reefs Suffering – Florida, USA

Climate change is killing the world’s coral reefs. But it’s not the only factor turning them into white, dead husks. According to a new study, all the chemicals humans are dumping into the ocean are making it easier for the hotter weather to do its deadly work.

Published in the journal Marine Biology, a paper based on 30 years of data concluded that nutrient pollution, stemming from fertilizer and improperly treated sewage, is responsible for coral death in Florida. “Our results provide compelling evidence that nitrogen loading from the Florida Keys and greater Everglades ecosystem caused by humans, rather than warming temperatures, is the primary driver of coral reef degradation.”

When the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae becomes stressed—due to temperature fluctuations or contamination—algae will leave the coral’s tissue, taking with it a major food source.

Once abandoned, coral turns white or very pale, and becomes more susceptible to disease.

Coral bleaching is not an immediate death sentence, though: A healthy coral can survive a bleaching event if water temperatures return to normal quickly. Many of the marine invertebrates do, however, lose their battle with bleaching.

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