THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. But by 2030, it is estimated that 60% of the coral reef will be lost. But we can still save it, in fact, we can still save 8,000 years of reef formation.
Coral bleaching is one of the biggest things affecting the reef. You may not know this, but corals are actually small animals called polyps. Polyps have white skeletons that can be seen underneath its transparent tissue. But zooxanthellae (a microscopic algae that lives inside the polyps cells) is what gives the coral its colour. Zooxanthellae first started living in the polyps cells millions of years ago, which caused the corals to thrive with colour. Because zooxanthellae, which turns sunlight into energy and up to 95% of the nutrients they make are leaked to the coral. But when the water temperature is higher than normal for weeks and weeks, and the sun is shining really bright, the zooxanthellae overwork and produce toxic levels of oxygen. The coral then sheds the zooxanthellae, and because zooxanthellae gives the coral its colour, the corals bright white skeleton is shown through its transparent tissue. This is also known as coral bleaching. If the water temperature goes back to normal fairly quickly, the coral is able to take back the zooxanthellae and survive. But without the zooxanthellae they no longer receive enough food. They then become weak, and eventually die.
Climate change can cause a lot of things. Rising sea temperatures and severe weather events are both caused by climate change, and they are affecting the reef in a number of ways. Rising sea temperatures, as you found out before, can cause coral bleaching. Severe weather events like hurricanes, cyclones and storms can destroy the reef, and have even been found to change the shape of islands. In 2011, there were major sea grass losses caused of cyclone Yasi. Because of this, there were less turtles and dugongs, since the sea grass (which is the turtles and dugongs main food source) was all destroyed.
In summary, climate change is destroying the reef. It is causing rising sea temperatures, which leads to coral bleaching. It also causes severe weather events, which can change the shape of islands and can minimise the number of certain sea creatures.
If you wish to find out about how to stop climate change, I would suggest researching online.
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