Essay, Pages 4 (991 words)
Last August 2019, the world is alarmed by the burning of Amazon Rainforest and Africa’s forests, but there are other forests we should be concerned of, it’s the ocean’s forests, the corals. Coral reef is considered as tropical rainforests of the sea because 25% of Marine life relies on corals.
Richard Vevers, a former advertising executive, fond of the wonders and magnificence of corals, turned into an ocean activist, quit his job to become a part of a team to tell the world what is really happening to our corals.
He teamed up with divers, photographers and scientists to make a time lapse to show changes of reef in real time, in 30 countries on a 650 hours underwater expedition, to make a documentary film ‘Chasing Coral’. He was inspired to be an ocean activist when he dived in one of his favorite spots and saw the difference of what he saw then and now. The lack of knowledge urged him to make the documentary.
You can watch their documentary on Netflix to be enlightened further on how they successfully did the documentary.
What really is Coral bleaching? Why should we be bothered by it? Why did a successful man like Richard Vevers quit his job to save the corals?
According to WWF. Coral bleaching take effect when corals turn white and lose their color. Coral are naturally bright and colorful because of microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae live within the coral in a mutually beneficial relationship, each helping the other survive.
And when the ocean temperature rises, when it gets hot, the coral stresses out and expels the algae, and as the algae leaves, the color of coral fades until it looks like it has been bleached. Algae is the main food source of corals and without the algae, they cannot survive without it. Coral turns white because its skeleton is made up of calcium, and the white corals are technically dead corals.
As stated by the Ocean Health Index, 60% of reefs are damaged by local sources such as overfishing, destructive fishing, pollution, disease coral bleaching, coral mining and sedimentation. When these types of human threats are combined with the influence of rising ocean temperatures, 75% of reefs are threatened. Due to Climate Change, ocean temperature rose by 2 degrees Celsius, some people might say that 2 degrees is just too little to be significant, but it is not, especially to our corals. Mass coral bleaching is happening worldwide.
‘The most alarming aspects is that this is a clear case not just of the loss of corals themselves but in some areas complete ecosystem collapse, including the loss of billions of fish. A lot of people don’t seem to realize that it is not just a case of corals bleaching and then perhaps recovering, but lots of other marine creatures that depend on them also dying. I’ve had the displeasure last year of swimming in a sort of soup of decaying marine life in what should have been a living reef. I came back from Lizard Island a couple of weeks ago. I only saw a few humbugs, those little stripy damsel fish – and one butterfly fish where there should have been hundreds of fish.It is like taking a walk in a forest where not only have the trees all lost their leaves and started falling over but the birds and other animals have also gone. If you examine the life in a tree scientifically, you’ll also find a lot of small hidden creatures no one thinks about, and they will have gone too. It’s the same on the reef: tiny creatures no-one really thinks about but important to the ecosystem also dying ‘- Statement of Professor Justin Marshall, Zoologist, Marine Animal Researcher, University of Queensland
Human activities destroy the coral reef system, as the industrial revolution started, greenhouse gas emission surged, and climate change worsen.
‘More and more people are living in the Caribbean as the countries become more industrialized, putting more stress on the reef such as overfishing. Overfishing is a problem because if there are no fish, they algae are able to grow more and competes with the coral for space and light. In Belize, for example, they have a huge, beautiful reef that covers the entire coast, but the fishing industry is huge there. Before 10 years ago, they didn’t have a lot of regulation, so people were just out there fishing whatever they wanted. Overall, we’ve seen the biodiversity tank, but there are still some good spots, places far away from shore, where they are less impacted by runoff and local stress and are historically cooler. Luckily, they are working really hard on fisheries management now, which should really help the reef stay healthier!’- Justin Bauman, Ph.D student in coral ecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
What can we do?
Ditching the use of plastic is one way of helping. Avoiding using SPF/ Sunscreen especially when going to the beach because there is chemical content like oxybenzone and octinoxate that damages the coral reefs. We can help save the environment by doing little things, as these little things become bigger when we do it together.
We should be bothered and be alarmed of what is really happening on our coral reefs, just because we can’t see the reefs physically because they are in the bottom of the ocean, does not mean we won’t pay attention to them. Just because we live on the earth’s surface does not mean we are not after all harmed by the effects of coral bleaching. Just because the temperature only rose 2 degrees, we are still safe. We may be safe based on our own point of view, but the corals are not safe, they are dying. I hope we all can be as passionate as Richard Vevers, I hope we can see through the effects of climate change in a global scale.