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Coral

coral
About Me You may recognize us from the colorful reefs we form in tropical waters around the world, but did you know we are actually made of tiny organisms called polyps? Our polyps are soft-bodied, but secrete limestone skeletons for support. Our iconic reefs are formed when many, many polyps come together and build on one another. The result is a colony of polyps that actually act as one organism! We get our colorful hues from algae called zooxanthellae (polyps are actually see-through!). Polyps and zooxanthellae have a symbiotic relationship, where we get food from the algae in exchange for housing and protection in our hard structure. When we get stressed out by things like pollution or high temperatures, we kick the zooxanthellae out. This is called coral bleaching, and can actually kill us if it goes on for too long! Did You Know? Our hard calcium carbonate skeletons contain...
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Global Warming’s Toll on Coral Reefs: As if They’re ‘Ravaged by War’

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In theory, coral reefs can recover from even a severe bleaching event. Some of the coral will die off from increased disease susceptibility, but once ocean temperatures drop again, many of the corals will start growing back. But that’s only if they’re given enough time. Typically, it takes 10 to 15 years for the fastest-growing corals to recover after a severe bleaching event. Larger corals that provide shelter for bigger fish can take even longer to grow back. As bleaching events become more frequent, reefs are unlikely to get that needed reprieve. Earth’s average temperature has increased 1 degree Celsius , or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, and the median time between severe bleaching events is now just six years, the Science study found. Case in point: The Scott Reef, 180 miles off the coast of Northwestern Australia, had over the past few years finally begun recovering from a...
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