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Coral

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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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Before reefs become deserts: Keeping coral healthy in Hawaii

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Many of Hawaii’s once-thriving coral reefs are now struggling to recover from recent extreme coral bleaching caused by rising water temperatures. These periodic increased temperatures combined with coastal runoff, fishing pressure and other impacts are all suspected of contributing to slow reef recovery. As a way of understanding which factors had the biggest impacts on Hawaii’s corals, a group of researchers from the collaborative Ocean Tipping Points project, co-led by Larry Crowder , the Edward Ricketts Provostial Professor of Marine Ecology and Conservation at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment , completed the first-ever comprehensive map of how both humans and natural events influence overall reef health. This new study was published March 1 in PLOS One. “When we jumped into the water in west Hawaii, over half of the coral reef was dead,” said Lisa Wedding, research associate at Stanford’s...
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Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades

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Carbonate sands on coral reefs will start dissolving within about 30 years, on average, as oceans become more acidic, new research published today in Science shows. Carbonate sands, which accumulate over thousands of years from the breakdown of coral and other reef organisms, are the building material for the frameworks of coral reefs and shallow reef environments like lagoons, reef flats and coral sand cays. But these sands are sensitive to the chemical make-up of sea water. As oceans absorb carbon dioxide, they acidify – and at a certain point, carbonate sands simply start to dissolve. The world’s oceans have absorbed around one-third of human-emitted carbon dioxide . Carbonate sand is vulnerable For a coral reef to grow or be maintained, the rate of carbonate production (plus any external sediment supply) must be greater than the loss through physical, chemical and biological erosion, transport and dissolution. It is well known...
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The World’s Coral Reefs in a Race Against Climate Change

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A new study published in Science confirms devastating damage endured by the world’s coral reefs in recent years due to rapid climate change and human influence. The analysis provides a health check-up of 100 coral reefs around the globe through review of records from 1980 to 2016 from government documents, scientific studies, and media reports. The result paints a grim picture.  As recently as the 1980s, reefs could expect roughly 25-30 years between bleaching episodes. Today, abnormally high water temperatures occur around every 6 years, while reefs need decades to recuperate. “It’s like getting hit by a serious disease every couple of years, or at such short intervals that you don’t have time to recover in between,” says study co-author Julia Baum, a marine biologist at the University of Victoria. Read more here Original link
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