Recently I accompanied my friend to the pet store because he wanted to buy new corals for his reef tank. Once in the store there was a special section where corals were breed and grown in the store. It was interesting to learn about the process of how to grow corals and how to take care of them. I was curious and I kept asking questions. It turns out that temperature change plays a huge role in the coloration of corals. If the temperature is not adequate bleaching occurs meaning that the corals lose their color and turn white. That got me thinking about what happens on a bigger scale; how the coral in the ocean is affected by rising temperatures due to climate change.
After some quick research I found an article in teachoceanscience.net, about how warmer air and ocean surface temperatures caused by climate change, impacts coral reefs. Warmer water temperatures affects corals, causing them stress due to their sensitivity to temperature change. If the water temperatures stay warmer than usual for a long period of time the plant-like microorganisms called zooxanthellae that corals depend on for some of their food, leave their tissue. Zooxanthellae also give corals their color, therefore without them corals become weak and turn white. ‘White, unhealthy corals are called bleached’. Unfortunately, coral bleaching on a large scale alters the ocean chemistry. Not only affecting coral communities but also the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat. The article also mentions that climate change alters ocean chemistry and that leads to ocean acidification affecting more than just corals. Ocean acidification makes it harder for many organisms like Snails, clams, and a diverse population of fish.