Coral reefs are among the most vulnerable ecosystems globally
to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, causing climate warming and the acidification of their environment.
Thermal stress causes the coral polyps to expel their colorful symbiotic algae, or zooxanthellae, revealing their white calcium carbonate skeleton, in a process called bleaching.
Through photosynthesis, the zooxanthellae provide a large part of the energy and nutritional needs of the coral. As a result, bleached corals begin to starve, be to resist other threats (such as disease), and may eventually die.
Why are corals important since they only cover 0.1% of the ocean floor?
– Corals provide shelter and supply food to about 25% of marine species globally;
– In turn, that marine life is a source for livelihoods for 500 million people;
– Significant economic benefits for fisheries along with jobs;
– Coral reefs serve as shoreline protection;
– They create tourism value both economically and through unforgettable experiences.