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Great Barrier Reef: Time is running out to witness nature's wonder

Great Barrier Reef: Time is running out to witness nature's wonder

Image source: © canva
Weronika Paliczka,
14.05.2024 16:30

Scientists are warning about the dire state of the Great Barrier Reef. They predict that all coral habitats could be destroyed in just over 76 years, with human activity playing a significant role.

Coastal countries and cities benefit from coral reefs in many ways. They can make money by offering transparent-bottom boat tours, scuba diving or snorkelling in their vicinity, and selling coral-inspired souvenirs. However, scientists warn that coral reefs are disappearing, and there may soon be no opportunity to see them in person.

Coral reefs in agony

Marine biologists agree that the extinction of coral reefs will lead to the extinction of around 40% of fish species. Coral reefs provide shelter not only for fish but also for marine reptiles, invertebrates, cephalopods, and other marine life. It is estimated that coral reefs are home to more than one million animal and plant species.

The warming and acidifying of ocean waters are causing coral bleaching and, consequently, extinction. This is due to the symbiotic relationship between corals and tiny algae, which nourish the coral polyps through photosynthesis. When the water becomes too warm, the algae produce radicals, causing the corals to expel them. As a result, the unnourished coral reefs starve to death.

Marine researcher sounds the alarm

Irish marine biologist Terry Hughes has dedicated years to studying coral reefs. He focuses on the impact of rising water temperatures on these underwater ecosystems. Hughes has found that the corals remain unchanged as long as the water does not heat up by more than three degrees Celsius above the long-term average. However, once the temperature exceeds this threshold, they begin to die out in large numbers. For instance, above four degrees, their occurrence decreases by 40%, and above nine degrees, it drops by 80%.

Many marine researchers warn that due to increasing ocean temperatures, all coral reefs could vanish by 2100. This leaves scientists and environmentalists with less than 76 years to alter the fate of the world's oceans.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza

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