Is the Great Barrier Reef dying?
Coral reef ecologists documented a 50 percent decline in-corals across the reef in the past 2 years.
Corals provide a safe home for zooxanthellae to live within their polyps. In exchange for a safe place for the zooxanthellae (algae) to live, the algae photosynthesize energy and provide such energy to the corals.
When the average temperature of the ocean water in which a coral lives is raised by just a degree or two, the coral become stressed and eject their algae tenants.
The ejection of algae by coral is the process in which we call coral bleaching, as it removes the colorful algae from corals, leaving their stark carbonate structure colorless.
The summer of 2016 was a double punch to the Great Barrier Reef, a combination of both a continued warming of the equatorial oceans from climate change and the presence of the strongest El Ni o-event ever recorded.
The Great Barrier Reef is at a tipping point, where it will likely not be the same for centuries.