Tropical coral reefs cover a mere 0.1 per cent of the ocean but are among the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet, supporting a massive one quarter of all marine species. They occur in more than 100 countries and sustain human society through a range of ecosystem services, such as livelihoods and food security from fisheries, revenue from tourism, erosion prevention and protection from extreme weather events through dissipation of wave energy and lessening inundation and damage during storms. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study found that coral reefs generate up to $1.25 million per hectare from tourism, coastal protection, medical use and fisheries annually. The longest-lasting recorded global bleaching event began in 2014 and continues to affect reefs world-wide. Surveys of the Great Barrier Reef suggest that more than 90 percent of it has been affected by bleaching. I want to reduce coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the Seven natural wonders and is the largest coral reef system on the planet. An area so large it can be seen from space.

The Great Barrier Reef I knew as a child is not at all the one we know and love today. Not many are aware, but this is the only living organism that can be seen from outer space. What’s wrong with it you may ask? In the past two decades it has lost over half its coral cover, pollution has caused deadly starfish outbreaks, global warming has produced horrific coral bleaching and one third of the reef is now dead. This Natural Wonder is a mesmerising landmark that is visited and appreciated by over 2 million tourists per year that may not be there for much longer.

Coral reefs protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms. They can naturally protect coasts from tropical cyclones by reducing the impact of large waves before they reach the shore, according to scientists. Tropical cyclones wreak havoc on coastal infrastructure, marine habitats and coastal populations across the world. However, experts say that for coastlines facing a direct cyclone impact, a fringing reef can protect the beach from extensive erosion. Without coral reefs these disasters are more likely to happen.

The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the temperature of the ocean and in it’s acidity – threaten it’s very existence. – Sir David Attenborough. Coral reefs are thermally sensitive, meaning that they can only tolerate small temperature ranges. However, climate change is causing abnormally high sea-surface temperatures, which is causing corals to bleach during summer months. As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent, causing our coral reefs to die and killing our marine life affecting one of the most vital ecosystems in the world.

Global warming is causing our coral reefs to die. Climate change is the greatest global threat to coral reef ecosystems. This happens as carbon pollution is emitted into Earth’s atmosphere, it traps heat and causes temperatures to rise. The ocean then becomes warmer, resulting in heatwaves that causes stress to corals. Our Great Barrier Reef is being crippled by sediment and chemical pollution from farms and land based runoff – just when it needs to be strong in the face of rapidly warming oceans. In the event of tree clearing and effected grasslands, cause soils to erode and wash into rivers and creeks furthermore end up in the Great Barrier Reef. Also, when too much fertiliser  is applied to crops the runoff additionally ends up in the rivers and creeks and into our Great Barrier Reef. The herbicides and pesticides are applied to  crops to kill weeds by inhibiting their ability to grow. But when they wash into the Reef, they also inhibit the growth of non-targeted plants such as seagrasses which dugongs, turtles and fish depend.

Coral bleaching is killing our marine life. If carbon pollution isn’t reduced, climate change is expected to cause more frequent and severe coral bleaching on the Reef. Coral reefs harbour the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem globally and directly support over 500 million people worldwide, mostly in poor countries. If a reef has fewer fishes carrying out particular functional roles or particular tasks in the ecosystem, then when there is ongoing disturbances such as bleaching events or storms, the ecosystem as a whole will be less resilient as they have less insurance to play with. We need to help by doing the small things to save our marine life.

There are many small things we, as a community can do to make a big difference in contributing to conserve our coral reefs from coral bleaching. Coral reefs are rabidly degrading. Overfishing, destructive fishing, unsustainable coastal development, warming temperatures due to climate change and ocean acidification are all placing extremely high pressure on the worlds coral reefs. Solar panels help reduce Global Warming. The production of solar energy in cities is a way to diminish fossil fuels, and is a good way to mitigate global warming by lowering the mission of greenhouse gases. Transport emissions will also make you healthier and happier and save you some money. Whenever and wherever you can, take public transport or ride a bike. We can choose to use energy efficient light bulbs or look for the energy star label when buying new appliances. Reduce fossil fuels and coal and fossil emissions just to name a few. These things need to change promptly is we want to stand a chance in helping out ecosystems. People around the world are responsible for this global issue without even realising what they’re doing wrong.

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