Climatologists have been telling us that the planet is getting hotter and that it will get hotter and with these forecasts in mind, 2016 was predicted to be a terrible year for coral bleaching. Unfortunately these predictions have come true and right now we are seeing some of the most severe and wide spread coral bleaching ever recorded.
The situation is quite dire on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef where one scientists even goes so far as to say that he has hardly seen any corals which isn’t bleached. The widespread coral bleaching is affecting everything in sight from stony corals to soft corals, and even anemones aren’t faring any better.
A recent video released today by Aesop Media shows how extensive the bleaching is at Lizard Island and it’s quite depressing to see the once colorful coral reef relegated to nearly all ghostly white corals. The corals may not be dead now, or yet, but their path to recovery, if they recover at all will take a long time, and may be further impeded by even more coral bleaching events.
With the water at its current unseasonably high temperatures, the corals never even really had a chance to resist the bleaching. Unseasonably high temperatures, which would normally top out at around 30C/86F have peaked as high as 34C/93F which is just a few degrees shy of the water in a hot bath. Literally!
Those of us who keep aquarium corals know how off kilter the system can get and how much damage can be caused to corals that are exposed to temperature well above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Now imagine how your corals and reef tank would react if you cranked the temperature another ten degrees.
It may be a total buzzkill to talk, write or read about these things, but it’s important to know that the natural environment and its climate is really, truly shifting away from one which promotes healthy coral reef. With bleaching happening on such a massive scale, it may seem like there’s nothing we can do about it. But it is our sincere hope that there are some out of the box solutions to fixing or at least mitigating the loss of coral reefs, and that the aquarium hobby may have a future role in coral reef preservation that goes well beyond keeping an ark of endangered coral species in private aquariums.