Global Warming Roast Reefs, But Some Corals Might Adapt

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We all know that the marine heat killed a lot of the corals from the Great Barrier Reef, 30% more exactly. And then one year later, pollution and overfishing killed some more.

But a team of researchers has reported on 19 April in PLOS Genetics, that we might still see corals for one or two centuries, as they could be able to adapt to the new conditions. And it’s a speck of sunshine in all gloomy news on ocean biodiversity and ecosystem.

Some Corals Are Resilient

Terry Hughes is a coral reef expert at the James Cook University in Townsville, Australia and he said that the Great Barrier Reef “is one hell of a natural selection experiment”. Even though 50% of it died since 2016, “the ones that are left are tougher,” he added.

A biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues have reported in PLOS Genetics that there are some resilient corals in the ocean. Even though heat waves damaged the staghorn corals, they proved they can adapt. Depending on how much the planet grows warmer, this coral will survive for 100 – 250 years. Other studies are not that optimistic.

Heat waves cause coral bleaching, losing components that give them both color and nutrients. The corals in the Great Barrier Reef were literally roasted by high temperatures of the ocean in 2016.

Staghorn corals are vulnerable to the heat waves, but they can adapt quickly by moving. They send their larvae in cooler places to colonize, rapidly spreading. Humans can help them by connecting reefs for an easier migration. And yes, that is a very difficult task.

Matz said that he and his team think that we’re not losing corals yet and that there is still time to fix this issue: “There is still time for us to act before corals actually start going extinct.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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