Ocean Heatwaves Affect Coral Reefs More Than Initially Expected

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As per new research carried on by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Newcastle, the US NOAA, and James Cook University, ocean heatwaves due to global warming affect coral reefs worldwide more than scientists expected. The scientists hope that politicians would come up with solutions to tackle climate change and, subsequently, coral reefs’ damage.

Also, the researchers revealed that not only coral bleaching is threatening corals, but warmer seawater temperatures are also endangering the marine organisms.

“Until now, we have described coral bleaching as an event where the symbiotic relationship between coral and its microbes breaks down, and corals lose their main source of nutrition, and the coral can die if the symbiosis is not restored,” explained Tracy Ainsworth, a professor at the University of New South Wales, and one of the researchers implicated in the new study.

Ocean Heatwaves Affect Coral Reefs More Than Initially Expected

“But what we are now seeing is that severe marine heatwave events can have a far more severe impact than coral bleaching — the water temperatures are so warm that the coral animal doesn’t bleach, in terms of a loss of its symbiosis, the animal dies and its underlying skeleton is all that remains,” the researcher added.

But, unfortunately, that’s not all! Ocean heatwaves are also leading to the multiplication of bacteria and algae that are harmful to coral reefs all over the world.

“Climate scientists talk about ‘unknown unknowns’ – impacts that we haven’t anticipated from existing knowledge and experience – this discovery fits into this category,” said Dr. Scott Heron from James Cook University. Accordingly, the researchers behind the new study on corals hope that their findings will trigger some reactions between the political decision-makers to come up with better solutions to protect and, eventually, save the coral reefs.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.