I also had to chance to go snorkelling with my family; it was not my first time apparently because my parents mentioned how i was very daring with ocean waters when i was young and had previous experiences of snorkelling as well. This time however, i do remember swimming with the fishes, looking at the coral reefs and exploring the sea bed. I would have to admit it was quite a terrifying experience because the snorkelling gear were very unfamiliar and the seabed was so vast it looked never ending and thus..scary. The tour guide even pointed out this abandoned ship that was left on the seabed (which i was obviously very terrified of as i let my imagination run wild).
But the experience of having electric blue, orange, yellow fishes swimming with you in the ocean was great! The coral reefs were also magnificent and beautiful, which brings me to my topic of today: coral reefs.
Coral reefs, though it only takes up 0.1% of the seabed, is actually home to 25% of all ocean species. They are an important species to the ocean ecosystem. For example, the larvae of tuna start their life cycle by living in coral reefs.
But how has anthropogenic activities affected coral reefs? Globally, we are witnessing coral bleaching spanning the tropical Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans due to rapid rise of temperatures. Specifically, with rise in temperatures, corals will expel the algae living within them, called Zooxanthellae. These algae living within the corals are not only responsible for the bright colours of corals, but also provide energy and nutrients for them. Without them, the corals are bleached and will also starve and die.
Experts also predict that if ocean temperatures continue to rise at such a rapid rate , then thousands of hectares of corals will be affected within a few months, and by 2050, we might lose all our corals. We also have to take note that corals are exceptionally susceptible to extreme and rapid fluctuations of temperature, and adaptation of these species can take place only when the pace of climate change is slow.
An image of bleached coral reefs
Save our beautiful corals and do something about climate change now!
It all starts from simple actions such as switching off your lights and reducing your use of plastic bags and plastic straws. Recently, i'm also cutting down on doing take-aways so as to reduce disposables and you could do that too! I believe that small things like these can make a significant difference. You could also participate in activities that help the environment such as tree planting.
P.S/ Sign the Ben & Jerry's petition for climate justice at this link :) i'm actually really glad that such a big company is doing its part to promote action for climate change, in view of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference COP 21. (It will only take 10 seconds of your time)
Erik Van Sebille, The Guardian (2015) Coral reefs are not just pretty - they are vital to life [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/11/threat-to-coral-reefs-climate-change [Accessed: 17/10/15]
Lesley Andrew (2013) Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef [Online]. Available at
http://climatecommission.angrygoats.net/wp-content/uploads/Coral-reefs.jpg [Accessed: 17/10/15]
Zach Pontz (2015) Why did these colourful coral reefs shock scientists? [Online] Available at http://media.fromthegrapevine.com/assets/images/2015/6/Colorful%20coral%20reef.jpg.824x0_q71_crop-scale.jpg [Accessed: 17/10/15]