Coral Bleaching

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Introduction Coral reef ecosystems are arguably one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. (Spalding 2001) Because of the marine life that swarms these areas, the reefs are comparable to those of tropical rainforests. (Spalding 2001) Additionally they play a critical role in the success of coastal communities, providing protection from storms, and drives tourism to these areas. However, due to unfortunate changes that inundates the coral reef ecosystems from increases in human population, overfishing, and tremendous rises in pollutant productions that is creating devastating impacts to all organisms and areas involved. (Spalding 2001) Aside from the aforementioned issues, a rapid increase in climate changes through human activities …show more content…
(Spalding 2001) This thermal stress response known as coral bleaching occurs and has been on a steady rise. (Brown 1997; Spalding 2001) Amongst the reefs that suffer such thermal distress are those that are found in the Caribbean- which only makes up less than 8% of the world’s reef systems. (Spalding 2001) A vast majority of reefs scattered throughout the Caribbean, even those that are protected, have undergone additional stress aside from that of human activities. (Spalding 2001) Such stresses are diseases, increases in stronger hurricane formations, as well as El Niño events that may attribute to why reefs have seen limited developments. (Spalding …show more content…
(Wilkinson, Linden and Cesar 1999) Although the formation of El Niño Southern Oscillations are secluded to just the Pacific, the effects are widespread with major global impacts on coral reef systems- most notably in the tropical Indian Ocean where storms are likely to develop. (Wilkinson, Linden and Cesar 1999) From the end of 1997 into the latter part of 1998, sea surface temperatures rose in many tropical areas where coral reefs are found 2º -3º C above normal. (Wilkinson, Linden and Cesar 1999) Much of the 1997-98 in this region led to mass mortality, where upwards of 90% of the corals died in a span of several hundred kilometers. (Spalding

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