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  • Writer's pictureGuido Paap

Relief for stressed corals

In the last two weeks, our coral reef restoration project has faced a significant challenge: rising ocean temperatures. As temperatures soar, our corals in the nurseries are experiencing stress, leading to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching. Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae living within their tissues, causing them to turn pale or white. These algae, known as zooxanthellae, provide corals with essential nutrients through photosynthesis. However, under stressful conditions such as high water temperatures, corals expel the algae, leaving them vulnerable and deprived of their primary energy source.

One of the leading causes of coral bleaching is the rise in ocean temperatures. Corals have a narrow temperature tolerance range, and even a slight increase above their optimal temperature can trigger bleaching. As global temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, our oceans are absorbing excess heat, pushing coral reefs beyond their thermal limits. In addition to global climate change, phenomena like El Niño can exacerbate heat stress on coral reefs. The current El Niño event brings warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures to the Pacific Ocean, leading to prolonged periods of elevated temperatures, increasing the risk of mass coral bleaching events.

In the face of rising temperatures and heightened heat stress, we eagerly await the arrival of cooler weather patterns and rainfall. Rainfall can provide temporary relief by lowering surface temperatures and providing corals with much-needed respite from heat stress. However, the long-term solution lies in addressing the root causes of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate further warming of our oceans.

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Bulisa Ogonda Masiga
Bulisa Ogonda Masiga
Mar 21

Sad times 😞 we can see the effects of climate change unfold right before our eyes.

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