Warming Events Put Coral Reefs In Hot Water, Slowing Recovery

Source: Phys.org/David Colgan/UC Los Angeles - February 7, 2018 in Science/Tech

Warming Events Put Coral Reefs In Hot Water, Slowing Recovery
Photo: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

As the world’s oceans heat up with climate change, coral reefs are increasingly under threat. Bleaching events—defense mechanisms against high temperatures that turn corals white—have become more frequent.

From 2010 to 2016, UCLA researchers studied corals off the coast of American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean to better understand the bleaching process and what it means for the future of these iconic places.

Looking at four similar species of coral, a recently published study found that some corals are more resilient than others—but the resilience comes at a cost: They grow more slowly, making reef recovery a longer process.

Coral reefs are home to about a quarter of all marine life. Protecting them is critical not only to conserve ecosystems, but also to maintain tourism, fishing, and a major source of food for more than a billion people worldwide, said Zack Gold, a doctoral candidate in UCLA Professor Paul Barber’s lab and lead author of the study.

“You have 261 million people in Indonesia alone who are dependent on seafood for the vast majority of their protein,” Gold said.

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