What is Coral Bleaching?
If you leave something outside in the sun for a long time, you will see that it loses its color. A dark piece of wood will become light gray, and a piece of clothing will fade to a white. We then say that it was bleached by the sun. The bright and colorful coral reefs in the ocean can also lose its color and die as a result.
Coral bleaching is when warmer ocean water leads to stress in the corals and causes them to throw off the algae living in their skins. As a result, they bleach white in color. Without the algae, the coral loses its source of food and is more vulnerable to disease. Scientists expect lots of reefs to die as a consequence of coral bleaching. It is one of the largest threats to coral reefs all around the world, from the Hawaiian Islands to Fiji and Asia.
Due to El Niño and global warming, coral bleaching is becoming a bigger threat in our oceans. A third of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has already been killed, and in 2015, Hawaii has had the worst coral bleaching in its history.
Other ways humans endanger coral reefs
Coral skeletons are widely used to make jewelry, and this industry has put many corals at risk. Oil spills, pollution, and boats floating over reefs also damage the precious corals. If nothing is done to help the coral reefs, marine life everywhere will continue to suffer.