If you want to go snorkeling in beautiful corals.. you better make sure you do it soon! Scientists have found worrying evidence that all of the corals in the Indian Ocean, Caribbean and Australia will be completely wiped out all due to a phenomenon called “coral bleaching” by 2050.
Global warming, overfishing and pollution are the culprits of coral bleaching. The increased levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are dissolved into the ocean, since the ocean is the earth’s natural carbon reservoir. The increased levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans has caused ocean acidification. The ocean regularly has a pH of around 8.1 and mathematical models project that the ocean will acidify to a pH of around 7.5 - a large enough change to kill the corals.
The corals begin to lose their colour and will eventually die, washing up on shores and beaches. The famous bright corals that are known in exotic and tropical islands all around the world will soon be a distant memory, unless changes are made now to slow down coral bleaching.
Coral ecosystems have one of the largest ecosystems in the world and many species are affected by their death. Corals are important not only for marine life, but human life as well. Around 500 million people rely on these coral reefs for food and income and these colourful displays have a net worth of $35 billion USD! Losing these coral reef systems would undoubtedly have devastating economic impacts.
I was cruising in the Caribbean a couple of months ago, and I could not wait to go snorkeling to see the gorgeous tropical fish and corals the Caribbean is famous for. Unfortunately, my planned excursion was cancelled last minute due to high winds and chilly weather. I can’t help but think, will there be as many corals and fish in this ecosystem the next time I am back in the Caribbean? I sure hope so. I hope that we can all make changes and learn to live sustainably before its too late.