Coral Reef Threats

The threats to coral reefs are real. Scientists are measuring up to 85% of all coral reefs belonging to the Great Barrier Reef being hit hard by coral bleaching, while other factors can also contribute to damaging or even completely destroying reefs, depending on geographic location. However, not all these threats have been thoroughly analyzed, and some scientists have alternative ideas of what global warming means and what it might lead to. In the interest of impartial scientific analysis, it is essential to take a closer look at all these theories, observations ideas.

Although there is no doubt that global warming is happening, and scientific data suggest that it is currently one of the greatest threats to coral reefs as well, many scientists are beginning to doubt the mechanics of global warming and the idea that it may be greatly influenced by pollution. Whether or not it might be caused by pollution, some theories suggest that global warming might actually be leading up to a new ice age during the next few hundreds of years. Astronomic data seems to confirm that the gravitational tugs coming from the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn can lead to periodic changes in the Earth’s orbit, which may have been responsible for much of what we call global warming today and for the alleged ice age to come. Although the effects of a new ice age on corals can be devastating and other stressors are likely to make things worse, the history of coral reef evolution shows that these resilient creatures have actually been through much worse throughout the past 500 million years.

Also natural, but possibly worsened by the effects of coastal development and overfishing, the presence and damage caused by coral disease and invasive species of marine creatures are also among the greatest threats to coral reefs that are rarely even recognized. Human intervention such as destructive fishing, pollution and the construction of coastal infrastructure, have caused some species to be driven away from their natural environment, leading animals like coral-ingesting starfish to attack large coral formations on a regular basis.

Increased CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are rapidly leading to rising ocean temperatures and great fluctuations in overall temperatures and ocean currents over a short amount of time. The combination of these factors has already led to bleaching and physical coral reef damage that may be all but irreparable. Also, the impact of CO2 on the ocean can be direct, preventing the process of a decreased efficiency in photosynthetic water oxidation. This is also one of the greatest threats to coral reefs currently known to science.


Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

Whale in Ocean