Within the last week there has been much hysteria on social media regarding a recent news update that the Great Barrier Reef is ‘dead’. This news has launched many memes and jokes over the internet, but unfortunately this is no laughing matter.
First off, the Great Barrier Reef is not dead…at least not yet.While the news was believed to be published for shock value and awareness rather than actual journalistic merit, it did it’s job of getting people to talk about the real issue. The Great Barrier Reef is not dead, but it is unfortunately dying.The Great Barrier Reef is known to be the largest coral reef ecosystem. Located in Australia, the reef has been dazzling tourists, divers, and photographers for years.The beauty of the reef has captured the attention of really anyone who has ever seen it, and it is like nothing else in the world.
It is important to understand why people are saying that the Reef is ‘dead’, and that is because an estimated 93% of it according to the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, have been affected by coral bleaching. Bleaching is a process where coral turns white because it secretes symbiotic algae tissues that are crucial in its survival. This happens when there is a significant change or shift in temperature and lighting.This can also occur when there is an absence of proper nutrients. With that being said, 93 percent is a lot, but it it not 100 percent.
By passing along the information that the reef is dead, while people may listen more, it is definitely possible that this message perpetuates the idea that the Great Barrier Reef cannot be repaired and that there is little to no hope for recovery at any time. Scientists are struggling with this because this statement could do more harm than good.
But what seems to be an issue that scientists have failed to address is that there is hope for the reef, but what seems to be most likely causing the bleaching is climate change. Global warming has to be the main factor changing the reef’s environment enough to affect it so drastically. How can we fix the reef if we can’t even improve our individual lifestyles to fix an even greater issue?
The ocean is the warmest it has ever been in in 200 million years, when the corals’ existence most likely originated.The issue that needs to be addressed is how to is bring down that temperature so that the coral can have better quality water and doesn’t have to depend so heavily on symbiosis with algae.
So no, the Great Barrier Reef is not dead, but it will be soon unless measures are taken to improve quality and temperature of the water it lives in. Rather than sharing memes and photos about its death, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be able to see the real thing and know that I helped in saving it.