Jul 7, 2017

Coral Bleaching

Newsmedia has been hyping the coral bleaching going on as a disaster, but it does not seem as dire as we are led to believe. The way it works is that coral polyps live as a symbiote with algae, which photosynthesize and produce carbohydrates for the polyps. When temperatures get too high, the algae starts to produce free oxygen radicals (which is harmful). The polyps have no choice but to expel the algae, which are responsible for the coral color, and to lose an important food source. This is known as coral bleaching.

Corals do not die from coral bleaching, but they are significantly weakened. Corals do recover from bleaching. They die out, then slowly grow back. Centuries do not mean much for a coral colony that exists for millennia.