The peril of Coral Reefs

by on April 11, 2015 - 11:38pm

The peril of coral reefs 



The purpose of healthy coral reef systems is to provide food for marine creatures which inhibit them. For example, various types of reef fish feed upon microorganisms and help maintain the cleanliness of the reef environment. Another reason is to provide shelter for other sea creatures, such as clown fish, moray eels, and octopus. Coral reefs also act as barriers to help protect shorelines in coastal areas from the pounding surf.   

In a scholarly article written by M. James C. Crabbe, he states the symbiotic algal cell contains the pigmentation within corals. This is called the zooxanthellae. When coral bleaching occurs, they lose their zooxanthellae. (Crabbe 2008) Bleaching also occurs when long-term exposure to above or below normal temperatures change, resulting in additional energy expenditure, depletion of reserves, and reduced biomass. These factors are disruptive to the pH balance of the ocean waters.

When carbon dioxide (CO2) levels increase in the atmosphere, acidity increases in the oceans. It is further noted that coral bleaching is due to stressors caused by other environmental factors such as pollution, acid rain, and runoff from rivers, lakes and streams, and increased amounts of toxic substances dumped into the oceans. (Obura, 2005)


It is critical that we understand the diversity of coral reefs and their importance to the oceans so we can monitor and protect them.




Obura, David O. 2005, Resilience and Climate Change: lessons from coral reefs and bleaching in the Western Indian Ocean, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science. p.354


Crabbe, M. James C. 2008, Climate change, global warming, and coral reefs: Modelling the effects of temperature, Computational Biology and Chemistry, 32, pp. 311-314.







This is a follow up article to "The trouble with troubled seas."